Teeth Whitening Cost and Options for a Beautiful Smile

Everybody wants a whiter smile. But in our modern lives, we’re consuming more junk food, soda, and candy than what’s considered healthy. This doesn’t only affect our long-term health, but it can cause tooth discoloration or teeth staining, and nobody wants a yellow smile.

It also causes bad breath, affects your oral health, and lowers your confidence.

Luckily, teeth whitening procedures are common and affordable. You can buy a kit at your local pharmacy or visit your dentist for whiter teeth. It allows you to regain that white, confident smile within a few days.

You can also opt for professional teeth whitening services at your local dentist. Professional teeth whitening worth is based on the individual – how much you want to improve tooth staining and obtain a whiter smile.

How Does Teeth Whitening Work And How Much Does It Cost?

Although it may seem like a complicated procedure, whitening teeth is simple and rarely takes longer than a few minutes.

It contains a bleaching agent that breaks down the stains on your teeth. This makes stains less concentrated which leads to a brighter smile.

There are four teeth whitening options to consider if you want whiter teeth. These include:

  • Stain removal toothpaste
  • Home based whitening
  • In-office whitening with bleaching gel
  • Laser teeth whitening

Whitening Toothpaste

The easiest and cheapest way to whiten your teeth is to buy stain removal toothpaste. You might not get sparkling white teeth after one use, or several uses, but it’s a helpful option if you’re struggling with slight tooth discoloration or teeth staining. 

These are some of the best options for home use. Whitening toothpastes reduce the yellow stains on your teeth and improve overall oral health. 

When looking for whitening toothpastes, look for one that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance. This tells you that it’s proven to reduce teeth discoloration.

A high-quality teeth-whitening toothpaste will set you back around $10 to $20. Some of the best whitening toothpasts include:

  • Colgate Optic White Express
  • Crest 3D White Brilliance Teeth Whitening

Home Teeth Whitening Kits

Teeth whitening kits are another home-based option if you’re suffering from yellow teeth. This is more expensive and effective than whitening toothpaste. 

You’ve seen these products at your grocery store or pharmacy. The basic principle behind why they work is because it contains a bleaching agent that changes the color of your teeth. Different brands use different bleaches, but the two common ones are:

  1. Hydrogen peroxide
  2. Carbamide peroxide.

These kits often come in the form of whitening strips, whitening trays, charcoal pastes, or LED lights. They work much faster than teeth whitening toothpastes and after a few days of use, you’ll see a significant difference.

Typical teeth whitening products that use whitening strips or can cost around $20. But some kits use LED lights to remove stains and these can set you back around $100 to $150. These teeth whitening products use whitening trays to apply the bleaching gel to your teeth and then use a LED light to generate heat which enhances the effect.

Some over the counter whitening procedures use whitening trays. In this case, the trays are made of flexible material and must be molded to your teeth by immersing the whitening trays in hot water. Once the whitening trays are flexible, they can be molded to your teeth.

If you find that teeth whitening strips are your best bet, here are some top-rated options:

  • Crest 3D Whitening Strips
  • Lumineux Oral Essentials

But if you prefer going with the LED light option, opt for best-selling products like:

  • AuraGlow Deluxe Home Teeth Whitening System
  • iSmile Teeth Whitening Kit

In Office Professional Teeth Whitening with Whitening Gel

If you’re looking for immediate results, then going to a dentist to whiten your teeth is your best bet. Also, if your teeth are heavily discolored, then going to the dentist for a professional teeth whitening procedure is your only option.

If you’re scared of going to the dentist, don’t worry. This is a safe and painless procedure, and it doesn’t take longer than a few minutes.

But before you make an appointment to get your teeth whitened, you’ll need to get prepared. First, get your teeth professionally cleaned by a dentist. This is because the whitening gel cannot penetrate excess plaque on the surface of your teeth. Your dentist will polish your teeth after cleaning them and this removes some of the yellow stains.

This also provides another benefit. If you have more serious oral problems like gum inflammation, cavities, and leaking fillings, then they’ll sort that out first. Remember, white teeth don’t equal good oral hygiene.

Once you’ve taken care of that, here’s what to expect when getting your teeth whitened by a dentist:

  • First, they’ll take a shade of your teeth and compare the end result with this shade. Shades are determined using a shade guide.
Teeth Whitening Shade Guide
  • Next, your dentist will polish your teeth with pumice.
  • Next, they’ll then place a cheek retractor on your mouth and apply a hardening resin over your gums to protect them from the bleaching agent.
  • Last, they’ll apply the bleaching agent to your teeth.

This process shouldn’t take longer than 15 to 20 minutes. Professional whitening treatments are expensive since it can start around $500 and go up to $1000.

In some cases, your dentist will provide teeth whitening trays for follow-up treatments at home. The dentist can sometimes create custom trays right in the dentist’s office, so you can have them right away. In other cases, you may need to visit your dentist before the whitening procedure so the custom trays will be ready. Whitening procedures with custom trays are great because the tray fits your mouth perfectly.

Laser Teeth Whitening

Laser Teeth Whitening is a fast and effective alternative to a traditional whitening treatment. It offers superior results when compared to other at home or in office treatments and is safe and easy to administer.

With laser teeth whitening treatment, the laser activates the bleaching gel and facilitates the teeth whitening process. Laser whitening also helps to remove surface stains and brighten the overall color of your teeth. This teeth whitening treatment can only be performed at your dentist’s office.

Using a laser is different than using a light to produce heat. Heat simply allows the whitening gel to work faster.

Depending on where you live, the cost of professional teeth whitening with a laser can vary from $400 to $1,000.

Does Insurance Cover Teeth Whitening?

While insurance companies do cover cleanings and fillings, they don’t cover the cost of teeth whitening procedures. 

This is because they only cover procedures that improve your health. Teeth whitening does little to improve your oral health and that’s why it’s considered a cosmetic procedure.

If you’re worried about dishing out a lot of money for teeth whitening, don’t fear. Unless your teeth are heavily discolored, you don’t need to go to the dentist to have them whiten. A $50 home kit will do.

Even if your teeth are heavily discolored, you’ll only need one set of appointments and that’ll last for a few years if you’re eating right. 

If you can’t afford professional teeth whitening or any other teeth whitening method, opt for basic cleaning. You’ll be surprised at how much of your teeth’s discoloration is due to plaque build-up and not staining.

Before And After Pictures

If you’re using teeth whitening toothpaste, here are the results you can expect after a few weeks of use.

Teeth Whitening Before and After

If you’ve decided to go with a teeth-whitening kit that is far more effective, here are the results you can expect to see after a couple of uses.

Last, if your teeth are heavily discolored, a professional teeth whitening procedure is your best bet. Here’s a picture of the difference in shades.

Teeth Whitening Treatment Before and After

Side Effects of Whitening Teeth

As with almost everything, there are side effects of teeth whitening methods. These include:

Tooth sensitivity

Sensitive teeth are the most common side effect of teeth whitening methods and is due to the bleaching agent. Sometimes the bleaching agent can result in the teeth becoming temporarily porous and exposing micro tubules contained in the teeth. This is because the bleaching agent can remove minerals contained in the enamel.

Tooth sensitivity is typically temporary, so avoiding super hot or cold drinks after the treatment will help.

Gum Inflammation or Bleeding

A Laser whitening procedure can cause gum irritation for about a day or two after the treatment if you don’t follow instructions and leave the treatment too long. The gums will become sensitive and may bleed, which is normal for whitening products and whitening agents. 

Gingival inflammation is when the gums become inflamed as the result of contact with the peroxide based products used to whiten the teeth.


In rare cases, you can get cold sores or blisters around your mouth and nose, similar to cold sores caused by sun exposure. These are the result of possible lesions in the mouth before the whitening procedure or the result of hot liquids, smoking, or spicy foods within 24 hours following the treatment.

Blisters typically only last a few days.  

Cavities or Teeth with Decay

Cavities or decaying teeth do not perform well with teeth whitening treatment. Professional whitening treatment or even over the counter can irritate and exacerbate the condition. It is best to have healthy teeth and to resolve any issues before any teeth whitening treatments.

Call your dentist’s office or in office teeth whitening specialist if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Painful swelling
  • Soreness that lasts longer than a few hours after treatment   
  • Cold sores or blisters that last more than a few days 

How Long Does Teeth Whitening Last?

Several factors determine how long your teeth whiting will last. Some include;

  • Diet
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol

Diet has the biggest impact on your teeth’ color. If you’re eating candy, junk food, and drinking soda all day, you can expect your teeth to go back to normal in no time. These processed foods can also cause cavities. Avoid processed foods and stick to real food like vegetables, healthy meats, fish, and fruits.

Next, if you’re smoking, stop immediately. You probably already know the health risks of smoking cigarettes and don’t need me preaching to you. But try your best to quit smoking and your teeth will thank you.

Lastly, alcohol has a big impact on the color of your teeth. Also, not all alcohol is equal. Some drinks like red wine are high in tannins which are notorious for their teeth’ yellowing properties. Instead, opt for gin. It’s the drink with the least acidity and doesn’t contain any sugar.

What Teeth Cannot Be Whitened?

Understand that maximum whiteness that can be obtained varies depending on the individual. Final results are determined by the natural tooth color of each person. No two teeth have exactly the same natural color.

Porcelain and most cosmetic bonding materials will not respond to traditional teeth whitening treatments. This includes dentures, porcelain veneers, crowns, or dental implants.

Final Word on Teeth Whitening Cost

Teeth discoloration is a problem that we all have to deal with. It is annoying and affects your confidence. But by whitening your teeth and avoiding processed foods, you reduce the number of stains on your teeth.

Teeth whitening treatments do not have to be costly. How much does teeth whitening cost overall? The cost of teeth whitening can be broken down as follows:


Oral Health Topics – Whitening. American Dental Association. Retrieved 7/25/2021 from https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/whitening

Friedman, Michael DDS. 10/9/2019. Teeth Whitening. WebMD. Retrieved 7/25/2021 from https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/teeth-whitening

Harrar, Sari. 11/10/2016. Tooth Whitening at Home. Retrieved 7/25/2021 from https://www.consumerreports.org/beauty-personal-care/tooth-whitening-at-home/

Dr. Inserto, DMD. Teeth Whitening: How To Whiten Teeth Naturally And Professionally. Jordy Christo, 2014.

Greenwall, Linda, BDS, MGDS RCS, MSc, MRD RCS, FFGDP (UK), Prosthodontist and Specialist in Restorative Dentistry. Tooth Whitening Techniques, Second Edition. CRC Press, 2017.

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