An increasingly popular procedure in cosmetic dentistry, porcelain veneers are thin shells of porcelain made to fit over the front side of the teeth to ultimately improve and/or perfect their appearance. Unlike a cap, which encompasses the whole tooth, a veneer is bonded as a cosmetic mask to only the front side of the tooth. Porcelain veneers, as a cosmetic solution, offer many advantages over other cosmetic tooth repair options. For instance, the veneer procedure is completed quickly and provides instant results, compared to orthodontic treatments; the appearance is lifelike and natural; and veneers resist staining. There are, however, some downsides to choosing veneers.
Reasons for Veneers
Veneers can be used on multiple teeth or a single tooth, on the top and/or bottom of the mouth. Adult teeth that are misaligned, chipped, have ridged edges, or are of visibly different lengths are suitable candidates for veneers. The porcelain coverings can correct visible unevenness and varying tooth sizes that prevent the perfect smile. Heavily stained teeth that can't be whitened sufficiently with any available treatment can also benefit from veneers.
Cost of Treatment
Veneers can indefinitely improve the aesthetic of a patient's teeth, but the procedure is costly. The cost varies by dental office and geographic region, but as of 2009 it averages about $750 to $1,500 per tooth. The correction of only a few teeth by adding porcelain veneers can cost upwards of $3,000. Patients seeking dramatic improvement of the entire front of the mouth spend around $12,000. Often the quoted cost per tooth does not include preprocedure requirements, such as Xrays. Also, because the procedure is cosmetic and is difficult to medically justify, insurance coverage is rare.
Veneers are bonded to the teeth and guaranteed to be nearly as strong as the original tooth--meaning that the veneer is not going to become unattached or fall off during its life span. However, porcelain veneers have a life span of approximately 10 years. Therefore, once veneers are added to the teeth, they must be continually replaced, implying additional future costs. Replacement is not part of the cost incurred with the first application of veneers. This is the reason many patients choose braces to permanently align the teeth, despite the initial cost and time required to achieve results.
Whether it's white strips, professional bleaching, or laser whitening, no teeth whitening procedure will work to change the color of the porcelain veneers. While most veneers guarantee stain-resistance, veneers still lose their luster over time. The effective treatment of other teeth may result in a distinction between the natural teeth and the veneers, if there is a mixture of natural and veneer-covered teeth in the front of the mouth.
Possible Root Canal
Some teeth require a reshaping in order to apply the veneer. Crooked teeth often require that the front, out-turned part of the tooth is shaved down, in order to fit and flatten the veneer in a way that presents a straight tooth. If the original tooth calls for extensive shaving down, the dentist may have to perform a root canal on the tooth, since there is danger involved in applying a cosmetic covering over a nearly exposed nerve.
While veneers have a solid reputation for appearing natural, some veneers, in certain light, reveal translucency. Veneers applied over chipped teeth, for instance, may not have the consistent opacity of the original tooth, causing half of the tooth to appear somewhat translucent when observed in direct light.