Avoiding cavities and gum disease is the first order of business when it comes to your oral health. The next step is making sure they look pearly white and shiny.
While certain foods and drinks will inevitably stain your teeth, there are ways you can fight back against tooth discoloration to improve the appearance of your teeth. Whitening is one of the easiest and most effective ones.
Let’s take a look at how teeth whitening works and what you can expect to pay for this cosmetic procedure, both with and without insurance.
What Is Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening is an effective way to lighten the color of your natural teeth without removing any of the tooth’s surface like you would with veneers. It won’t completely change the color of your teeth, but it can definitely lighten the existing shade.
This is done through a process called tooth bleaching, which involves using chemicals to change the shade of the outer layer of your tooth, called the enamel.
The natural ivory color of your teeth can be affected by all sorts of things, mainly the foods and drinks you consume.
Coffee and wine are the main culprits of tooth stains, but other causes include:
- Tobacco use
- Use of antibiotics
- High levels of fluoride during tooth development
- Natural enamel corrosion with age
- Corrosion from silver fillings
Types of Teeth Whitening
There are many different ways to get your teeth whitened, but the three most common are chairside bleaching, at-home prescribed bleaching, and over-the-counter bleaching.
Chairside Teeth Whitening
This is the most effective and safe method for whitening because it takes place within a dentist’s office under the care and practice of a professional. Here, a dentist will place a hydrogen peroxide solution over the teeth.
The stains on your teeth occur because of dark pigmentation from the food or drink that caused it. Hydrogen peroxide creates a chemical reaction with these pigments that neutralizes the color and makes the tooth’s shade appear whiter. After the peroxide is placed on the teeth, a light is usually used to speed up this chemical reaction.
It usually takes a few visits for chairside bleaching to get your teeth to the exact color that you want, though newer methods can allow you to get visibly whiter teeth in just one visit. Either way, this is a temporary procedure, and your teeth will darken again within one to three years.
Dentist Prescribed Home Bleaching
Since it can take time for whitening to work its magic, another option is to do it from the comfort of your own home. A dentist can prescribe a custom-filled mouthpiece with bleaching chemicals to do right at home.
You’ll just place the mouthpiece into your mouth and hold it in there for the recommended period of time every day for about a week or two. While this might be a bit more time-consuming, you don’t need to worry about going to a dentist for multiple sessions.
You can get whitening products from your local drugstore. While these are considered effective, they are usually not nearly as effective as prescribed treatments because they contain a lower concentration of active ingredients.
Whitening kits work on the same principle as dentist-prescribed whitening kits, but you can also get whitening toothpastes and gels. These will not work as quickly or effectively as procedures within a dentist's office, but they are typically a little bit more cost-effective.
Is Teeth Whitening Safe?
Teeth bleaching has been around for decades, and the American Dental Association has said that hydrogen peroxide whiteners are safe and effective for whitening your teeth. When using whitening products over the counter, just be sure to look for that ADA seal of approval.
With that said, many people experience increased tooth sensitivity to hot and cold sensations after starting a whitening regimen. This is usually temporary, but if you experience prolonged sensitivity, let your dental provider know.
What Is the Cost of Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure, meaning it only serves to improve the appearance of your smile. Since it does not cure or prevent a disease, dental insurance companies will not cover the cost of whitening treatments.
This means you’ll be stuck paying out of pocket for your procedure. On average, teeth whitening in-office can cost anywhere from $100 to $500 per session.
Since it often takes many sessions, this can rack up a high price. At-home bleaching tends to be less expensive at around $200 to $600 for the entire treatment, but the results are usually less noticeable.
You shouldn’t need to let price be a barrier between you and the dental care you want. Flossy is here to shatter the statistics of expensive dental care so that you finally have access to the services you’ve been wanting.
We’re a pay-as-you-go service where you only pay for the services you receive. This means that the price you see is the price you pay — no hidden fees, membership dues, or annual premiums. Not to mention, we can help you save up to 50% on common dental treatments so that you’re saving money compared to traditional insurance regardless.
Our dentists are also vetted against a set of rigorous criteria, so you can rest assured that you’re getting quality whitening from all angles. All dentists in our network must have accreditation from top dental schools, excellent patient reviews, and more.
There’s no waiting period, so you can sign up and book your appointment right away. It’s time to get started on the best version of your smile yet.
Other Ways To Whiten Your Teeth
Even after your whitening treatment, you still need to make some efforts to prevent future staining and correct any problems down the road. This allows your procedure to last even longer.
Here are some ways to naturally whiten your teeth:
One of the most common at-home treatments for whitening is using baking soda. Combine just enough water with a teaspoon of baking soda to make a paste, and then use a soft-bristled brush to sweep the teeth.
Baking soda is a mild abrasive that can scrub away surface stains while also preventing harmful bacteria growth in the mouth. Just note that brushing with baking soda can taste unpleasant, so we recommend doing it before brushing your teeth with fresh, minty toothpaste.
Oil pulling is a traditional remedy that has been around for centuries, and the idea is that swishing oil in your mouth can remove bacteria that would otherwise turn into yellowish and brownish plaque.
Coconut oil is a popular choice because it tastes the best, but you can use any type of vegetable oil. Just place some in your mouth and switch around for about 15-20 minutes. That’s a long time, but it will be worth it when your smile is pearly white at the end.
When you spit out your oil, be sure to do it in a trash can — doing it in the sink can clog your pipes.
Teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure to enhance the appearance of your smile. Bleaching can be done at the dentist’s office or at home, and it works by neutralizing the stains on your enamel to lighten your natural teeth.
Since whitening is cosmetic, insurance companies will not cover the cost. And since out-of-pocket whitening costs can vary upwards of hundreds of dollars per treatment, it’s hard to gain access to this procedure to boost your confidence and well-being.
At Flossy, we offer a pay-as-you-go service that can save you up to 50% on some dental treatments, including whitening. There’s no waiting period, so find a dentist in your area today and start on your journey toward a brighter smile right away.