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Will Dental Insurance Cover Teeth Whitening?

By Susan Braden

Teeth Whitening: Is It Covered By Dental Insurance

While there are several different whitening methods available, dental insurance companies tend to reject claims for cosmetic procedures. Traditional insurance is not always your last resort, however – a discount plan may provide the coverage you need.


Methods to Whiten Your Teeth

Whitening Toothpaste

The mildest method is whitening toothpaste, which usually contains a mild chemical agent as well as gentle polishing abrasives to work on the surface level. Even when used consistently, the difference in tooth color may be minimal. Insurance does not apply in this situation.

Over-the-Counter Whitening

OTC whitening commonly refers to strips with a thin layer of gel on one side that you place across each row of teeth and leave in for a period of time. Usually sold in two-week packages, the system is generally more effective than long-term whitening toothpaste. Insurance will not apply in this situation either.

Bleaching

The next step up is tray-based bleaching you can do at home. For this process, your dentist creates a custom-fit tray and supplies the whitening agent for you to use at home. This agent is slightly stronger than over-the-counter versions and is applied for longer periods of time over the course of about four weeks. Insurance generally will not cover this method.

In-Office Whitening

The most expensive method is administered by your dentist in-office. This process is similar to the at-home tray-based method, except that the bleaching solution is stronger and the process is quicker. The tray also protects your gums, and the gel is usually applied directly to your teeth. A dentist can monitor the results for discoloration and sensitivity.

Risk of Teeth Whitening

These bleaching treatments are not recommended for everyone. Some common issues:

  • Patients with sensitive teeth could experience a painful reaction.
  • The tooth pulp, or nerve chamber, on children under 16 is larger than an adult’s and could become irritated.
  • Some patients are allergic to the ingredient peroxide.
  • Those with worn enamel or exposed roots will notice places where the peroxide did not penetrate.
  • Decayed matter in cavities absorbs the bleach, pulling it to the inside of the tooth and causing sensitivity.
  • Bonding, crowns and veneers do not whiten, so the bleach agent will only affect the surrounding teeth.

Dental Insurance for Teeth Whitening

Learn about Affordable Dental Plans


There is a very slim chance of convincing your insurance company that whitening your teeth is necessary and not merely cosmetic. While most dental insurance companies do not cover cosmetic work, an affordable dental plan might.

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