It is a common misconception that teeth whitening can be done for free. The matter is that your dentist will not charge you anything if they are affiliated with the company that provides their services.
You may want to consider finding an independent professional, though, as the prices vary considerably, and it is good to have someone experienced on hand when you need them most. Here’s how much dentists typically charge per tooth whitened.
There are many myths surrounding teeth whitening products and procedures. One such myth is that teeth whitening can be done at home without additional cost. While this might seem like a great idea, there are several reasons why this isn’t true.
Not only do some over-the-counter (OTC) teeth whiteners contain harmful ingredients, but also there are other costs associated with using these types of products. Let’s look at what causes tooth discoloration, how much professional teeth whitening costs, and whether insurance covers this procedure.
How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?
The average price for teeth whitening varies based on location, type of treatment, and amount of whitening needed. For example, let’s say you go to the dentist for regular cleaning and exam followed by two fillings.
If you were referred to a cosmetic dentist, he would likely charge more than $500 for all three services combined. However, a general practitioner or family dentist might charge about $250 for everything.
In addition to this, the price depends on which product you choose and how intense your results are desired. Since different brands provide varying degrees of whiter smiles, you’ll pay anywhere from around $200 to $900, depending on which brand you use. This price range applies to both OTC and professionally applied treatments.
Ask your dentist about light therapy options if you’re looking for a whiter smile. Light therapy uses unique lights to penetrate the enamel layer of your teeth and activate certain pigments under the surface.
By doing so, teeth treated with light therapy become noticeably brighter than those left untreated. Depending on the severity of stains, light therapy could require multiple sessions. Typically, each session lasts about 45 minutes, and you can expect to shell out somewhere between $150 and $300 per visit.
For those wanting a faster result, laser gum contouring treatments come in at higher prices. Also, if you’re looking to get rid of dark spots, brown patches, and unevenly colored teeth, you may want to see a cosmetic dentist instead. In cases like these, the price will increase because of the time involved and the complexity of the work.
What Causes Tooth Discoloration?
To understand how white teeth appear, we must first discuss what makes teeth discoloration happen in the first place. Two things cause tooth staining — external and internal factors.
External factors include smoking tobacco, drinking coffee, tea, wine, and soda. Internal factors include bacteria inside our mouths, specifically along the gums.
When plaque accumulates in areas like these, it creates acids that react with oxygen molecules to form free radicals. These free radicals then attach themselves to proteins and lipids within the teeth’s structure, causing damage to the cells and cavities and decay.
Stained teeth often feel softer than usual, and brushing becomes difficult due to the change in texture.
While eating foods high in iron and calcium helps reduce the intensity of yellowing, it does nothing to prevent its appearance. As a result, people with fair skin tend to experience more severe staining. On the other hand, foods rich in vitamin C help remove the stain by breaking down the chemical bonds that hold the pigment molecules together.
One thing to note is that while darker teeth can sometimes appear healthier, this isn’t always the case. Some health conditions such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, liver disease, kidney failure, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s Disease, celiac disease, psoriasis, and lupus erythematosus, can make teeth appear paler.
Professional Whitening vs. At-Home Teeth Whitening Costs
Both at-home and professionally applied teeth whitening methods offer similar results. However, since professional whitening requires more time and effort, it comes with higher prices. On top of this, people who don’t live close to a dentist may find themselves paying travel expenses too.
Typically, at-home whitening kits are sold online, in retail stores, and over the phone. They usually consist of one part containing carbamide peroxide gel and another containing strip designed for daily application. To apply the strip, follow the instructions included in the kit. Afterward, rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water to avoid irritation.
These kits generally last around four weeks, during which users report significant improvements in overall brightness. According to Dr. Robert Bucknam, a professor at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, patients who used at-home whitening solutions had “a noticeable improvement” after 30 days.
At-home whitening kits typically run anywhere from around $50 to $100 per month. If you decide to purchase one, you should know that the effectiveness of these products can vary significantly from person to person. Because of this, you should consult at least one other person who has undergone the same process before making your decision.
On the other hand, dentists offer better customer service and care than at-home whitening companies. With this being said, it’s important to remember that professionals aren’t necessarily required for proper teeth whitening.
Here’s a breakdown of how much different types of customers should expect to shell out during a teeth whitening session:
$500 – $700 for an individual tray system ($300/side), including shipping
$900 – $1,100 for an entire mouth full of trays ($600/set)
$800 – $950 for partial veneers, including prep and bonding fees
$2,000 – $3,000 for porcelain crowns, depending on location
$6,000 – $8,000 for complete sets of permanent prosthetic teeth
The exact cost of having your teeth colored will depend on several factors, including the number of teeth needing whitening and the extent of discolorations.
However, since consumers can generally see tangible benefits within hours of receiving their final bill, it makes sense that rates charged for a given area of the mouth should reflect the time spent preparing the gums and teeth for application of bleaching gel.
That said, the following list shows the approximate length of whitening sessions offered by different providers:
10 minutes: $50 to $75, depending on the provider
20 minutes: $125 to $150, plus an additional fee for extra fillings performed simultaneously
30 minutes: $250 to $350, plus an additional fee for extra fillings performed simultaneously
40 minutes: $450 to $550, plus an additional fee for extra fillings performed simultaneously
Most importantly, remember that your experience shouldn’t determine your bottom line. While it’s true that some people can save money simply by opting for lower quality materials or cheaper methods of treating their stains, the result of looking brighter and feeling healthier is priceless.
If you’d rather save money and still get excellent results, try visiting a dentist once every six months for cleanings and exams.
Does Insurance Cover Professional Teeth Whitening?
Most major insurance providers cover routine cleaning appointments, but teeth whitening procedures vary by insurance plan and may be restricted to certain licensed medical professionals. Under this policy, your insurer pays for the entire cost of the routine cleaning, including office visits, lab tests, x-rays, anesthesia, and the price of the procedure itself.
To determine what your insurance will cover for teeth whitening sessions, talk with your dentist or the insurance company first to understand your expected portion.
Your insurance provider won’t cover the cost of whitening products purchased through retail channels like Amazon.com or Walmart. Some insurers refuse to cover teeth whitening procedures performed by unlicensed individuals. Make sure you check your specific coverage plan to learn more.
Overall, the best way to ensure insurance coverage is to seek a reputable dentist, preferably trained in cosmetic dentistry. Your dentist will be able to advise you about the safest and most effective ways to improve your smile.
Many people believe that getting their teeth brightened at home will cost little to no extra money. Although this may seem true at first glance, the truth is quite the opposite.
Several hidden fees could add up quickly when it comes to professional teeth whitening. Whether you’re considering at-home whitening or seeing a professional, here are some tips to keep in mind.
First off, at-home whitening kits offer very inconsistent results. Many consumers report using these products for years without noticing substantial changes to their smiles. Secondly, at-home kits are rarely cheaper than going to the dentist. Lastly, at-home whitening products can irritate your gums and potentially harm your teeth long-term.
According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the ideal candidate for whitening their teeth is anyone 18 years old or older with healthy gums and teeth. People with sensitive teeth, braces, periodontal disease, or previous bleaching experiences shouldn’t attempt this method.
Those interested in whitening their teeth should speak with a qualified dentist or doctor before taking action.
Teeth whitening has been around for centuries. Ancient Romans used hydrogen peroxide to bleach their teeth, although the practice was later abandoned due to the side effects of prolonged exposure.
Until recently, modern science caught up and began developing safe and efficient whitening agents. Today, there are dozens of products available across multiple price ranges.
Your dentist can determine if teeth whitening is right for you. They can assess your current oral condition and recommend treatments accordingly. Patients with gum problems, tartar buildup, or stained teeth may benefit from various techniques.
Before beginning any whitening regimen, be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist. Discuss your goals with them beforehand, and bring any relevant photos.