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Is Teeth Whitening Covered By Insurance?

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Is Teeth Whitening Covered By Insurance?

For many, a bright, white smile is a coveted image. Canadians increasingly seek out teeth whitening to revitalize their smiles after a lifetime of stains and make lasting impressions in personal and professional settings.

However, with financial concerns often influencing dental choices, you may wonder if your insurance will cover a treatment like teeth whitening.

Teeth whitening is a type of cosmetic dentistry, so it’s unlikely any dental insurance plan will cover it. This hasn’t stopped many people from enjoying the benefits of professional teeth whitening.

What Is Teeth Whitening?

Teeth whitening is a cosmetic dental procedure that helps brighten the colour of your teeth. Teeth can naturally change colour over time, and aging is one of the primary factors behind teeth discolouration. This can be distressing for people searching for a vibrant, white smile.

Teeth stains can either be intrinsic or extrinsic. Extrinsic stains are sometimes referred to as surface stains since they sit on the enamel, the top layer of the tooth. Common causes of extrinsic stains include:

  • Coffee and tea
  • Cola
  • Red sauce
  • Red wine
  • Berries
  • Chocolate
  • Smoking or tobacco use

All these substances contain strong pigments capable of adhering to tooth enamel and causing stains over time. Intrinsic discolouration occurs within the tooth’s inner structure and can be a bit more complex to address.

Causes of intrinsic stains can include:

  • Trauma
  • Tooth decay
  • Certain medications, such as tetracycline antibiotics
  • Overexposure to fluoride

Dental Insurance & Teeth Whitening

When it comes to dental insurance, policies are as varied as the smiles they’re meant to protect.

Dental insurance in Canada is currently experiencing some big changes. The Canadian Dental Care Plan is rolling in slowly, but dental plans still operate differently in each province. Most dental care isn’t covered under OHIP, so your coverage likely comes through another provider, such as Ontario Blue Cross or your work.

Typically, plans provide a certain amount of coverage for basic dental procedures, such as cleanings, fillings, and root canals, but they don’t cover cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening.

Some insurance companies offer an allowance for cosmetic work, such as bonding or veneers. However, this isn’t common and coverage for teeth whitening specifically is still rare, if not unheard of.

The truth is that teeth whitening is often an out-of-pocket expense. Understanding this before scheduling a whitening procedure is crucial for individuals paying for coverage, as it can influence your decision on the method and timing of whitening treatments.

Types of Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is a process that lightens the discolouration of enamel and dentin. It essentially involves using bleaching agents to eradicate stains.

The active ingredient in most tooth-whitening products is carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. When these ingredients disintegrate, oxygen enters the enamel and dentin and lightens their colour. This isn’t an abrasive process—teeth aren’t physically whitened like if you were scrubbing your kitchen floor. Instead, the chemical reaction is responsible for the brightening.

At-Home Teeth Whitening

Some at-home whitening options, such as whitening toothpaste, use abrasive particles to whiten teeth. However, most other kinds of toothpaste use some form of abrasive, so it’s unlikely that whitening toothpaste will cause excessive wear. 

Other at-home methods may include:

  • Whitening gum
  • Trays with bleaching solution
  • Whitening strips

At-home kits can make big promises, and while many can work for surface stains, the results may take longer to become apparent. Still, some people enjoy the convenience and lower cost. You’ll likely have to turn to your dentist to brighten deeper stains with quicker results.

Professional Teeth Whitening

Dentists can offer high-concentration bleaching gels and have the training to provide a safe and precise application. Some in-office treatments can give you brighter teeth in around an hour, and the treatments can be customized for your needs rather than attempting a one-size-fits-all approach.

You can also get take-home whitening kits that include a custom-made tray. Since this tray is formed from a bite impression of your teeth, it can fit you comfortably and help the bleaching gel reach everywhere it needs to.

However, not everyone is a candidate for teeth whitening. Individuals with gum disease, worn enamel, cavities, and other dental issues may not be eligible for the procedure. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also avoid whitening treatments due to the chemicals involved.

A Brighter Smiling With Professional Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening can be more than just a cosmetic procedure; it can be an investment in your overall health and happiness. A whiter smile can lead to a boost in self-esteem and confidence. Confidence is a powerful tool, and it often starts with a smile.

If you’re considering teeth whitening, Dentistry on Danforth is happy to help you explore your options. Our team can help you determine if teeth whitening is right for you and guide you through the process to achieve the desired results without compromising your oral health.

Book a teeth whitening appointment today. A beautiful, brighter smile is within reach!

Written by Dr. Kostas Papadopoulos

Dr. Kostas Papadopoulos received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Toronto in 1992 after completing 3 years of biochemistry and the 4-year program in dentistry. He enjoys continuing education and has attended numerous rehabilitative and cosmetic dentistry programs, including courses taught by Dr. John Kois.

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