How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?
Teeth whitening treatment is a convenient and affordable way to brighten your smile.
There are many whitening options available that vary in price:
- Professional teeth whitening costs between $450 and $1,000 per treatment
- Teeth whitening strips cost between $10 and $50 per package
- Custom whitening trays cost between $100 and $600
- Teeth whitening toothpaste costs between $3 and $15
- LED teeth whitening kits cost between $50 and $300
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 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.
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 whitening methods. Whitening toothpastes contain low levels of peroxide and are 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 toothpastes cost between $3 and $15, depending on the brand and whitening intensity.
Whitening toothpastes don'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?
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.
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).