teeth whitening cost

How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?

Last Updated on January 6, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

If your teeth have become discolored or stained over time, you may be interested in whitening them for a brighter smile. But before you start researching different teeth whitening options, one of the first questions you probably have is – how much does it cost? In this article, we’ll break down the typical costs of various teeth whitening treatments so you can budget accordingly.

How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?

Teeth whitening costs anywhere between $5 and $1,000 depending on the treatment option you’re going for, although different treatment options will also come with different results. So let’s go over the different types of treatments and their costs:

In-Office Professional Teeth Whitening Cost

Getting your teeth whitened professionally at the dentist’s office generally ranges from $500-$1,000 per treatment session. In-office whitening provides the fastest and most dramatic results in one visit but is the most expensive option.

During an in-office session, your dentist will first isolate your lips and gums. Next, they apply a high-concentration hydrogen peroxide gel to your teeth and use a special curing light or laser to accelerate the whitening process (typically 30 minutes to an hour).

Professional teeth whitening can make teeth up to 10 shades whiter for many patients. However, results vary depending on the type of staining and original tooth color. Severely discolored teeth may require multiple treatments over several weeks.

Take-Home Whitening Kits From Your Dentist

For a more affordable alternative from your dentist, at-home teeth whitening kits cost $300-$600. These involve getting custom-fitted trays and whitening gel from your dentist to use at home over 1-2 weeks.

Your dentist makes impressions of your teeth to create customized trays. You’ll wear these a few hours per day with a whitening gel inside that gradually brightens your smile.

Take-home kits produce more gradual lightening over 7-14 days of use. While not as fast as in-office whitening, it is gentler and less likely to cause sensitivity.

Over-the-Counter Whitening Products

For more budget-friendly methods, there are a variety of over-the-counter teeth whitening products available:

  • Whitening Strips: $30 per treatment (14-28 strips)
  • Whitening Rinses: $10-$100
  • Whitening Toothpastes: $5-$10
  • LED Whitening Kits: $50-$200

Drugstores like CVS, Walgreens, and grocery stores sell leading whitening strip brands like Crest and Colgate for home use. These disposable strips coated with peroxide are applied daily for 10-30 minutes. Most strips cost $30-$45 and lighten teeth a few shades over 14 treatments.

Whitening toothpaste with whitening agents and abrasives to remove surface stains ranges from $5-$10. LED light devices and whitening rinses are at the higher end of over-the-counter options.

According to Dentaly.org, the cost of teeth whitening in the US varies from $20 to $1,800 or more, depending on the procedure. This includes various options such as laser teeth whitening at the dentist, LED whitening, professional bleaching kits, and at-home whitening kits.

Your Dentistry Guide writes that professional, in-office teeth whitening is the most expensive option, with a national average of $650 per visit. Over-the-counter strips and trays can range from $20 to $100.

Rejuvenation Health notes that the cost of professional whitening treatments at the dentist’s office can range from $5 to $1,000 per visit, while over-the-counter whitening products can cost as low as $5.

In-office teeth whitening can cost anywhere from $100 to $500 per session, while at-home bleaching tends to be less expensive at around $200 to $600 for the entire treatment, according to Flossy.

WebMD says that over-the-counter whitening strips and gels can cost around $10 to $55, while professional treatments at the dentist’s office can range from $5 to $1,000 per visit.

Common Additional Costs

There are a few potential additional costs to consider with teeth whitening:

  • Repeat whitening sessions for tough stains or maximum whiteness
  • Desensitizing gel before/after whitening if you experience sensitivity
  • Initial dental cleaning or treatment for cavities prior to whitening
  • Custom tray fee if using a take-home kit from your dentist

Talk to your dentist about costs that may apply to your unique situation. Many offer whitening package deals.

Does Insurance Cover Teeth Whitening?

Unfortunately, teeth whitening is considered an elective cosmetic procedure rather than medically necessary dental care. So insurance does not cover the cost of professional or at-home whitening treatments.

You’ll need to pay out-of-pocket without insurance coverage. The exception is if you need whitening for a medical reason like restoring a discolored tooth due to trauma. Then insurance may pay a portion.

Discuss options with your dentist and the exact costs you can expect to pay based on your specific needs and insurance coverage.

Ways to Reduce Teeth Whitening Costs

Here are some money-saving tips if whitening costs are prohibitive:

  • Ask your dentist about payment plans or discounts
  • Ask about whitening package deals if combining methods
  • Buy whitening products on sale or with coupons
  • Start with over-the-counter whitening before professional treatments
  • Get a free consult to determine the most affordable option
  • Consider dental tourism for in-office whitening abroad

If whitening is purely for cosmetic reasons, assess how much you are willing/able to spend with your budget. Weigh the cost versus how much it would boost your self-confidence with a whiter smile.

Additional Teeth Whitening Procedures

Beyond dedicated whitening products and treatments, you can also gradually whiten teeth with:

  • Brushing with whitening toothpaste daily
  • Having your teeth cleaned regularly by a hygienist
  • Avoiding heavily staining foods and drinks like coffee, tea, red wine, etc.
  • Quitting smoking and other tobacco products helps you get whiter teeth too

Good oral hygiene and limiting staining will naturally brighten your smile over time without the additional cost of whitening treatments.

How Long Do Whitening Results Last?

Teeth WhiteningTeeth whitening results last anywhere from a few months up to 3 years. However, for most people they last approximately 1-2 years before some re-staining occurs.

Avoiding highly pigmented food and drinks helps lengthen the duration of your whitening results. Continuing periodic at-home whitening can also maintain bright whiteness for longer.

Is Whitening Worth the Cost for You?

Teeth whitening costs can range hugely depending on treatment type and dentist fees. While on the more expensive end of dental treatments, it may be worthwhile if:

  • Stained teeth severely undermine your confidence
  • You have an upcoming major event like a wedding
  • An enhanced smile would provide a significant self-esteem boost

Discuss all of your teeth whitening options and associated costs with your dentist. They can help determine if and what type of whitening is right for you and your budget.

Final Words

The investment in your smile will help in terms of increased confidence and greater professional opportunities. But assess the costs compared to other priorities in your life and budget accordingly. Brighter teeth don’t have to come at too high a price.

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