Fact Checked

How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?

Written by Fernanda Elizalde

July 19, 2022

Medically Reviewed

By Dr. Brian Harris, DDS

Tooth discoloration, stains, and yellow teeth are common aesthetic concerns. If you're looking to brighten your smile, teeth whitening treatments are a convenient and affordable way to whiten your smile.

Getting a teeth whitening treatment can make a massive difference in your self-esteem. In-office treatments and at-home teeth whitening options can lift stubborn stains and make your teeth several shades lighter. Many people also get their teeth whitened to feel more confident for special occasions such as birthdays, celebrations, and weddings.

So, how much does it cost to whiten your teeth?

 

 

The teeth whitening cost depends on the type of product or treatment. Since teeth whitening is considered cosmetic versus preventative, insurances do not typically cover the cost.

There are a variety of teeth whitening options. Many of these options are affordable and can give you amazing results at an affordable cost.

These options include in-office teeth whitening methods and at-home treatment options such as whitening toothpaste, custom whitening trays, LED devices, and whitening strips.

Learn more about types of teeth whitening and their costs.

Teeth whitening 101

Teeth tend to have a natural yellow-colored tone to them.

The food you consume also stains your teeth over time. For example, dark-colored foods and beverages such as coffee will tinge and stain teeth. Your daily habits also contribute to discoloration and teeth staining. Smokers often struggle with yellow or brown tooth discoloration.

Teeth whitening is a cosmetic dental procedure that lightens your teeth. There are many reasons to invest in teeth whitening. Getting your teeth whitened can positively influence your self-confidence and improve your mental health.

The cost of teeth whitening is usually quite affordable. However, the teeth whitening process for professional whitening treatments is more expensive than at-home treatments.

Teeth whitening is highly effective for natural teeth. However, it will not work on dental crowns or veneers. You may experience sensitivity after your treatment; teeth whitening products are considered safe by the American Dental Association as long as they're used in moderation.

What causes teeth staining?

Extrinsic vs. intrinsic stains

If you are looking to whiten your teeth, the best way to do this is by identifying what stains and discoloration your teeth have.

There are two different kinds of teeth staining and discoloration: extrinsic staining and intrinsic staining.

Extrinsic stains

Extrinsic stains refer to the stains that appear on the outer surface of your tooth. These are often caused by eating and drinking dark-tinted foods and smoking.

Maintaining a good oral health routine can limit the rate of extrinsic stains on your teeth. Brushing your teeth twice a day can also prevent stains from developing.

A more proactive strategy is to brush your teeth after each meal to avoid stains. Aside from preventative measures, teeth whitening methods can make your smile up to four to eight times brighter.

Intrinsic stains

Intrinsic stains develop deep within the inner layer of the tooth (dentin). In many cases, intrinsic stains develop in case of injury or overexposure to fluoride while your teeth are just developing.

It is much harder to treat and remove intrinsic stains than extrinsic stains since they're deeper. You cannot restore the natural color of your teeth with just whitening toothpaste if your teeth have this type of stain.

The best way to fix discolored teeth, in this case, is to consult a dental professional for an in-office treatment.

Professional teeth whitening costs

One significant benefit of in-office teeth whitening is precise and fast results. Professional teeth whitening methods involve the careful use of highly concentrated whitening agents.

A dentist or trained oral health professional performs the teeth whitening procedure.

Hydrogen peroxide treatment

Hydrogen peroxide treatment is a popular teeth whitening method alongside laser whitening. The dental professional performing your treatment begins with a dental cleaning to prep your teeth for the procedure. They clean your teeth by removing any plaque and tartar.

Then, your dentist will place a plastic appliance inside your mouth to keep it open. This helps hold the lips and cheeks away from the teeth and protect your gums from the bleaching solution.

Once your teeth are prepped and ready, the main procedure begins. The dentist will apply a whitening solution made of hydrogen peroxide. This gel sits on your teeth for a designated amount of time, depending on the intensity of your tooth staining.

The time frame is usually between 15 to 30 minutes. After removing the first coat, your dentist may apply a second coat of hydrogen peroxide and do another treatment.

It is safe to go for multiple hydrogen peroxide treatments for teeth whitening if needed. Of course, they'll need to be spaced out to prevent sensitive teeth and negative side effects.

Costs: The typical cost per visit is around $500.

Laser teeth whitening

Other professional teeth whitening options involve a laser to improve the effectiveness of the whitening agent being used. Laser whitening treatments start the same way as the regular hydrogen peroxide treatment.

The dentist cleans and prepares the teeth by removing plaque and tartar, and protects the gums.

Next up, the laser treatment involves shining a special laser light onto the teeth. Then, the dentist will apply the whitening gel to your teeth. You will need to sit with the gel and light for at least 15 minutes to see results.

Usually, you only need around two to three applications in one visit, meaning three 15-minute sessions of applying gel and laser light to your teeth. The laser whitening treatment does not end here. Your dentist may advise you to use at-home whitening solutions afterward as maintenance.

Costs: The total cost for laser teeth whitening treatment is around $500.

Deep Bleaching

Deep bleaching treats stubborn extrinsic teeth stains. This may be your best teeth whitening option if you need to remove darker stains.

The dentist prepares your teeth by using a gentle abrasive substance such as pumice powder to polish teeth. Polishing the teeth allows the tooth surface to be more receptive to the treatment.

Then, it is time to apply a whitening solution with the help of custom-fitted dental trays. It's essential to let the gel in these trays sit on your teeth for around 20 minutes. The bleaching agent may cause tooth sensitivity. The dentist will also recommend an at-home treatment to complete your deep bleaching teeth whitening.

This at-home treatment lasts for up to 14 days; afterward, you'll need to revisit your dentist. The dentist will perform another session of deep bleaching. To maintain the results, you need to continue your at-home whitening treatment every 2 to 3 weeks.

At least two dental office visits are necessary to get the desired results.

Costs: This entire process costs around $1200, but the price can also go up to $2500, depending on your case.

Dental Veneers

If intrinsic stains cannot be removed, dental veneers may be the best option to cover stained and discolored teeth. It is beneficial for people with stubborn tooth stains.

Dental veneers act as a shell, covering the affected surface of your teeth. Your dentist will carefully fix the dental veneers in your teeth to create a brand new smile.

Costs: The cost of teeth whitening dental veneers ranges between $1200 to $3,500 per tooth. The price also varies depending on the materials used in the veneers.

Custom whitening trays

Custom-fitted whitening trays are also very popular. A dentist takes mold impressions of your teeth and provides you with customized trays. These are much more comfortable since they're molded perfectly to your teeth. The dentist will also provide you with a whitening solution to use with the trays at home.

Costs: Custom-fitted dental whitening trays usually cost between $250 - $350. 

Popular In-Office Teeth Whitening Procedures

Here are some additional advanced teeth whitening procedures that are growing in popularity.

Zoom Whitening

Zoom whitening is an FDA-approved teeth whitening method that is highly effective and yields outstanding results. This procedure can successfully restore up to 90% of your teeth's brightness. It only takes about an hour's worth of time in the dentist's office.

Zoom loads a teeth whitening gel into custom-fitted trays; it's a popular same-day teeth whitening treatment. You can wear these trays for several hours a day for twelve days minimum.

This method works using a light-activated bleaching gel that instantly brightens the teeth by oxidizing stain particles.

A professional Zoom treatment provides instant results and is also quite convenient.

Costs: A Zoom whitening treatment costs around$300 to $600 per visit.

Opalescence Boost

Opalescence Boost is another popular teeth whitening method. The minimally invasive procedure successfully treats teeth with discoloration. The formula uses an Opalescence Xtra Boost gel.

This gel is most suitable for treating tooth discolorations caused by tooth trauma, medications, and other conditions. Getting an Opalescence Boost teeth whitening treatment is also effective for lifting stubborn surface stains.

The Opalescence Boost gel is a bleaching gel with 38% hydrogen peroxide. There is no need to use an activating light to make the gel effective for teeth whitening. This gel is also quite sticky, so it does not slip off your teeth after applying.

Furthermore, Opalescence Boost does not cause as much sensitivity as other teeth whitening treatments. Bleaching gel also contains PF, a mixture of fluoride and potassium nitrate. The best thing about choosing this teeth whitening method is that it is effective, potentially more affordable than Zoom, and yet delivers fast results.

Costs: Opalescence Boost treatment costs around $500 per visit.

Kor Whitening

Kor whitening treatment is an effective dental cosmetic procedure that removes several stains and discolorations of the teeth. It helps treat teeth that have been discolored because of over-exposure to tetracycline antibiotics when the teeth were still developing.

Initially, the Kor treatment starts in your dentist's office. After this phase, you must wear custom-fitted dental trays once every month to maintain the results. However, you will need to follow up with other at-home whitening treatment methods.

The reason dentists give this teeth whitening method high ratings is due to its rising popularity in the United States. It's one of the most popular whitening systems. Although a little extensive, the procedure is highly effective.

One reason for the effectiveness of this teeth whitening method is custom-fitted whitening dental trays; they fit snugly over natural teeth. You can also refrigerate the gel to maintain its teeth whitening strength.

Costs: The Kor teeth whitening treatment costs between $500 and $1000.

Does insurance cover professional teeth whitening services?

Insurance does not generally cover teeth whitening treatments since they are considered cosmetic procedures. It is not medically necessary to get your teeth whitened; it's more of a personal decision to enhance your overall appearance. So, the patient is fully responsible for the cost of teeth whitening and will need to pay out-of-pocket for whitening services.

However, some dental practitioners also offer in-office payment plans to make whitening procedures more attainable and affordable for their patients.

You may also benefit from some credit options available at your dentist's office. Interest is usually not applicable within the first six to twelve months but always check before signing up for your treatment.

 


 

Summary

There are a variety of teeth whitening products and professional treatments available. Professional teeth whitening and at-home treatments both yield outstanding results. Professional treatments tend to be more expensive, but they provide faster results.

Many affordable options and payment plans can work with your budget for professional treatments. Some of the most popular professional teeth whitening methods include Zoom, Opalescence, and Kor.

Teeth whitening procedures may have side effects such as tooth sensitivity and discomfort for a few days after treatment. Taking your time to find the right dentist or oral health professional for your whitening treatment is essential.