How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?
Your Ultimate Guide

The increasing demand for teeth-whitening services inevitably will lead to a corresponding rise in prices. As more people seek these services, the costs may also start to increase.

Right now, professional or in-office teeth whitening in the US can be anywhere from $300 to $1800. On the other hand, a take-home teeth whitening kit prescribed by a dentist can cost from $300 to $500. 

But these numbers may not give you the complete picture because various factors affect teeth whitening costs.

So, to help you figure things out, we’re offering this comprehensive guide.

This article provides a clear perspective on teeth whitening costs and the factors influencing them.

We'll cover everything, from in-office professional treatments to DIY methods and everything in between, to give you a deep understanding of teeth whitening options and their costs.


Common teeth whitening options

In a nutshell, teeth whitening procedures can be categorized into two: in-office and at-home (DIY) teeth whitening.

Each teeth whitening method is carried out differently and may vary in cost and effectiveness. If you're on a budget, choosing at-home options and over-the-counter products is tempting.

However, it's essential to consider that professional treatments such as zoom whitening and in-office laser teeth whitening provide lasting and more noticeable results.

Let’s dive deeper on this matter to know which option would suit your needs.

In-office teeth whitening

Professional teeth whitening procedures require visiting a dentist or dental hygienist at their dental office. These treatments are highly effective and offer faster results compared to at-home options.

During an in-office teeth whitening session, the dentist applies a high-concentration bleaching gel to the teeth, activated using a specialized light (Zoom whitening) or laser.

The procedure usually takes around 60 to 90 minutes, and the dentist may apply multiple gel applications during the session to achieve the desired level of whiteness. In-office teeth whitening is considered safe and can lighten the teeth two to eight shades in just one visit.

In-office or professional teeth whitening procedures are generally more effective than at-home methods for several reasons:

Uses professional-grade bleaching agents

Professional teeth whitening uses stronger and more concentrated bleaching agents only available to licensed dental professionals.

Typically, a dental professional applies a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide (35-40%) for 15–20-minute intervals during a 45–60-minute session.

Focuses on customized whitening treatment

Dentists can tailor the teeth whitening treatment to suit the patient's needs. They can apply the bleaching agent precisely to avoid sensitive areas and ensure even coverage, maximizing the results.

Conducted in a controlled environment

Since an in-office whitening procedure is conducted in a controlled environment, your dentist minimizes the risk of errors and complications.

Dental professionals also have the expertise to protect your gums and soft tissues from potential harm during whitening. Professional supervision reduces the risk of overusing the bleaching agents or causing sensitivity issues.

While professional teeth whitening procedures offer significant advantages, it’s more expensive than at-home options.

For instance, an out-of-pocket cost for Zoom teeth whitening is around $300 to $500, depending on your location, dentist's office, and the number of sessions required.

Based on Delta Dental’s cost estimator, in-office teeth bleaching in Culver City, California, can cost around $596 - $900.

Take-home custom bleaching trays

Take-home custom bleaching trays are meant to hold bleaching gel, which you apply at home for whitening. However, your teeth whitening treatment begins at a dental office with your dentist designing personalized trays that will precisely fit your mouth.

A dental professional in-office administers this treatment, but the whitening process occurs at home.

The bleaching gels provided by your dentist generally contain carbamide peroxide, ranging from 10% to 35%. This concentration is equivalent to approximately 3% to 12% hydrogen peroxide.

The teeth whitening treatment typically lasts about two weeks. During this period, you'll wear the custom trays for 2-6 hours each day as directed by your dentist.

Getting custom trays can range from $300 to $500.

It’s a simple and cost-effective process. By the end of your teeth whitening treatment, you can expect to see a noticeable enhancement in the color of your teeth, resulting in a vibrant and brighter smile.

How effective are custom trays?

Researchers conducted a 14-day parallel, double-blind clinical trial to compare how well a 9% hydrogen peroxide gel (Colgate Visible White) whitens teeth, with a 20% carbamide peroxide gel (Opalescence) used as a positive control.

Based on the trial's conclusion, 9% hydrogen peroxide and 20% carbamide peroxide products effectively whitened teeth after 5, 7, and 14 days of once-a-day thirty-minute applications.

Colgate Visible White (9% hydrogen peroxide) produced a statistically significant tooth shade improvement compared to the tooth whitening effect of Opalescence (20% carbamide peroxide) after five days of product use. Colgate Visible and Opalescence had a similar whitening effect after 7 and 14 days of use.

At-home whitening kits

You can buy and use over-the-counter or ADA-approved whitening kits designed for home use to improve your smile without a dental visit.

These kits typically include custom-made or one-size-fits-all trays, whitening gel, and sometimes LED lights to accelerate the whitening process.

The whitening process works by filling trays with whitening gel and wearing them for a specified period, usually, once a day for a certain number of days, as indicated in the kit's instructions.

Like any whitening gel, the one included in the kit contains 10% (or less) hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which helps to break down stains and discoloration on the teeth.

Popular brands for at-home teeth whitening kits include:

  • Opalescence Go ($87)
  • AuraGlow ($49)
  • SmileDirectClub ($67)
  • iSmile Teeth ($30)
  • Cali White ($29)
  • Colgate Optic White ($50)
  • PurelyWhite Deluxe Teeth Whitening Kit ($50)

Other at-home teeth whitening products also include:

  • Whitening pens and gels
  • Whitening toothpaste
  • Whitening strips

At-home whitening kits and products offer a more affordable and convenient alternative to in-office treatments, allowing individuals to achieve teeth whitening results on their own schedule.

However, it's essential to follow the instructions carefully and consult a dentist if any concerns arise.

Indicated below is the summary of all the data you need to know about the different types of whitening treatments, including estimated cost, peroxide level, treatment duration, and process.


Why does teeth whitening cost so much?

The increased cost of professional teeth whitening procedures can be attributed to factors like dental supervision, more potent whitening agents, and the quicker attainment of results.

However, these are only some factors to consider when determining teeth whitening costs. It's essential to take note of the following to get an idea of how much you might pay for your teeth whitening treatment:

Not all teeth are the same

In our clinic at United Dental Care, we’ve experienced that some people with a bit of yellowing might only need one or two whitening sessions. But others with severely stained teeth could need more sessions to get their desired look.

In other words, everyone's teeth are different, and how much they're discolored varies. So, how much your teeth need whitening determines how complicated and expensive the process will be.

Costs differ from one region to another

Urban centers and affluent areas generally have higher teeth whitening costs than rural or less affluent regions. Since the cost of living and average income levels can vary significantly from one region to another, it leads to differences in pricing for dental procedures.

To support this claim, we did our homework to determine the estimated cost ranges for a professional whitening procedure such as in-office teeth bleaching.

We used the top three states in the US with the highest/lowest cost of living index as samples. After that, we ran our data through Delta Dental’s Dental Care Cost Estimator tool.

Here are the results:


The data provides insights into how economic factors, like the cost of living, can influence dental procedure costs across different states.


The Dental Care Cost Estimator approximates dental procedure costs but can't guarantee precise fees, coverage from your insurance plan, or personal expenses. These estimates are not intended as financial or medical advice.

We encourage you to talk with your dentist or insurance provider for more detailed information.

Additional or pre-whitening procedures

Your dentist might recommend additional or pre-whitening procedures to ensure optimal results and safety. Most of the time, these extra procedures contribute to higher overall teeth whitening costs.

For instance, professional teeth cleaning and scaling may be necessary to remove any plaque, tartar, or surface stains that could affect the whitening process. This step may be recommended so whitening agents can work more effectively on the teeth.

The procedure can cost anywhere from $400 to $4000. And the price may also vary depending on the location and the extent of cleaning required.

Teeth whitening costs with and without insurance

Will your insurance cover your teeth whitening procedure?

While most dental insurance plans don’t cover teeth whitening, a few providers offer coverage but often will include a waiting period before the procedure.

A waiting period in dental insurance refers to the initial phase for new policyholders, during which coverage for basic procedures, like tooth extractions, fillings, and spacers, is not provided.

If your insurance provider covers your cosmetic procedure, its cost depends on how much the dental plan reimburses.

For example, your insurance provider covers teeth whitening at 80% after a six-month waiting period. If your cost for whitening is $600, insurance would cover $480, and the remaining $120 will be paid out-of-pocket.

However, if you don't have insurance, in-house or professional teeth whitening can cost around $500 to $600.

Which teeth whitening option should I choose?

Your budget is crucial when choosing the best teeth whitening treatment. The first step to getting the best deal is to assess your capacity to invest and commit to this cosmetic procedure.

It’s also a matter of understanding your dental priorities and setting realistic expectations. That’s why it’s always crucial to consult your dentist because they can:

  • Provide you personalized advice
  • Assess your oral health and recommend suitable treatments
  • Create a customized plan for you
  • Ensure safe application
  • Advise on maintaining results

For personalized advice and safe professional teeth whitening in Culver City, California, trust our experts at United Dental Care.

With a focus on your oral health and desired results, we offer comprehensive consultations to ensure you make an informed choice.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment and take the first move towards achieving that Hollywood smile.


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