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Does Insurance Cover Teeth Whitening?

A bright smile can do wonders for appearance and self-confidence. This makes teeth whitening a popular dental procedure. It can help correct discoloration and restore shine to your teeth.

However, teeth whitening procedures can be expensive, so some policyholders may wonder if they can use dental insurance to cover the cost of teeth whitening at the dentist’s office. Unfortunately, this procedure is typically not covered.

This article will explain why insurance doesn’t cover teeth whitening and how much this procedure can cost. Then, we’ll cover some lower-priced alternatives and what types of treatments dental insurance does cover.

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Is teeth whitening covered by insurance?

Teeth whitening is typically not covered by dental insurance because it's considered a cosmetic procedure.1 That means it improves appearance instead of correcting an oral health issue. It is not generally considered a medically necessary procedure, like a root canal or filling.

There are rare exceptions where whitening may be considered medically necessary, such as if a dental health issue has caused the discoloration. However, this is incidental to correcting the underlying health issue.

How much does in-office teeth whitening cost?

In-office teeth whitening costs can vary widely by provider, location, and method, but may range from $300 to $1800.2 Since dental insurance doesn’t cover teeth whitening in most cases, these costs can be expensive for many patients.

Ways to whiten your teeth without insurance

If in-office teeth whitening costs more than you’re comfortable paying, here are a few alternatives to whiten your teeth that may be more affordable:3

Custom whitening trays

Custom whitening trays are a lower-cost dental option than many in-office whitening treatments. Your dentist can use impressions of your teeth to create custom-fit whitening trays for home use. You can place the whitening gel in the tray, then place the tray on your teeth to apply the gel.

You generally wear the trays until the discoloration is gone. This teeth-whitening method may take several weeks, depending on the severity of the discoloration. Your dentist can provide further instructions.

Teeth whitening strips

Teeth whitening strips are a lower-cost DIY option that you place on your teeth. Each tooth whitening strip kit provides exact usage instructions. However, you generally apply the strips twice a day for a few weeks. Over time, the gel on the strips whitens your teeth. These cost $20 to $40 per box and can be found at pharmacies and grocery stores in the dental care products aisle.4

Teeth whitening toothpaste

Teeth whitening toothpaste is the simplest and lowest-cost option for whitening your teeth. You can buy these at grocery stores for around the same price as regular toothpaste. You use it exactly like regular toothpaste — brush at least twice a day.

What does dental insurance cover?

Dental insurance doesn’t generally cover cosmetic treatments, but it may help cover many routine and medically necessary procedures. It can help with basic routines to more complex issues. Most can help cover preventative and diagnostic services. And depending on the insurance policy you choose, it can help with more major expensive services.

Get a quote for dental insurance

Dental insurance doesn’t generally cover teeth whitening since this type of procedure is cosmetic. Fortunately, there are lower-priced whitening alternatives that are easy to access.

That said, dental insurance can be critical to have in order to save money. Critical preventative care like routine cleanings, exams, and X-rays alone can cost you hundreds of dollars per year.5 Those costs can increase dramatically if you need corrective procedures such as fillings or root canals.

Aflac is ready to help you get the dental insurance coverage you need at a rate you can afford. Contact us today for a dental insurance quote.

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