Walk into a dentist office, hiding an embarrassing smile and walk out ready to audition for a toothpaste commercial.
Cosmetic dentistry is any dentist treatment that is performed to improve the appearance of your teeth and or smile. We have all seen our favorite Hollywood stars and TV celebrities sporting perfectly straight white smiles and, for a while, this sort of smile came with a celebrity price tag to match. However, the so called ‘Hollywood Smile’ has become more and more popular and many cosmetic dentists are now offering these types of treatments at increasingly affordable prices.
If you have perfectly aligned teeth, then a spot of whitening may be all you need. Many of us, however, need a little more cosmetic dentistry to get things straightened out!
There are a number of different options available to help in these circumstances, including porcelain veneers and composite bonding. They both perform roughly the same job but there are differences in price, appearance and longevity.
Advantages of Veneers
Porcelain veneers cost $925 – $2500 (£300 – £1500 in UK) each, depending on skill and qualifications of the dentist and the amount of treatment involved. They can take between 1 day and 4 weeks to complete. What are dental veneers? They are primarily used to correct the appearance of crooked teeth, twisted teeth or stained teeth that can not be treated with conventional tooth whitening treatments. The veneers are custom made from a wafer thin tooth-colored porcelain (although they can also be made of a ceramic material) which is attached to the front of the teeth.
In the same way as you may attach a false nail to a broken or damaged fingernail, a veneer can be added to improve the appearance of your teeth. They are thin but obtain strength from the tooth on which they are bonded. Porcelain veneers can, however, be damaged by biting unusually hard surfaces like bottle caps or shelled nuts.
Frequent alcohol consumption can dissolve the bonding agent. Soft bristle toothbrushes are recommended to prevent gumline recession. Properly cared for, veneers can theoretically last a lifetime or 10–15 years on average.
Advantages of Composite Bonding
Composite bonding costs $150 – $1500 (£80 – £1000 in UK) per tooth and depending on how much treatment is necessary, it may take anything from 30 minutes to a few hours. As well as producing white fillings for small cavities, it can also be used to improve the appearance of chipped and broken teeth and also to fill gaps.
Bonding uses a tooth-colored resin or type of plastic. It is a little quicker to complete than veneer work, as composite bonding does not have to be custom made.
The composite resin literally bonds to the tooth but is not as strong as tooth enamel. It must remain dry in order to cure properly during application so it may be unsuitable for cheek-side chips on rear molars.
Composite bonding is also prone to staining and, on average, lasts half as long as its porcelain counterpart. If you choose composites then you will need to bear in mind that tea, coffee and cigarettes will stain quite readily and you may need to replace the resin even sooner.
Porcelain veneers are more expensive than composite bonding but they tend to provide a more natural and translucent appearance impervious to staining. It is also worth bearing in mind that composite bonding will need to be replaced more often, especially if you enjoy tea and coffee or smoke and could therefore end up costing more in the long run. Composite bonding is, however, ideal for covering small breaks or chips and it preserves more of the natural tooth.
Composite bonding will need to be replaced more often.
Making the decision to have this type of work done can be a big one and many people like to consult a cosmetic dentistry guide and it is always advisable to discuss your requirements and expectations with an expert before making a commitment.
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UPDATED: NOV 30, 2022