I often receive a number of questions regarding porcelain veneers, as well as the alternatives available to cosmetic dentistry patients. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions that I wanted to take a moment to address. In addition, if you have questions regarding cosmetic dentistry, please visit our previous blog on
What are veneers?
Veneers are thin porcelain laminates that replace or supplement existing enamel for aesthetic purposes.
What is dental bonding?
Dental bonding is a procedure typically used to correct small chips, cracks or gaps in the smile. During the procedure, the cosmetic dentist will add tooth-colored composite directly to the tooth and sculpt it in the mouth. While dental bonding will look just like a veneer, the physical properties of the composite are not as long lasting as the porcelain in the veneer.
In what instances should I get bonding rather than veneers?
Traditionally, bonding is used when one or two teeth need correction and these teeth do not receive a lot of stress in the mouth. So, for instance, if you chip your front tooth, bonding would be the best option to correct the chip. In addition, bonding is used for younger patients who may require a transitional restorative procedure.
What is the difference between a veneer and a crown?
The difference between a veneer and a crown is really in the amount of tooth structure that must be removed. Many times, patients do not have enough solid or healthy tooth structure to support a veneer, and in these instances a crown will be required. However, for those who have a good amount of existing enamel, a veneer is the best option, as this will allow them to keep the existing tooth structure and maintain the natural strength of the tooth. Yet, whether you require a crown or a veneer, the two will look almost identical to the untrained eye.
Is a veneer as strong as a crown?
Although the crown procedure removes more enamel from the tooth, the crown itself is stronger than the veneer. In addition, there are many variations of crowns, meaning there are much stronger options than with veneers. However, there is a strength to beauty trade-off. So, the stronger the crown, the less appealing to the eye it will be (Note: this is not easily recognizable to the untrained eye). That is because the strength of the crown will come down to the materials used and with stronger materials, there is often a subtle trade-off in beauty.
To see photos of patients with both crowns and porcelain veneers, visit our Smile Gallery.
How long do these restorations typically last?
How long restorations last will almost always depend on the amount of stress the person is putting on the teeth. Typically, porcelain veneers and crowns will last anywhere from 10 to 15 years, while dental bonding will last anywhere from five to seven years. The biggest difference between the three is almost always in the mode of failure.
In what ways do these restorations fail?
The failure of most restorations is due to chipping. This includes veneers, crowns and bonding. In addition, crowns can also fail due to decay, as much of the enamel has been removed that protects the tooth from decay. It is important to note that not all veneers or crowns will fail at the same time. In fact, these will typically be replaced one or two at a time.
How much do each of these restorations cost?
The price range for these restorations really depends on the area of the country that you live. For instance, veneers in Los Angeles and New York City are going to run anywhere from $2,500 to $3,500 a piece, whereas veneers in a more rural part of the country may run anywhere from $975 to $1,250 a piece. That is because the price depends on the demand for the service and the experience of the dentist and your area’s cost of living.
Does this mean that if you are looking for an inexpensive restoration you should go to Mexico to have this done? My answer to this would emphatically be NO. That is because dentists in Mexico do not have the same standards or training as those in the U.S. The bottom line is that you should be looking for a good return on your dollar. You get what you pay for, which should be dental work that feels good, looks good and improves your quality of life.