Teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure. this means that it is an elective procedure, rather than something necessary for the person’s health. Unfortunately, most insurance, including dental insurance, does not cover cosmetic dentistry.
Lack of insurance coverage doesn’t have to rule out whiter teeth. There are things you can do to lower the cost of teeth whitening.
avoid stains in the first place
Good oral hygiene minimizes staining, but sometimes tooth staining is unavoidable. dentists classify discoloration into two types, intrinsic and extrinsic. intrinsic stains are part of the tooth structure and whitening will not resolve them. intrinsic stains result from heredity and aging. They can also be caused by too much fluoride in your drinking water (which shows up as white spots on your teeth) or a high fever during a crucial time when tooth enamel is forming. these intrinsic stains are part of the tooth and little can be done to remove them.
Extrinsic stains are food, drink or tobacco stains. for example, coffee and tobacco stain teeth brown. Stains can also be caused by bacteria from poor oral hygiene. The good news about extrinsic stains is that people can prevent them through good oral hygiene, and they can usually be removed.
There are two main groups of stain removal products. At-home products are over-the-counter remedies that range from the cheapest (teeth whitening toothpaste, rinses, gel strips) to the most expensive (at-home whitening kits). dentists can also whiten stained teeth. your options tend to be more expensive, but achieve longer-lasting results in less time.
free sale products
While saving for superior whitening treatments offered by a dentist, many people try at-home whitening products. people should consult a dentist before trying any home whitening product. this is especially true for patients with sensitive teeth or dental restorations including fillings or crowns, dental bridges or implants. they will be able to advise you on which products may work best without damaging existing dental work.
OTC whitening products include:
- toothpaste. use whitening chemicals and abrasive particles to clean and whiten teeth.
- mouthwash. Swishing with a whitening rinse or mouthwash can help lighten stains.
- gels and whitening strips. Gels are applied directly to the teeth, usually twice a day for up to two weeks. prices typically range from $10 to $50.
- The dentist begins with a color measurement. this allows patients to see how stained their teeth currently are and how much brighter they will be after the procedure. this provides a reference point for the process.
- then the dentist polishes the teeth with a pumice stone.
- then places a cheek retractor to expose the teeth to the whitening gel.
- The dentist then covers the patient’s eyes, gums, and lips to protect these areas of the face from the whitening gel.
- he or she then paints resin over the gums, exposing only the teeth to be whitened.
- Finally, the fast-acting gel is applied to the teeth.
- Dentists repeat this procedure for a total of three 15-20 minute whitening sessions.
- Dentists can also use ultraviolet light to activate the gel. this helps achieve a stronger bond and makes the gel more effective.
- Final whiteness will be achieved 2-6 weeks after the procedure is completed.
- Sometimes a professional cleaning is all it takes to whiten teeth, and patients should start here.
- find a local dental school. They may offer whitening procedures for less so students can hone their skills.
- ask if the dentist offers financing for whitening and other procedures. many are happy to do so.
- Find out if the dentist ever offers any coupons or specials on teeth whitening. some offer group discounts for major events (like a wedding). they might be happy to offer a group rate for your entire bridal party!
Most household products contain 10-20% peroxide, which is the chemical agent that whitens teeth. these provide short-term benefits and end results vary from brand to brand. dentists use professional strength products with higher concentrations of peroxide that whiten better and last longer.
home whitening kits
Home whitening kits present another popular option. these are whitening agents in a tray that molds to an individual’s teeth. these generally require a longer application time each day than other DIY options. kits include two trays for upper and lower teeth. many require overnight use.
As with any of these over-the-counter whitening products, these whitening kits should be used as directed, as overuse can damage teeth. home kits typically cost between $40 and $100.
Some dentists offer professional home kits that can cost up to $400. professional home kits use a mouthpiece tailored to each individual’s mouth and contain higher concentrations of peroxide than over-the-counter kits.
at the dentist
Whitening options are also available at the dentist’s office. these cost more because they work faster and last longer. Teeth whitening procedures cost an average of $650, but many feel the results are worth the price. procedures typically last 60-90 minutes and patients may need more than one treatment. Dentists use stronger peroxide solutions so teeth stay white for 6 months to 3 years with proper oral hygiene.
Professional in-office whitening follows a standard procedure to ensure a long-lasting glow:
Dentists usually accomplish all of this in a single visit, although they can also prescribe at-home whitening trays. Each patient’s situation is slightly different, so this basic procedure may vary and additional visits may be necessary to achieve the desired whiteness of the teeth.
veneers or union
Finally, there are other options for intrinsic stains or stubborn extrinsic stains. dental veneers and bonding are the most expensive options. They’re also not covered by dental insurance, but they will restore a brighter smile.
Dental veneers are thin sheets that are applied directly to stained teeth and match the natural color of the tooth. They are usually made of porcelain or resin that is bonded directly to patients’ teeth. They are also a good option to consider for chipped teeth or smaller than average teeth. the fewer veneers, the lower the cost. Veneers generally cost between $925 and $2,500 per tooth. a complete set of veneers typically costs between $10,000 and $40,000. Veneers cost more than any of the whitening options, but they generally last 10 to 15 years.
Dental bonding is another cosmetic option, usually used to repair chipped or broken teeth. In the process, it can also make your teeth look whiter. It generally costs $300-$600 per tooth and is a good option for minor repairs.
If a patient’s teeth have blemishes as well as discoloration, either of these dental procedures can fix both problems at once.
teeth whitening for less
Whether patients use over-the-counter whiteners or visit a dentist, whitening can be a great investment. Since the process is not covered by insurance, it’s helpful to know that there are a few ways to lower the cost:
Dentists are happy to work with patients to brighten their smiles without breaking the bank.
are you thinking about whiter teeth?
Unfortunately, teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure that is not typically covered by insurance. That doesn’t mean you can’t get it, but you may need to save up or try less expensive options, as long as they’re safe.
In the meantime, the best place to start is to talk to your dentist. they can tell you what kind of spots she has and, assuming they can be lightened, which one will work best.
If you’re ready to talk to a dentist about a brighter smile, make an appointment today!