When it comes to cosmetic dentistry, there are several methods and materials which can be used to help obtain that “perfect” smile.
Tooth whitening treatments may be all that you truly need to improve the look of your teeth.
However whitening products will generally not work well for teeth that are stained due to tetracycline or teeth that are mainly gray or brown in color.
People who have teeth which are essentially yellow in color will benefit the most from whitening products. If you look at some of the marketing advertisements for whitening products, my guess is you will notice that most of the photos show people with teeth that are primarily yellow. White spots, multiple fillings on the front of the teeth or other anomalies may also not improve with whitening.
Therefore if you want (or need) to dramatically improve the shape, color and style of your teeth you may need to turn to dental veneers or dental bonding. Both procedures are used to improve the overall appearance of your smile by changing the size shape and or color of your teeth.
Both are typically considered restorative, cosmetic treatments. Both procedures can hide visible imperfections on your teeth and can give you the appearance of a flawless smile.
What Are Veneers?
Ever wonder how celebrities get those perfectly even, white teeth? Chances are, they’re wearing dental veneers. Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that sit on the front layer of your teeth.
They can add length, change the shape and/or improve the color of your teeth. A single veneer can be placed individually to cover just one tooth if that is all that is required. However, if you want to improve the appearance of your entire smile, you may need to have a full set (6-8 teeth) of veneers so that all the teeth that show when you smile are the same size, color and “shape”.
Porcelain veneers are made in a dental laboratory by a dental technician/ceramist and they are custom crafted, fitted and color matched to your teeth (or made whiter if that is the desired result).
Although they can be placed directly on the teeth (as is the case with “Lumineers” or “no-prep veneers”) this will make the teeth thicker and may not be desirable aesthetically. Therefore it usually requires some adjustments or preparation of your natural teeth to allow for a minimum thickness of porcelain to cover the tooth underneath.There are 1-3 appointments required to plan the procedure before commencing treatment, however once that is done the actual process can often be done in 2-3 visits over a 2-3 week period.
Who Can Benefit Most From Veneers?
Veneers can be a good method to create a beautiful, flawless smile. They are generally meant for individuals with more severe stains, wear, minor rotations and minimal damage to their teeth.
If the teeth are too damaged or worn a full coverage crown may be a better solution (this can be aesthetically indistinguishable from a porcelain veneer). If your teeth are extremely rotated or crowded then orthodontic procedures will often be a more conservative and better method to dramatically improve your smile.
Your dentist will also need to check the general health of your teeth, gums as well as your bite to ensure that once the veneers are completed they will last as long as possible. You are a good candidate for veneers if you have:
- Severe stains and discoloration
- Cracked teeth
- Chipped teeth
- Large gaps in between your teeth
- Crooked teeth (mild to moderate)
- Teeth that overlap
- Worn teeth
What Is Dental Bonding?
Dental bonding is a general term to describe all processes whereby white fillings are applied to teeth. Most commonly, bonding is often understood as the process whereby a filling material is placed on the front surface of a tooth to change the size, shape, and color, much like a porcelain veneer. Dental bonding can be used to repair individual teeth or rebuild several teeth as well as create a uniform-looking smile.
It is perfect for those with a small irregularity they want to improve. Just like with veneers, the dentist will color match the bonding material to your neighboring teeth.
Who Can Benefit Most From Dental Bonding?
Dental bonding is perfect for minor fixes and discoloration. Dental bonding can be placed on the front of your teeth to cover cracks, discoloration, and chipped teeth. It can also be used to rebuild teeth that break if the damage is small to medium.
- Minor stains
- Misshapen teeth
- Exposed roots from receding gums
Comparing Veneers To Dental Bonding
Veneers and dental bonding are very similar treatments. Both are used to improve the appearance of your teeth. Your choice of treatment depends on your specific needs, and it is best to discuss those with your dentist for a more individually tailored plan.
In general, porcelain veneers are seen as the more long-term, permanent option for smile repair, but dental bonding with white filling materials can also be used for tooth repairs as well as cosmetic enhancement.
Like anything, there are pros and cons to both dental veneers and dental bonding.
Pros Of Veneers:
Veneers create a beautiful, white, uniform smile almost immediately. Veneers can typically cover cracks, stains, poorly shaped teeth much more effectively than bonding. Porcelain will tend to stainless, and it is much stronger, making it less likely to chip or break. Nevertheless, even porcelain veneers have a limited lifetime of around 15 years.
Veneers are perfectly color matched to imitate the look and feel of your natural teeth. They are made to appear slightly translucent, just like natural teeth and are extremely lifelike.
Cons Of Veneers:
Veneers are permanent. A thin layer of your tooth enamel is removed which will be replaced with the porcelain. That is then bonded (fused) to the top layer of your tooth enamel. This makes veneers essentially an irreversible procedure as the teeth have been permanently altered.
However, I have never seen a situation where a person with veneers wanted to have them removed and go back to their pre-existing condition.
Veneers are also slightly more costly. This is because they are custom made (requiring a laboratory step) and can often take more time and skill with the preparations and placement of the veneers.
Pros Of Dental Bonding:
Bonding is typically done as a one appointment procedure so it often is a “faster” procedure than a porcelain veneer; which takes at least two appointments. If the extent of the cosmetic work required is minimal to moderate bonding is often less expensive than porcelain veneers.
However, in the case of a complete smile makeover, it may not be much less than veneers so be sure to ask your dentist for the cost of both options. If some of your bonding ever chips or breaks it is quick and easy to repair.
If taken care of properly, dental bonding can last for up to 10 years before it needs to be replaced.
Cons Of Dental Bonding:
One of the disadvantages to dental bonding is that the material is a composite resin. Therefore, it is not as strong as porcelain. This makes it easier to chip, and it is more porous, making it more prone to staining after several years of use.
The challenge of dental bonding is the aesthetic limitations of the material. It can be more difficult to mask very dark and discolored teeth. And the ability to get an excellent result depends a lot on your dentist’s artistry and ability to manipulate the materials intraorally in a way that is cosmetically as good as a porcelain veneer.
A single or a few teeth may be relatively simple, but an entire smile can be very challenging. For that reason, dental bonding may be almost as expensive as having porcelain veneers as it may take considerably more in clinic time and skills on the part of the dentist.
Ask Your Dentist Which Is Best For You
Both dental veneers and dental bonding are powerful cosmetic procedures that can dramatically change the appearance of your smile. If you are self-conscious about deep stains or have teeth that are cracked or chipped, ask your dentist about what procedure would be best for you.
At VCCID we would be happy to help assist you if you want to learn more about veneers and dental bonding. Call or come on in to schedule your consultation.