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How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost with Insurance?

Dental insurance helps you pay for dental procedures needed to maintain good dental health and treat any problems you may have. Teeth whitening is a popular treatment, leading many to wonder how much it costs and whether their insurance plan can help cover it. Let’s dive deeper into the types of teeth whitening, how long they last, and how much each costs to help you pick the best approach for your needs.

What is teeth whitening?

Teeth whitening is a cosmetic dental procedure that uses a bleaching agent to lighten the color of your teeth, restoring their white color. Common bleaching agents include hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide.1 The agent whitens your teeth by penetrating the enamel to break down the stains and restore the tooth’s natural color.

Teeth whitening only works on natural teeth, not crowns or implants. Treatments can be performed in a dental office or at home, depending on the condition of the patient’s teeth and their personal preferences.

Types of teeth whitening treatments

There are three main kinds of teeth whitening treatments, each varying in their level of professional supervision:

Professional whitening

Professional whitening is performed by a dental professional in their office. The dentist starts by examining your tooth against a tooth shading chart to determine how much whitening they may need. Then, they use a high concentration bleaching agent under controlled conditions to complete whitening faster since they can isolate each tooth. They may also employ lasers or other technologies to maximize the whitening.2

Professional whitening tends to offer the best and quickest results since the professional works directly on your teeth. However, it’ll cost more due to the time and resources involved. This teeth whitening method may be a good option if you have a larger budget and want the most effective whitening.

Custom whitening trays

Some teeth whitening patients may opt for custom whitening trays instead of professional whitening. For this treatment, the dentist takes impressions of your teeth to create trays that fit your teeth perfectly. You can place whitening gel within these trays, then wear them for a specified amount of time each day.2

Custom whitening trays balance professional assistance with cost considerations. The bleaching agent is weaker than professional treatment but stronger than over-the-counter products. They can work well for those who want to reduce dental costs while receiving professional guidance.

Over-the-counter whitening

Over-the-counter whitening treatment involves purchasing a whitening treatment kit from the oral care section of a store. OTC whitening kits may include whitening strips, gel, and toothpaste.

This option requires more work and takes longer to see results, as the bleaching agent is lower in concentration than that used in professional and custom tray treatments. However, OTC whitening is the most affordable option. Therefore, it can work well if you want to save money or don’t have major discoloration.

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How long does teeth whitening last?

Each treatment type varies in the length of results due to differences in professional involvement, bleaching agent concentration, and other factors:3

Treatment Type Average Duration of Results
Professional whitening One year
Custom whitening trays Six months to one year
Whitening toothpaste Three to four months with consistent use
Whitening strips Six months
Whitening pens One week

Keep in mind that the duration of your results can vary with your oral health habits, too. Good oral hygiene, avoiding smoking, and minimizing the consumption of substances that can stain your teeth can prolong results by reducing new discoloration.

How much does teeth whitening cost?

Here are some average cost ranges for the three major treatment types:

Treatment Type Average Cost
Professional whitening $800 to $1,0002
Custom whitening trays $300 to $6002
Over-the-counter whitening $5 to $404

However, various factors can impact the cost of each treatment type:

  • Specialization: For in-office and custom tray treatments, working with a specialist may increase costs. For example, a cosmetic dentist may charge more than a general dentist to account for their expertise.

  • Reputation and brand: Higher-end dental clinics may be more in demand, so they could cost more. Similarly, well-known OTC kit brands that are known for getting good results could cost more at the store.

  • Location: Dentists located in areas with higher living costs will increase the price of all treatments to remain profitable. Similarly, stores in these areas may charge more for OTC kits.

  • Maintenance: If you need to schedule follow-up appointments or undergo teeth whitening regularly, you may pay more over time.

Does dental insurance cover teeth whitening?

Dental insurance doesn’t cover teeth whitening because it’s a cosmetic procedure. This type of policy exists to help policyholders cover the costs necessary to maintain good health and fix problems. That includes preventative care, such as routine cleanings, along with fillings, root canals, and other essential treatments.

Get a quote for Aflac dental insurance

Teeth whitening varies widely in cost based on the type of treatment, the dentist’s specialization, and more. Although it’s not covered by insurance, comparing methods can help you find a teeth whitening treatment that fits your budget.

Dental insurance from Aflac can help you cover a wide variety of medically necessary procedures, from routine care to major dental work. Speak with an agent to explore your options and get a quote today.

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