In the realm of cosmetic dental care, there are a number of methods that can be used to help patients alter the look of their smile.
If you are looking to change the shape, colour, or general appearance of your teeth, you may want to look into dental veneers or dental bonding. Both procedures can help hide visible imperfections on your teeth and may be able to give you the appearance of a more uniform smile.
What are dental veneers?
Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that are attached to the front of your teeth. This procedure can add length, change the shape, and lighten the colour of your teeth. A single veneer can be placed individually to cover one tooth, or a full set can be applied to multiple teeth to make your smile more even.
Veneers are custom-made in a laboratory, they are fitted and colour matched to your teeth. They are placed directly on the teeth, making the teeth thicker, therefore the procedure usually requires the removal of a thin layer of enamel. Appointments are needed to plan, but once that is done the actual process can often be done in 2-3 visits.
Who could benefit from veneers?
You are a good candidate for veneers if you have:
- Severely stained or discoloured teeth
- Cracked teeth
- Chipped teeth
- Large gaps in between your teeth
- Crooked teeth (mild to moderate)
- Teeth that overlap
- Worn teeth
Pros of Veneers
Veneers can create white, uniform smiles by covering cracks, stains, and poorly shaped teeth. Porcelain is resistant to staining and is very strong, making it resistant to chipping and cracking as well.
Veneers are colour matched as closely as possible to your natural teeth. They are made to appear slightly translucent, just like natural teeth, and as a result, are quite realistic in appearance.
Cons of Veneers
Veneers are considered a (somewhat) permanent procedure. Tooth enamel is removed and replaced with the porcelain that is then bonded to the top layer of the tooth. This means that the tooth has been permanently changed by the veneer process.
Veneers can also be somewhat costly. This is because they are custom-made and can often take more time and skill during preparation and placement, and they may also require replacement after a period of time (on average, about 15 years)
What is dental bonding?
Dental bonding is a general term to describe all processes whereby white fillings are applied to teeth. For cosmetic purposes, bonding is placed on the front surface of a tooth to change the size, shape, and colour, much like a porcelain veneer. Dental bonding can be used to repair individual teeth or rebuild several teeth, all with the aim of creating a uniform-looking smile.
Bonding can be a good choice for those with a small dental irregularity they want to improve. Just like with veneers, the dentist will colour match the bonding material to your neighbouring teeth.
Who might benefit from dental bonding?
Dental bonding might be right for you if you have the following:
- Minor stains
- Misshapen teeth
- Exposed roots from receding gums
Pros of Dental Bonding
Bonding is typically done in one appointment so it is often quicker than the process for porcelain veneers, 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.
If the bonding chips or breaks over time, it is typically 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 it is not as strong as porcelain. It can chip more easily and is more porous, meaning it is more susceptible to staining.
The challenge of dental bonding is the aesthetic limitations of the material. It can be more difficult to mask very dark and discoloured teeth.
In addition, while a single or a few teeth may be relatively simple, an entire smile can be difficult to improve with bonding. For that reason, dental bonding can end up being almost as expensive as porcelain veneers, as it may take considerably more time and skills on the part of the dentist.