As a popular dental and cosmetic procedure, a professional in-office tooth whitening procedure (also known as chair-side whitening, power bleaching, professional whitening, or power whitening) is one of the best services out there. Then again, the cost of teeth whitening is probably high, right? After all, unlike home-use whitening systems that require you to follow instructions and possibly do things wrong due to human error, you have an actual dentist applying the teeth whitening gel or bleach onto your teeth safely and effectively, reducing the chances of mistakes.
Which Is More Expensive?
As a rule of thumb, in-office whitening is more expensive than home-use whitening (about six times or almost twice depending on which home-use service you have on hand). There’s no home-use service that can ever be as expensive as a cosmetic dentist visit. The specific cost depends on the extensiveness of the procedure, if it involves prophylaxis first, or the type of the method being used to whiten your teeth (like, for example, using the ZOOM! technique).
With that said, in-office whitening is definitely more expensive compared to home-based solutions and take-home alternatives exactly because a professional is doing it this time around. If your dental plan covers cosmetic dentistry services, then go ahead and let your company pay for an in-office or home-use whitening service. What’s more, there are discrepancies in costs between different brands or services of teeth whitening as well.
The Advantages of Teeth Whitening
There are many advantages you can get from teeth whitening, but it depends on what type of whitening you wish to avail of since each type has their own respective features and benefits as well as the teeth whitening cost.
- Whitening Toothpaste and Mouthwash ($7-$11): This is the most basic and affordable means of teeth whitening. It costs is nearly the same as buying an ordinary tube of toothpaste and mouthwash. Antiseptic mouthwash costs about $4. A tube of toothpaste costs about $3 to $7 and it usually has some sort of ingredient in it that aids whitening (like fluoride, which means it’s ineffective against fluorosis or teeth darkening due to excessive fluoride consumption).
The important thing here is that it’s nice and affordable and it’s easy to incorporate into your daily brushing routine. Then again, most people feel like this isn’t really true teeth whitening but just normal everyday hygienic habits so that the food you eat won’t stain your teeth. Then again, you know what they say about a pound of cure and an ounce of prevention.
- Whitening Strips ($70-$100): These OTC strips are as easy to get as whitening toothpaste and they are also quite affordable, available, and easy to apply. It’s arguably one of the best home systems for dental bleaching. It uses flexible strips for teeth whitening that cost $70 to $100. These strips are mostly used at home, but some dentist can also have them available for in-office teeth whitening purposes.
It’s a lot less messy and more convenient way to go about effectively whitening your teeth. It also uses carbamide peroxide as its active bleaching ingredient. Crest 3D White Strips in particular can remove 14 years’ worth of stains from your teeth. They come in pairs made for the lower and upper teeth. They’re also applied to places where the teeth are most visible so that the whiteness of your smile is readily apparent after the procedure is through.
- Bleaching Trays and Gels ($300-$400): This is technically both an in-office and home-use whitening solution because you’re encouraged by the dentist to continue the whitening process at home with take-home bleaching trays (although you can opt out and choose to let the dentist handle everything). With regards to the teeth whitening cost, it ranges from $300 to $400. Bleaching tray whitening involves creating molds of your teeth on your first visit to create the mouth guard trays.
After picking up the mold, then you can wear the mouth guard overnight, filling it with bleaching gel. Let the gel seep into your teeth on the prescribed amount of time and soon enough, you’ll get the pearliest and whitest of teeth. It has certain limits (as outlined above, like inorganic stains or dentin darkening), but for the most part it solves all issues of food-stained teeth yellowing. To maintain the whiteness, just make sure to brush daily and avoid teeth-staining products like tobacco, coffee, and alcohol.
- Laser Teeth Whitening ($500-$1,000): Aside from trays and gels that your dentist can use to make your teeth whiter or you can take home so that you can do the process yourself after your in-office visit, you can also use the power of lasers to make your teeth shine brighter than ever before! This service starts at $500 and can end up costing you all the way to $1,000 (but on average the cost is $650). This is the ultimate in-office teeth whitening service.
The gel that’s applied to your teeth is composed of 25% hydrogen peroxide with other chemicals in it so the dental dam is necessary to protect your gums, your mouth, and your face while concentrating the application of the solution on your teeth for whitening purposes. A light is then shone on the teeth to make the bleach activate and whiten the teeth almost immediately. The service takes about an hour to accomplish.
In-Office versus Home-Use Whitening Systems
There are certain pros and cons you need to take into consideration when it comes to home-use and in-office whitening. There are certain benefits to one service that aren’t present to the other.
- Expensiveness: Over-the-counter whitening strips for home-use whitening will only cost you a hundred bucks. Meanwhile, the teeth whitening cost of bleaching your teeth with the assistance of a dentist is $659, so that’s six times the expensiveness. Take-home trays on the other hand cost $400 (it has to be molded to the shape of your full set of teeth) so it’s somewhere in between the two extremes.
- Schedule and Timing: You have more leeway to pick and choose when to have your teeth bleached if you buy OTC solutions for your needs. It’s not only cheap; it’s convenient too. Meanwhile, in-office teeth whitening isn’t only expensive; it also requires you to drive or walk all the way to the office of your cosmetic dentist every time, so you have to schedule when you can do the procedure to be able to accomplish it.
- Transportation: The expensiveness of in-office procedures can be further exacerbated by transportation costs. Even if it’s walking distance, you still have to spend time and effort to go out and get there. In contrast, a home-use solution like bleaching trays and whitening strips can be used at home whenever you want (at the cost of effectiveness, since in-office whitening is still more effective when all is said and done).
- Severity: If you don’t have severely stained teeth, then you should stick with the less effective home-use service since it’s cheaper and it’s more than enough to keep your teeth white. On the other hand, if you are suffering from severe yellowing of teeth, then something more potent like in-office whitening might be called for.
- Effectiveness: Ultimately, in-office teeth bleaching or whitening is much more worth it in a cost-effectiveness point of view because of its effectiveness. You’re more assured to get whiter teeth despite the teeth whitening cost of $650 than paying for 6 or 7 $100 whitening strips or about 1 or 2 home-use bleaching trays that you have to fit into your mouth like a mouth guard of sorts.
- Professional Assistance: On one hand, the services of a home-based solution for getting a bright smile are rather self-explanatory. The best ones have clear instructions on what to do. On the other hand, in-office bleaching is far more effective so that you’ll only need one visit to get results from it. If you can afford it, you can take home bleaching trays after an in-office session so that you can whiten your teeth further while at home.
You’ll ultimately still have to do a cost versus value evaluation in regards to whether you should stick with home-use or in-office teeth whitening.
Disadvantages of Teeth Whitening
You should know what are the things that teeth whitening can or cannot do so that you can make up your mind on availing it. Here’s the nitty-gritty of how much teeth whitening costs and other warnings before availing of the service.
- Average Cost: To reiterate, while it only costs you about $100 to get some OTC whitening strips or bleaching trays to apply onto the surface of your teeth (you can even try out both if you’re adventurous), it costs $650 to do an in-office procedure with a pro cosmetic dentist. As for the take-home trays, the cost of teeth whitening is about $400, so it’s cheaper than in-office but more expensive than OTC solutions.
- Results May Vary: Most people tend to get excellent results from these whitening services. However, some might not. According to anecdotal evidence, some might get tooth sensitivity from getting their teeth whitened while others might have trouble whitening their yellowed teeth in the first place. It depends on age, heredity, and the severity of the staining. Gum and tooth sensitivity might occur as a drawback, but this has become controllable today with thicker peroxide gels that don’t soak the teeth as much as previous gels.
- Certain Stains Render Teeth Whitening Ineffective: If your teeth have inorganic stains, then in-office whitening might not do the trick to making your teeth whiter and brighter when all is said and done. You could possibly end up with darker teeth after the surrounding teeth have been whitened (by comparison). Ditto when it comes to teeth that have suffered trauma (which causes the darkening of the dentin), so no matter what the teeth whitening cost is, it’s not recommended.
- Chemically Induced Teeth Darkening Won’t Be Whitened with In-Office Procedures: If during tooth formation, you’ve ingested tetracycline antibiotics, you might get darker teeth. You might end up with drugs that chemically bind into the crystalline structure of the underlying dentin and the tooth enamel, which is hard to whiten through power bleaching means. Ditto with fluorosis or overexposure to fluoride. Consult a dentist to know the reason behind the darkening prior to availing of whitening services.
- Not Permanent: Just as you need to brush your teeth every day in order to achieve and maintain the whiteness of teeth without cosmetic procedures, it’s important to note that the act of teeth whitening isn’t permanent. You may need to do it again every so often, like every few years or every six months. The whitened teeth will accumulate stains again if you don’t brush them so to delay another in-office bleaching, make sure to do some tooth brushing after every meal.
Ways to Make the Service Cheaper
There are many ways you can use to make this cosmetic procedure much more merciful to your budget.
- Have the Dentist Evaluate Why Your Teeth Are Yellow: This way, you can avoid bothering with the expensive teeth whitening cost of in-office teeth whitening or even less expensive cost of home-use teeth whitening systems. You can instead focus on how to fix your fluorosis or hide your damaged dentin with whitening veneers.
- Dental Insurance: At the time of this writing, Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act is about to go out the window, with President Donald Trump researching for a viable replacement. It’s therefore recommended that you find and buy a dental insurance plan from a private insurance company.
- Get a Job with Dental Insurance Benefits: Instead of availing of an expensive dental insurance plan on your own, you can work at a company that offers it as one of your side benefits. Some big businesses offer incentives like vouchers and coupons for their employees. You can instead enjoy better dental with cosmetic dentistry coverage.
- Avail of Dental Tourism Packages: Cosmetic dentistry services in other countries are amazingly cheap. While stateside the cost of ZOOM! Laser Whitening is between $500 and $1,000 you can get the service in Thailand for only $280! Also, instead of flying there for the in-office whitening service, you can also turn it into a vacation package so that you can kill two birds with one stone in terms of value.
Thantakit International Dental Center is Thailand’s longest established dental center. Situated in Bangkok, our clinic is renowned across the world as a destination for world-class dentistry, with most of our patients flying to us from Australia.
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