Does Insurance Cover Teeth Whitening?

Updated · Jun 18, 2022

If you’re looking for a way to get your teeth whitened without breaking the bank, you may want to consider at-home methods.

They are much cheaper than going to a dentist, and some of them can be just as effective.

But what if you've tried a few and you're not satisfied?

Does insurance cover teeth whitening? What other options do you have?

Read on for the answers to these and other questions.

Does Dental Insurance Cover Cosmetic Procedures?

Generally, dental insurance does not cover teeth whitening and other cosmetic procedures. This is because they are elective and not a medical necessity.

That said, there are a few exceptions.

For instance, you may get coverage for a cosmetic procedure when:

  • The dentist places crowns or veneers (which are essentially white teeth covers) to restore injured or missing teeth
  • Gum contouring during a periodontal surgery
  • Orthodontia is used to correct the shifting of teeth due to an accident

In addition, there are instances when teeth whitening is covered by insurance. Some providers offer special plans with that benefit.

How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?

The cost of teeth whitening can vary a lot depending on the method.

How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost Without Insurance

Professional teeth whitening by dentists can cost anywhere between $500 and $1,000.

At-home methods are cheaper.

You can buy strips or gel for around $10 to $50. And whitening trays will set you back between $150 and $600.

How Much Is Teeth Whitening at the Dentist With Insurance

When teeth whitening is covered by insurance, the price you have to pay will be significantly lower. That said, the premiums may be more expensive.

Also, note that if your insurance includes cosmetic procedures, premiums won’t be tax deductible.

Plus, dental coverage usually pays for only 50% of the cost of cosmetic procedures.

If you know the price and what portion the insurance company covers, you can calculate how much it is to get your teeth whitened.

For example, if your dentist charges $700 and the insurance company covers 50%, you'll pay $350. But you also have to consider other out-of-pocket costs, like deductibles and copays.

When you take them into account, you might end up paying more.

What Happens During Professional Teeth Whitening at the Dentist?

Professional in-office teeth whitening uses bleaching agents to remove stains and discoloration.

Most whitening products contain carbamide peroxide. This compound breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and urea when in contact with water.

It is a powerful bleaching agent that can remove even the most stubborn stains. The higher the concentration of the compound, the stronger the product.

During in-office teeth whitening, the dentist applies a gel and uses a blue LED light to activate it. This speeds up the breakdown of the carbamide peroxide and allows it to penetrate deeper into the teeth.

Professional products usually contain a higher concentration of carbamide peroxide.

That’s the main reason why dentists achieve better results than you could with at-home methods.

Over-The-Counter Whitening Products

Knowing how much it costs to whiten your teeth at the dentist, you may prefer to find a cheaper alternative.

Luckily, there are various over-the-counter whitening products.

These include dental teeth whitening toothpaste, gel, and strips. These are also kits with trays that mold to your teeth.

These include top and bottom teeth covers. The idea is to fill them with whitening gel and stay with them overnight.

Most of these products rely on abrasives to remove surface stains. Others contain bleaching agents that can penetrate deeper into the enamel.

While the latter is more effective, they may damage the enamel or cause you discomfort.

That’s why it’s a good idea to consult a dentist before whitening your teeth. They may recommend a solution with the right level of strength and sensitivity for you.

Pros and Cons of Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is an effective way to have a bright smile. Generally, the method is very safe.

That said, there are a few potential side effects, or say, discomfort, you may experience.

For starters, dental whitening can cause temporary tooth sensitivity. This is usually mild and goes away within a few days, but it can be uncomfortable.

In addition, whitening is not equally effective for everyone. So, the results you’ll achieve and the time it’ll take may vary.

Finally, patients with existing dental problems, such as decay or gum disease, may experience increased sensitivity or irritation after whitening.

That’s why it’s best to do teeth whitening at the dentist's office.

While specialists can’t control the sensitivity of your teeth, they can choose the right product that will cost minimal discomfort.

Wrap Up

Overall, teeth whitening is a safe and effective way to improve the appearance of your smile. That said, it can be expensive.

In some cases, insurance does cover teeth whitening.

But what if your policy doesn't?

In this article, we presented several alternatives. Choose the best one for your needs.

Overall, home teeth whitening is a good way to maintain your teeth in good shape. It can help you prolong the time between visiting dentists, effectively reducing your expenses while maintain high oral hygiene.

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Aleksandra Yosifova
Aleksandra Yosifova

With an eye for research, Aleksandra is determined to always get to the bottom of things. If there’s a glitch in the system, she’ll find it and make sure you know about it.