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.
You have options.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
Explore your dental insurance options.
1 Investopedia – Does Dental Insurance Cover Teeth Whitening? Updated March 14, 2022. https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/111615/does-dental-insurance-cover-teeth-whitening.asp. Accessed May 8, 2023.
2 Dentaly.org – Best Professional Teeth Whitening – Cost and In-Office Procedure Types. Updated May 6, 2023. https://www.dentaly.org/us/teeth-whitening/professional-teeth-whitening/. Accessed May 8, 2023.
3 Forbes – Does Insurance Cover Teeth Whitening? Updated October 12, 2022. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/health-insurance/does-insurance-cover-teeth-whitening/. Accessed May 8, 2023.
4 Bankrate – How Much Does It Cost to Have Your Teeth Whitened? Updated July 7, 2017. https://www.bankrate.com/personal-finance/smart-money/how-much-does-teeth-whitening-cost/. Accessed May 8, 2023.
5 Forbes – How Much Does Dental Work Cost? Updated January 12, 2023. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/health-insurance/dental-work-cost/. Accessed May 8, 2023.
Coverage is underwritten by American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus. In New York, coverage is underwritten by American Family Life Assurance Company of New York. In Arkansas, Policies A81100AR–A81400AR. Policies A82100RAR–A82400RAR. In Delaware, Policies A81100–A81400. Policies A82100R–A82400R. In Idaho, Policies A81100ID–A81400ID. Policies A82100RID–A82400RID. In New York, Policies NY81100–NY81400. Policies NY82100–NY82400. In Oklahoma, Policies A81100OK–A81400OK. Policies A82100ROK–A82400ROK. In Oregon, Policies A81100OR–A81400OR. Policies A82100ROR–A82400ROR. In Pennsylvania, Policies A81100PA–A81400PA. Policies A82100RPA–A82400RPAR. In Texas, Policies A81100TX–A81400TX. Policies A82100RTX–A82400RTX. In Virginia, Policies A81100VA–A81200VA. Policies A82100RVA–A82400RVA.
Coverage underwritten by Tier One Insurance Company. Dental, Vision and Hearing: In Delaware, Policy T80000. In Idaho, Policy T80000ID. In Oklahoma, Policy T80000OK. Dental claims are administered by Aflac Benefits Solutions, Inc. Vision claims are administered by EyeMed Vision Care, LLC. Hearing claims are administered by Nations Hearing. NOTICE: The coverage offered is not a qualified health plan (QHP) under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and is not required to satisfy essential health benefits mandates of the ACA. The coverage provides limited benefits. Tier One Insurance Company is part of the Aflac family of insurers. In California, Tier One Insurance Company does business as Tier One Life Insurance Company (Tier One NAIC 92908).
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