Dentistry
Cosmetic
Product Reviews
Updated on September 29, 2022

Teeth Whitening Costs

NewMouth is reader supported. We may earn a commission if you purchase something using one of our links. Advertising Disclosure.

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:

In-Office LED Kits Strips Toothpaste Mouthwash
Cost $262 to $1,180 $50 to $300 $10 to $50 $3 to $15 $2 to $10
Peroxide Level 20 to 40% 10 to 20% 5 to 15% up to 5% up to 2%
Time 2 hours per session 10 to 45 min per session 30 minutes per session 2 minutes a day 30 seconds a day
Upkeep Every 6 months to a year A few times a month A few times a month Daily or a few times a week Daily or a few times a week
Sensitivity Moderate risk, temporary Moderate risk, temporary Moderate risk, temporary Low risk, temporary Low risk, temporary

What Causes Tooth Discoloration?

Tooth discoloration occurs for many different reasons. The most common is exposure to certain foods and drinks, but many other things can also affect tooth color.

Tooth stains can be either extrinsic (affecting tooth surfaces) or intrinsic (within the tooth itself).

Extrinsic Stains

Extrinsic stains, or surface stains, are the easiest to remove with bleaching.

These stains are often the result of exposure to certain foods, drinks, and tobacco products. The pits and grooves in teeth can soak up color from these substances. This causes brown and yellow spots over time.

The most common foods and beverages that cause surface stains include:

  • Coffee
  • Dark tea
  • Dark soda
  • Red wine
  • Dark fruits
  • Fruit juices
  • Leafy green vegetables 
  • Dark chocolate  

Tobacco use, smoking or otherwise, can also result in surface stains over time. Plaque and tooth decay can also cause teeth to appear yellow or brown.

At-home kits and in-office treatments are usually effective at removing these kinds of stains. 

Intrinsic Stains

Intrinsic stains are deeper than surface stains and are harder to get rid of. Rather than a colorful substance leaching into the enamel, these stains result from changes inside of the tooth. 

Some causes of intrinsic stains include:

  • An injury to the tooth
  • Fluorosis (excessive fluoride exposure)
  • Certain medications, such as tetracycline antibiotics
  • Genetics or certain medical conditions

An injury to a tooth can also cause an extrinsic stain to become intrinsic, as colorful foods or other substances can pass through fractures in the enamel.

Unfortunately, these kinds of stains won’t always respond as well to whitening treatment. Dental restorations such as veneers, crowns, or dental bonding may be needed to provide a fully restored appearance.

Note that your teeth can also appear yellow due to worn enamel. Dentin, the layer of tissue beneath the enamel, is naturally yellow.

Whitening treatment won’t be effective for teeth with severely worn enamel. This is another situation where dental restorations may be a better option.

Professional Whitening vs. At-Home Teeth Whitening Costs

Luckily, many products are available that reduce tooth discoloration. This includes both at-home and professional whitening treatments.

However, there are significant differences 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 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 and may not be as drastic as those achieved by in-office whitening.

The most common OTC teeth whitening products include:

1. Whitening Strips

You can buy whitening strips online or from various 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.

Crest 3D Whitestrips Sensitive Teeth Whitening Kit

Read Best Teeth Whitening Strips of 2021

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.

Custom whitening trays range 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 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.

teeth whitening at home

3. Whitening Toothpaste

This is the simplest of all whitening methods. Whitening toothpastes contain low levels of peroxide or abrasives and are typically used once or twice a day.

Peroxide dissolves stains, and gentle abrasives can polish teeth. However, whitening toothpastes won’t change the natural color of your teeth or lighten deeper stains.

You may already be 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.

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 chemical adheres to teeth and makes them look less yellow without removing stains.

You’ll see improvements in about 2 to 6 weeks after using a whitening toothpaste daily.

Colgate Optic White

Read Best Whitening Toothpastes of 2021

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. 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 activates the whitening agent and starts 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.

glo whitening brilliant 1

Read Best Teeth Whitening Kits of 2021

Professional Teeth Whitening Costs 

Professional teeth whitening products are more expensive than at-home treatments. The average price for in-office whitening ranges from $262 to $1,180 per treatment.

Some popular professional whitening methods include:

1. ZOOM

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.

2. BOOST

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, so you don’t need to worry about it slipping off 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 completing this phase, you'll wear the trays monthly to maintain results.

Kor gets high ratings from dentists for its effectiveness, partly 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.

Teeth Whitening Alternatives

Here are a few (more expensive) teeth whitening alternatives:

Veneers

A veneer is a thin, tooth-colored shell that fits over the front of your tooth. The shell can change the tooth's color, shape, and size.

Veneers fix many 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 treatments. They cost anywhere between $659 and $1,618 per tooth. Although pricey, the results can last up to 25 years.

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding solves 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).

10 Sources Cited
Last updated on September 29, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Janell, Author. “The BEST Method of At-Home Teeth Whitening.” Saving You Dinero, 2020.
  2. Is Whitening Toothpaste Worth the Extra Money?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2021.
  3. Carey, Clifton M. “Tooth whitening: what we now know.” The journal of evidence-based dental practice, 2014.
  4. Markowitz, Kenneth. “Pretty Painful: Why Does Tooth Bleaching Hurt?” Medical Hypotheses, 2010.
  5. Eimar, Hazem, et al. “Hydrogen Peroxide Whitens Teeth by Oxidizing the Organic Structure.” Journal of Dentistry, 2012.
  6. Basting, RT et al. “Clinical Comparative Study of the Effectiveness of and Tooth Sensitivity to 10% and 20% Carbamide Peroxide Home-Use and 35% and 38% Hydrogen Peroxide In-Office Bleaching Materials Containing Desensitizing Agents.” Operative Dentistry, 2012.
  7. Fiorillo, Luca, et al. “Dental Whitening Gels: Strengths and Weaknesses of an Increasingly Used Method.” Gels (Basel, Switzerland), 2019.
  8. Tooth Discoloration: Causes, Treatment & Prevention.” Cleveland Clinic.
  9. How Does KöR Whitening Work?” KöR Whitening, 2019.
  10. Opalescence Teeth Whitening.” Opalescence.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram