What’s in a smile? A lot, it turns out! Smiling has far-reaching implications, from boosting your confidence to enhancing relationships and even improving your mood and overall health. So it’s no wonder why so many people are opting to whiten their teeth and improve their smiles!
One of the most commonly asked questions with regards to teeth whitening is about expected cost. There are countless teeth whitening options on the market today. From at-home solutions that cost just a few dollars per treatment to professional teeth whitening treatments that can be performed only at a dental office, there are treatments to fit almost any budget. However, before beginning a teeth whitening treatment, it’s crucial to consider up-front cost and overall cost, as some of the more affordable options do not deliver as noticeable results as pricier professional whitening treatments, which may make at-home whitening options more expensive in the long run.
Professional Teeth Whitening Prices
Professional teeth whitening is the safest and most effective way to whiten teeth. A trained dentist can monitor your treatment to ensure your health and safety and has access to professional-grade products with a higher concentration of whitening ingredients that are not available in stores. Unfortunately, because these treatments require the time of a dental professional and more costly equipment and products, they are the most expensive way to whiten teeth. However, while professional teeth whitening has the highest upfront cost, the price may be lower over the lifetime of the results. For example, getting one professional whitening treatment may be less costly than buying several dozen at-home treatments that must be applied consistently to achieve the same results. There are two main types of professional teeth whitening: chemical teeth whitening and laser teeth whitening.
Cost of Professional Chemical Whitening
Chemical teeth whitening, also called bleaching, is a standard and safe procedure that visibly brightens teeth quickly and effectively. A trained dentist will apply professional-grade whitening gel with an active whitening ingredient such as hydrogen peroxide during this procedure. Your dentist will then use a mouthpiece or tray to keep the gel in place and allow it to penetrate the enamel and whiten your teeth. The whitening formula chemically breaks down and erases stains and discoloration, revealing a whiter smile. The procedure can take between 45 minutes and 3 hours, depending on the dental office.
Professional chemical whitening, or teeth bleaching, varies in price depending on the brand, formulation, and which dental office you are visiting. However, you can typically expect a chemical whitening procedure to cost between $400-700 for a single in-office treatment. Many people who opt to undergo professional chemical whitening find that one treatment is enough to achieve their desired results. In contrast, others may need multiple treatments to whiten their teeth thoroughly.
Cost of Professional Laser Whitening
Professional laser whitening uses a combination of professional-grade whitening gel, a mouthpiece, and light to amplify the whitening gel. Light and heat accelerate the whitening process, making the whitening gel more effective. For this reason, laser whitening typically takes less time than chemical bleaching. The most effective professional whitening treatment is GLO Science Professional Whitening, the only treatment that uses gentle heat and light to provide the fastest whitening results.
When getting a laser whitening treatment, your dentist will cover the soft tissue of your mouth with a protective film and apply a whitening gel with hydrogen peroxide as an active ingredient. Your provider will then shine a light on your teeth, which amplifies the power of the teeth whitening gel and speeds up the whitening process.
This highly effective treatment is more expensive than other whitening treatments, costing $400 and $1,500. While it is difficult to determine your exact treatment cost, a dental professional will be able to assess your current enamel shade, discuss your smile goals, and prescribe a whitening treatment plan with a price estimate. This treatment may have a higher up-front cost but typically yields the best results in the shortest amount of time and requires very little maintenance. Many users return to their dentists for ‘touch up’ treatments annually and use an at-home whitening kits or devices and even teeth whitening pens between visits to maintain results.
Insurance Coverage and Teeth Whitening
Most insurance providers consider teeth whitening a cosmetic procedure, meaning that it does not treat injury or illness and is merely to enhance appearance. Since teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure, most insurance companies do not cover whitening treatments. You may, however, be eligible for a payment plan through your provider.
Dental insurance often covers the cost of routine dental visits and cleanings, which will help to optimize your oral health and prevent stains and enamel damage. An excellent first step in achieving a pearly white smile is proper dental hygiene and annual dental exams.
At-Home Teeth Whitening Options Pricing
Want professional-grade whitening results without sitting in a dentist's chair? You may want to consider doctor-prescribed at-home whitening options. Dentists often carry whitening products in their office that you can bring home to whiten any time you want. However, professional-grade whitening ingredients and devices are available only from your dentist. The cost of dentist-prescribed teeth whitening varies but is typically more expensive than retail whitening because they are sold exclusively at dental offices and offer higher quality ingredients.
Cost of Dentist Prescribed Teeth Whitening Products
For optimal whitening results at home, you may want to consider a professional whitening kit available through your dentist. These kits are a great all-in-one whitening solution to achieve a brighter smile from the comfort of home. Each kit contains a mouthpiece that may also emit light or light and heat to accelerate and amplify whitening. These kits also include whitening gel with higher concentrations of active ingredients available only through your dentist. Most professional-grade whitening kits cost between $200-$400 at your dental office.
Custom Teeth Whitening Trays
Another option to whiten at home is having custom teeth bleaching trays made by your dentist. The tray itself does not whiten teeth but must be paired with a whitening gel that brightens enamel. A custom teeth whitening tray is tailor-made to ensure a snug fit, allowing the whitening gel to adhere to enamel and provide optimal whitening. The longer whitening gel remains on the enamel, the better it will work, so a custom tray that fits well and allows you to whiten for longer will yield better results. Your dentist will be able to suggest a professional-grade whitening gel to accompany your custom whitening tray. Then, you will fill the tray with whitening gel at home and whiten as desired. This whitening method can be more time-intensive and expensive, as it requires a custom mold of your teeth. Custom teeth whitening trays can range from a few hundred dollars to $700.
Dentist Prescribed Teeth Whitening Gel
Every teeth whitening method requires a teeth whitening gel with an active bleaching ingredient. The most common professional whitening ingredient is hydrogen peroxide, a chemical compound that acts as a lightening agent on enamel. Hydrogen peroxide is available in lower concentrations at stores, but only dental professionals carry higher concentration formulas that are safe and effective to whiten teeth.
Whitening gel can be used alone, with a whitening tray, or with a device that emits light to brighten teeth faster. The whitening gel is often bundled with a whitening kit through your dental office, but you can purchase whitening gel refills for $30-$100 from your dentist. Refills typically contain enough whitening gel for multiple treatments, so one refill package may be enough to whiten all year long.
Cost of Over-The-Counter Teeth Whitening Products
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, you can find several over-the-counter teeth whitening products that will help to lighten stains and reveal a brighter smile. Over-the-counter teeth whitening treatments are accessible and can be found at nearly every drugstore.
Keep in mind that over-the-counter whitening options do not contain concentrated ingredients and will not yield immediate results. In addition, most of these whitening treatments must be used consistently to achieve noticeable whitening results but are good options to maintain professional whitening results.
One of the most popular over-the-counter teeth whitening treatments is whitening strips. Whitening strips are affordable, usually costing between $17 and $50for a box at popular retailers. Pay close attention to how many whitening strips are included in each package, as buying in bulk typically decreases the cost per treatment.
Teeth-whitening strips are relatively straightforward to use. The strips come in individually wrapped packets that contain two whitening strips: one for the upper teeth and one for the lower teeth. Each strip is made of thin, flexible plastic coated with whitening gel. To use, simply peel the strips from the plastic film backing and apply them to the front of the teeth. Next, smooth the strips over the front of the teeth to adhere, and then fold over the back of the teeth to secure. Strips are usually left between 15 and 30 minutes. However, application time may vary, so be sure to check the instructions and do not leave on for longer than directed.
White strips take several applications to whiten teeth. Most whitening strips require twice-daily applications for several days in a row before yielding visible results. In addition, users often buy several whitening strip kits and use them each month to whiten teeth and maintain results. So, while these easy-to-use whitening strips may have a low price, the cost can certainly add up over time.
Whitening trays are an at-home whitening staple and have been commonplace for many years. However, the name ‘whitening trays’ may be misleading as the trays themselves do not whiten but must be paired with a whitening gel. The tray itself acts as a barrier to keep the gel on teeth for longer, allowing it to whiten teeth chemically. You can find trays designed for teeth bleaching from retailers for around $10 and combine with a whitening gel at a similar price point, bringing the total cost to approximately $20. In addition, many users opt to buy a kit that contains pre-filled whitening trays to make whitening even easier. These kits typically cost between $50 and $80.
Whitening toothpaste is a foolproof way to integrate whitening into your oral health routine. It is a twice-daily boost to whitening, and while it will not deliver immediate results or get enamel several shades whiter, it can help buff away surface stains and maintain results from a professional treatment. Nearly every toothpaste available boasts whitening power as the mechanical action of brushing teeth may buff away stains and whiten the surface of teeth. However, to truly brighten enamel, the toothpaste must be specially formulated with an active whitening ingredient like hydrogen peroxide that chemically bleaches teeth. This cost-effective option ranges from $3 to $5 and is a great way to gently whiten sensitive teeth.
Teeth Whitening Cost In a Nutshell
Teeth whitening is a great way to enhance your smile and boost confidence. There are teeth whitening treatments that range from a few dollars to professional treatments costing hundreds of dollars. Cheaper over-the-counter methods are the most inexpensive but work slowly and do not yield impressive results. Professional whitening options have a higher up-front cost but are usually the fastest and most effective whitening method. It is important to note that whitening is not one-size-fits-all, and a dental professional will be able to give an expert recommendation on what whitening method is best for you.
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