The cost of teeth whitening (at John T Green DDS) will vary depending upon what type of whitening method you decide to pursue. At-home teeth whitening kits tend to be more affordable than professional whitening procedures; however, they may not provide results as quickly and may need to be applied with more frequency.
Additional factors that may play a role in the final cost of teeth whitening include your geographic location, if any additional procedures need to be performed, how frequently you have the procedure performed, and what type of technology is used to perform the teeth whitening.
Average Cost Of Teeth Whitening
The most expensive (and most effective) method for whitening teeth is a laser whitening treatment, which costs (on average) around $1,000.
Having your teeth whitened in-office will cost approximately $600, and while this is significantly more money than the cost of take-home kits or other teeth whitening products, such as gels, gums, or whitening toothpaste, which can range from $5 to $50, having your teeth whitened in office will result in a significantly brighter smile, because your dentist can use a stronger concentration of hydrogen peroxide.
A popular option for patients looking to have faster and better results, but for whom cost is a significant consideration, is to have a customized tray made to address your unique dental needs.
Once the tray is formed, your dentist will provide instructions for wearing the trays at home. These custom kits typically cost around $250 to $500, with an additional $30 factored in for annual maintenance.
Preventing Staining From Occurring
Teeth can become stained for a variety of reasons, the most common of which is poor oral hygiene, tobacco use, or excessive consumption of certain foods or beverages. Teeth staining can also be the result of an underlying issue.
If you are interested in having brighter, whiter teeth and are looking to avoid paying costly office bills, here are a few things you can do to improve the appearance of your teeth.
- Practice Good Oral Hygiene: One of the most effective methods for avoiding and correcting stained teeth is to practice good daily oral hygiene habits. Be sure that you brush and floss twice daily, ideally using a toothpaste with fluoride or whitening agents. It is also important to replace your toothbrush every three or four months.
- Avoid Staining Foods: Although it can be hard to avoid soda, tea, or a nice glass of wine, each of these beverages can play a primary role in causing your teeth to stain. Foods like tomato sauce and certain berries can also cause your teeth to stain.
- Stop Using Tobacco: There are countless reasons why it is a good idea to stop using tobacco, one of which is that use of tobacco will not only jeopardize your health, but will also stain your teeth, especially smokeless tobacco.
- Routine Dental Checkups: In addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and being conscious of your diet, scheduling dental exams every six months (or more frequently for patients prone to periodontal issues) will allow your dentist to remove plaque and staining substances that will brighten up your smile.
What Causes Tooth Discoloration?
Tooth discoloration occurs for many different reasons. The most common is exposure to certain foods and drinks (surface stains).
The holes, bumps, and grooves in teeth soak up color from foods and beverages. This causes darkening, yellowing, and white spots over time.
Surface stains are the easiest to fix with a regular teeth whitening treatment.
The most common foods and beverages that cause surface stains include:
- Dark tea
- Dark soda
- Red wine
- Dark fruits
- Fruit juices
A variety of other things can also affect tooth color:
- Medical treatments
- Amalgam restorations
- Medications, especially tetracycline
- Tobacco use
These stains are typically deeper than surface stains caused by dark-colored foods.
Benefits of teeth whitening
Every day, patients request tooth whitening from their dentist or purchase whitening products from their local drug store. Bright, white teeth look natural since you are just enhancing your own teeth and not replacing them with artificial covers like veneers or crowns.
Teeth whitening is non-invasive—it does not require any drilling away of any tooth structure—and typically does not require the use of any anesthetics. Unlike crowns and veneers, whitening your natural teeth provides a subtle improvement in your appearance. Your teeth remain the same shape and size.
Professional Whitening vs. At-Home Teeth Whitening Costs
Luckily, there are many products available that reduce tooth discoloration. This includes both at-home and professional whitening treatments.
However, there is a significant difference in the cost and effectiveness of these products.
Over-The-Counter (OTC) Teeth Whitening Costs
OTC methods make whitening easy and affordable for everyone.
These products require more effort on your part than visiting a dentist for professional whitening treatment. But treatment costs hundreds less.
Keep in mind that OTC whitening requires more upkeep than professional whitening. The results also aren’t instant.
The most common OTC teeth whitening products include:
1. Whitening Strips
You can buy whitening strips online or from a variety of different stores. They usually cost between $10 and $50 per package for several strips.
Simply place the strips over your teeth and leave them on for about 30 minutes.
Whitening strips typically work well. But some people struggle to keep them on their teeth. Many people also experience increased sensitivity after using whitening strips.
2. Whitening Trays
This is an aggressive option that provides professional-level results with the added convenience of whitening at home. Treatment takes longer than professional treatments like Zoom.
The price for custom whitening trays ranges from about $100 to $600.
To get custom whitening trays, you’ll need to visit your dentist for an impression. This is used to create custom trays that fit your mouth perfectly.
You’ll use the trays and bleaching agent provided to gradually whiten your teeth.
You can also use non-custom whitening trays. These are available for $10 to $30 and don’t fit as snugly over your teeth. The downside of non-custom trays is uneven whitening and messier application.
Like many whitening options, at-home trays tend to make your teeth more sensitive. Fortunately, desensitizing gels are available. Ask your dentist about this if you’re concerned about pain.
3. Whitening Toothpaste
This is the simplest of all the whitening methods. Whitening toothpaste contains low levels of peroxide and is typically used once or twice a day.
You’re probably already using whitening toothpaste. If not, there are plenty of affordable options on the market.
Most whitening toothpaste costs between $3 and $15, depending on the brand and whitening intensity.
Whitening toothpaste doesn’t change the natural color of your teeth or lighten deeper stains. They contain abrasives that polish teeth and peroxide that dissolves stains.
This method is best if you have light surface stains or want to maintain your tooth color after a more intensive whitening treatment.
The most aggressive whitening toothpastes contain blue covarine. This is a chemical that adheres to teeth and makes them look less yellow, without actually removing stains.
You’ll see improvements in about 2 to 6 weeks of using whitening toothpaste daily.
4. LED Teeth Whitening Products
LED whitening kits are a new method of at-home whitening. These kits have increased in popularity in recent years. They cost between $50 and $300.
This method is non-invasive and uses an LED light to speed up the whitening process.
LED whitening products remove stubborn stains and strengthen your teeth. They also provide quick and effective whitening results.
During the LED whitening process, the teeth are first painted with a bleaching agent (usually peroxide-based). Then the LED light is used to activate the whitening agent and start the chemical reaction.
When this interaction occurs, the blue LED light penetrates the enamel and lifts existing stains.
LED lights are highly efficient. They don’t have a warm-up time and switch on at their highest intensity.
Professional Teeth Whitening Costs
Professional teeth whitening products are more expensive than at-home treatments. The average price for in-office whitening ranges from $450 to $1,000 per treatment.
Some of the most popular professional whitening methods include:
Zoom Whitening whitens teeth significantly – up to 90% of their maximum brightness. It’s an FDA-approved whitening method that takes 1 hour in a dentist’s office.
Zoom also offers a less aggressive home whitening option. You’ll wear custom trays filled with gel for several hours a day for up to 12 days. Treatment is completed in the comfort of your own home.
Professional Zoom treatments are easy, convenient, and provide instant results. Like most whitening methods, Zoom can cause tooth sensitivity.
The average cost of Zoom teeth whitening is between $300 and $600.
Opalescence Xtra Boost is a minimally invasive method for treating discolored teeth.
The gel works best on discoloration caused by prescription medications, tooth trauma, and other conditions. It also helps lift surface stains.
Boost uses a 38-percent hydrogen peroxide power bleaching gel that requires no special light for activation. The gel is sticky, which means you don’t need to worry about it slipping off of your teeth once it’s applied.
BOOST has a slightly lower risk of sensitivity because it contains PF. This is a mixture of potassium nitrate and fluoride.
Opalescence is cheaper than Zoom (around $500 per treatment).
3. Kor Whitening
Kor restores oxygen in teeth, removing all stains and discoloration. It’s especially effective for treating tetracycline-discolored teeth.
Kor’s initial treatment is done in a dentist’s office. The follow-up treatments are done at home. After this phase is complete, you’ll wear the trays once a month to maintain results.
Kor gets high ratings from dentists for its effectiveness, in part because the whitening trays fit snugly over teeth. This reduces the risk of saliva diluting the whitening gel. The gel is also refrigerated to maintain its potency.
KöR is slightly cheaper than Zoom. Treatment costs between $500 and $1,000.
Does Insurance Cover Professional Teeth Whitening?
No. Whitening is considered a cosmetic treatment. This means its main purpose is to improve the appearance of teeth. It’s not medically necessary.
Like most treatments that are not medically necessary, the patient is responsible for the full cost. However, some dental practices offer payment plans to make whitening procedures more affordable.
There are also some credit options available for whitening and other cosmetic procedures.
You’ll still pay for the services out of pocket — but you can stretch the payments out over time. Interest may or may not be applied.
What are the side effects of teeth whitening?
Having your teeth whitened—whether at home or in your dental office—does have some minor drawbacks. Before starting any whitening treatments, consider these two common side effects.⁴
Temporary sensitivity is common with all types of whitening. Both in-office and over-the-counter products produce some sensitivity within a few days of the start of treatments. It usually resolves on its own within a few days after treatment stops.
Some dentists prescribe special kinds of toothpaste or gels to help combat sensitivity. Others may apply a desensitizing agent to your teeth before starting treatment.
These may or may not help. Rest assured, however, that the sensitivity will likely go away soon after your whitening treatments are complete.
Certain whitening products use peroxide-based gels, which can irritate the gums. Sometimes the trays—especially the over-the-counter types that are not custom fitted by a dentist—rub against the gums, causing some temporary soreness.
If your custom tray is irritating your gums, your dentist can help adjust it for a better fit. Like the sensitivity, any gum irritations from the gels or trays typically resolve quickly when treatment ends.
One common factor in the ongoing side effects of teeth whitening is the overuse of the products. Do not wear the trays or use strips, pastes, or gels longer than recommended.
Always follow the directions on the label or the instructions from your dentist when using these products. Overuse of whiteners can help damage the enamel and the gums.
Teeth Whitening Alternatives
Here are a few (more expensive) teeth whitening alternatives:
A veneer is a thin, tooth-colored shell that fits over the front of your tooth. The shell changes the color, shape, and size of the tooth.
Veneers fix a wide range of cosmetic issues but can’t repair damaged teeth. The most common veneer materials include porcelain and composite. Porcelain veneers are the strongest and most natural-looking option.
Veneers are much more expensive than teeth whitening treatment. They cost anywhere between $470 and $2,500 per tooth. Although pricey, the results last up to 25 years.
Dental bonding provides a solution for minor damage or gaps between teeth. It’s usually used to fix dental issues such as tooth chips, fractures, or gaps.
Similar to teeth whitening treatment, bonding can improve tooth discoloration. Dental bonding procedures cost around $300 to $600 per tooth (without insurance).
The Bottom Line
According to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry, in-office teeth whitening costs, on average, $650, compared with $400 for take-home trays and under $100 for over-the-counter bleaching trays or strips.
The price increases or decreases depending on location and office pricing. As insurance is not involved, there isn’t a usual and customary fee, which is why the pricing varies from office to office.
Because of the high price of cosmetic procedures, patients must research other payment options. While many cosmetic dental or orthodontic offices are familiar with offering their patients different payment plans, patients can also opt to charge their procedures to zero-interest or low-interest health care credit cards, such as CareCredit.com.
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