How much does teeth whitening cost in the US? Well, it can be anywhere from $20 to $1,800 – or even more. But that answer doesn't help much if you're trying to work out whether or not you can afford to get the brighter smile you really want.
So, in this article we're going to dig deeper into US teeth whitening costs for various procedures including:
- Laser teeth whitening at the dentist
- LED whitening (e.g., Philips Zoom)
- Professional bleaching kits
- At-home whitening kits
- Treatments combining in-office and at-home whitening (e.g., Smile Brilliant)
We'll also explain the pros and cons of each of these so you can decide what's going to be right for you.
Table of contents
- 1 Types of teeth whitening
- 1.1 Professional teeth whitening costs
- 1.2 Take-home custom bleaching trays
- 1.3 At-home whitening kits
- 1.4 Other whitening products
- 1.5 Summary of teeth whitening costs
- 2 Teeth whitening cost with insurance
- 3 In-office vs. over-the-counter whitening products
- 4 How to keep your teeth white
- 5 How much does teeth whitening cost near me?
- 6 Conclusion
- 7 FAQs
Types of teeth whitening
We won't go into too much detail about the different options here because we have a separate teeth whitening guide that gives a more in-depth look at the different ways to whiten your teeth.
But if you want to understand what teeth whitening costs, you first need to know which procedures are available. All whitening treatments can be broken down into two categories: those that involve a dentist, and those that don't.
Let's look first at the options for getting your teeth whitened professionally.
Professional teeth whitening costs
The most expensive procedure, but also the one that gives the fastest results, involves you sitting in the dentist's office for around an hour. Your teeth are coated with a strong bleaching gel, usually containing hydrogen peroxide, and a laser or LED light shines on them to accelerate the bleaching process.
Here's a quick look at what to expect as a Zoom whitening patient:
It's possible to get your teeth 2-8 shades whiter in just one session. The procedure is supervised by a trained dentist, and they apply a gum shield to protect your gums from the strong gel, so it is considered very safe. However, there is some likelihood of sensitivity from such an intense treatment.
How much does laser teeth whitening cost?
Laser teeth whitening treatment at the dentist, including Zoom teeth whitening, costs between $300 and $1,800, depending on the system used and the number of sessions required.
Take-home custom bleaching trays
This treatment is administered by a dental professional in-office, but the whitening process itself takes place at home.
The first step is to have custom trays made to precisely fit your mouth. Then, your dentist will provide you with bleaching gel—again, containing peroxide—and will show you how to use it correctly and safely. Treatment takes around two weeks, over which time you should notice a considerable difference in the color of your teeth. You wear the trays for 2-6 hours per day, according to your dentist's instructions.
What does take-home teeth whitening cost?
Take-home kits for teeth whitening cost around $200–400 from dentists in the US. They are a safe way for patients to get brighter, whiter teeth from home.
At-home whitening kits
So, what about teeth whitening treatment that is not supervised by a dentist? Home teeth whitening kits are widely available over-the-counter in pharmacies and online. They usually contain whitening gel, a mouth tray, and sometimes an LED activating light.
What do at-home whitening kits cost?
If you look online, you'll find these products costing anywhere from $20 to $300 or more. We recommend choosing one that is made in the USA or Europe, where manufacturing standards are high and cosmetic products are closely regulated.
- Smile Brilliant's teeth whitening gel is the same strength that dentists use
- The desensitizing gel can prevent sensitivity
- The labs that make your Smile Brilliant trays are the same that dentists use
- You can save hundreds of dollars for the same treatment
- Whitening trays are custom-made in a US dental lab
In essence, it's the exact same treatment, with custom trays and professional-strength gel, that you would get at the dentist, but you can do it from home and it's much more affordable.
Other whitening products
Snow teeth whitening is one of the more popular brands of at-home whitening kits. It works with a blue and red LED light and takes just 9 minutes per day. Snow is a good choice for people with sensitive teeth because the brush-on applicator makes it easier to avoid getting the whitening gel on your gums.
Read our full Snow review to find out more. Check their website for current promotions!
Snow also makes whitening strips, called The Magic Strips. These strips are small and barely visible, and they dissolve on your teeth in around 10 minutes.
When they dissolve, they don't leave behind a gooey mess, like other dissolvable strips. They also have a refreshing lavender mint flavor.
Each pack of The Magic Strips comes with 28 treatments, at just $1.75/treatment. 90% of users report a whiter smile after just one use, and these strips are gentle on enamel and designed for sensitive teeth.
Summary of teeth whitening costs
So, how much does teeth whitening cost in the US? This table summarizes the prices mentioned above:
$400 - $1,800
LED whitening (e.g. Philips Zoom)
$300 - $1,000
Take-home bleaching trays
$200 - $750
Custom trays, takes around 2 weeks
Combined professional whitening (e.g. Smile Brilliant)
$100 - $200
Professional and at-home treatment
$15 - $400
Results may vary; some safety concerns
Teeth whitening cost with insurance
Most insurance policies don't cover any kind of elective cosmetic dentistry such as professional tooth whitening.
Some dental payment plans, arranged directly with a local dentist or a chain of clinics, offer a fixed percentage discount off all treatments including cosmetic whitening. It's probably not worth starting a payment plan for this saving alone, but it could be a bonus if you already have this kind of plan in place. Your dentist might also agree to let you pay in installments.
Other dental financing options are available, including dental loans. However, you should carefully consider whether it's worth taking on debt for cosmetic dental work.
In-office vs. over-the-counter whitening products
When choosing a teeth whitening procedure, cost is not the only consideration. Here are some other important factors that may influence your decision, some of which we already touched on above:
- How long the treatment takes
- How quickly teeth become brighter
- Whether it causes any sensitivity
- Whether the procedure is safe
- What the risks are
- How long the results will last
Generally speaking, the stronger the concentration of peroxide used in the bleaching gel, and the more intense the procedure, the greater the likelihood of sensitivity.
That said, dentistry manufacturers are working all the time to develop new technologies and ingredients that deliver better results with less discomfort.
One benefit of visiting a dental practice, whether for an in-office procedure or take-home trays, is that you can contact your dentist at any time if you have concerns about tooth pain or sensitivity. You don't get the same level of care from buying a product online.
How to keep your teeth white
With teeth whitening prices so high, you'll want to do what you can to prolong your results. Brushing and flossing daily will help a lot, and you may want to use a teeth whitening toothpaste to keep surface stains away.
You can also try to avoid some foods and drinks that are known to stain teeth, such as:
- Tea (including green tea)
- Red wine
- Tomato sauces
Our article about yellow teeth causes and treatments goes into more detail about these and other culprits.
But over time, no matter how careful you are, stains will reappear and you might find yourself wanting to get your teeth whitened again.
In this case, you may be able to purchase ‘top-up' whitening gel refills to use with the tray you already purchased, whether via a dental practice or as part of an over-the-counter kit. If you were happy with your results the first time around, you can simply repeat the treatment periodically.
You may not need to do it for as long each time because some of the original whitening effects should still be present.
Of course, you can also return to your dentist for another chairside whitening session, but it's advised to limit this procedure to once a year to avoid damaging your teeth.
How much does teeth whitening cost near me?
If you'd like to talk to a dentist near you about the cost to whiten teeth, you can call 800-794-7437. You'll be connected to a dentist in your area who offers professional teeth whitening services and can tell you what the in-office teeth whitening cost is at their practice.
You probably already knew that the cost of teeth whitening treatment in the US varies greatly, but now you have a better understanding of what you're getting for your money.
Ultimately, you'll have to choose the procedure that's right for you depending on your budget, how white you want your teeth to become, and how quickly you want to achieve that shade.
If you have never whitened your teeth before and you are concerned about sensitivity or ending up with unnaturally white teeth, you'll probably be best with a home kit that whitens teeth gradually. Smile Brilliant is one that we recommend for its custom-made trays and dental-grade whitening gel.
You also may want to consider veneers or other cosmetic dentistry if you want to truly transform your smile.
In any case, it's best to have a dental consultation before beginning whitening treatment because there is a greater risk of pain and sensitivity if your teeth and gums are not in good shape.
How much does it cost to whiten your teeth at home?
This depends on how white you want your teeth to be. If you choose a cheap teeth whitening kit, you can achieve some degree of whitening for around $20. A professional whitening kit will give stronger results for around $50–$300.
For the strongest whitening gel, you'll need to visit a dentist and get a take-home kit, which will cost upwards of $300.
How much does professional teeth whitening cost?
In-office teeth whitening costs $300–$1,800, while a take-home kit prescribed by dental professional costs from $200–$400 on average. Both are proven ways to get whiter teeth. That said, laser whitening usually shows the most significant difference.
What does the cheapest teeth whitening treatment cost?
You can buy a whitening toothpaste for a few dollars. It might remove some surface stains, but it won't make too much difference to the natural color of your teeth. So, it's unlikely to give you that brighter, whiter smile you desire.
Over-the-counter treatments like whitening kits will give better results and are probably a good place to start if the cost of whitening your teeth at the dentist seems too high.
NCBI: Comparison of laser and power bleaching techniques in tooth color change. Consulted 9th June 2021.