Dental procedures can be pretty expensive. If you’ve been considering teeth whitening, it might disappoint you to know that insurance does not usually cover teeth whitening.
Even if you have dental insurance, you will most likely have to pay for teeth whitening procedures yourself.
Fortunately, there are some other options available that won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Read on to learn everything you need to know about teeth whitening and dental insurance.
Why Does Insurance Not Cover Teeth Whitening?
Dental insurance typically only covers procedures that are absolutely necessary for oral health, like dental diseases. They do not cover cosmetic procedures which are meant for improving the appearance of the teeth.
Even though having a great smile and whiter teeth is a big concern for most people, insurance does not cover teeth whitening as it is a cosmetic procedure.
All cosmetic procedures like veneers, tooth shaping, gum contouring, etc., that are only for improving the appearance of your teeth and do not serve a medical purpose are not covered by insurance.
What Does Dental Insurance Cover?
On average, dental insurance has a yearly maximum of $1,500. It covers procedures related to health concerns, which are divided into three categories called 100-80-50.
All procedures that prevent dental diseases such as yearly cleaning, sealants and X-rays are covered 100%.
More minor procedures like fillings, extractions, etc., are 80% covered by dental insurance and the rest has to be paid by the patient.
Major dental treatments like inlays, dentures, bridges and crowns are covered 50%. Root canals might be covered 80% or 50%, depending on the kind of plan you have.
Usually, dental insurance plans focus heavily on preventative care and don’t cover many major procedures.
What Options Do I Have?
If your insurance doesn’t cover teeth whitening, it doesn’t mean you have to give up your dream of having a brighter smile. There are many other low-budget options you can consider for teeth whitening.
Preventing discoloration in the first place is the best way to maintain the appearance of your teeth. Discoloration is mainly of 2 kinds: extrinsic and intrinsic.
You cannot do anything about intrinsic stains as they are a part of the structure of the teeth. They are caused by various factors and cannot be remedied by any procedure, including whitening.
Extrinsic discoloration is caused by food or drinks or inadequate oral hygiene. Avoiding tobacco or drinks containing caffeine and maintaining good dental hygiene can help prevent discoloration.
Use Over-the-Counter Products
There are several over-the-counter products that can brighten your teeth to a certain extent.
However, you should use them only after consulting your dentist as they might not be suitable for sensitive teeth or for people who have previously undergone dental treatments.
You can use toothpastes, gels, mouthwashes, or teeth whitening strips to whiten your teeth at home. These products use peroxide to temporarily whiten teeth, and the results vary depending on the product you use.
You can also purchase teeth whitening kits. They cost $35 to $350 and have a tray with a bleaching agent that molds to your teeth.
They need a lot more time than gels or strips. But you should follow the instructions very carefully as leaving them on for too long will damage your teeth.
Some dentists offer at-home teeth whitening kits tailored to your mouth. These kits are more effective as they have more peroxide than over-the-counter kits, but they also cost more.
Dentist treatments are the most effective for whitening your teeth, but they also cost more than all the other options.
Dentists use a gel to whiten the teeth, which may be accompanied by a UV light treatment to increase the gel’s effectiveness. This procedure is repeated three times, and the final results start showing up 2 to 6 weeks after the treatment.
The procedure takes 60 to 90 minutes, and the effects will last for a long time.
How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?
The cost of getting your teeth whitened by a dentist is $650 on average, whereas custom trays cost around $400 and over-the-counter teeth whitening products are usually under $100.
Your location and the dentist’s pricing structure can affect the price of professional teeth whitening. Some dentists offer payment plans as dental procedures often cost a lot.
Teeth whitening can be very expensive, and it is unfortunately not covered by insurance. However, there are several low-cost alternatives you can consider.
They are not as effective as a professional treatment, but you can certainly use them after consulting your dentist to make sure they are safe for you.