Alternatives to porcelain veneer placement.
Tooth bonding, tooth bleaching, orthodontic treatment each offer their own advantages.
Most people have porcelain veneers placed because they want to make some type of cosmetic change with the appearance of their teeth. However, as wonderful as a set of veneers can be, placing them is not totally without consequences.
Because of this, before you decide to have a set placed, you owe it to yourself learn about other treatment approaches that can, in some situations, provide a very similar end result.
Of course, these treatments will have their own advantages and disadvantages. Bringing them to your attention is one of the purposes of this page.
What are the alternatives to porcelain veneers?
Considering just those dental procedures that might be use to only make an appearance change for teeth, three should be mentioned. They are: dental bonding and composite veneers, orthodontic treatment, and teeth whitening treatments.
What types of cosmetic changes can porcelain veneers make?
Most sets of porcelain veneers are placed for one of the following reasons.
- Lightening the color of teeth.
- Idealizing the overall shape and contours of teeth.
- Improving the apparent alignment of a patient's teeth.
- Closing tooth spacing.
There are other, more conservative, treatments that can resolve these same issues.
Each of the changes listed above could be accomplished by using some type of dental treatment or procedure other than porcelain veneers.
And in many cases this approach might be considered to be the more conservative one. The conservatism being measure in either reduced treatment cost, less tooth trauma or tooth structure loss associated with treatment, providing a treatment outcome that has a longer expected longevity or lower long-term maintenance cost.
Of course, every dental approach has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages.
It is important to state, however, that these same alternatives may have issues or factors associated with them that make them unacceptable to the patient. Some of these include:
- The treatment might not offer as much control and predictability over the case's aesthetic outcome that the patient desires.
- When compared to veneering technique, the time frame required for the treatment alternative may simply be too extended.
- The alternative treatment may involve factors that the patient feels are too inconvenient to tolerate.
What are the alternatives to placing porcelain veneers?
1) Whitening treatments.
Teeth-whitening treatments (either performed in your dentist's office, or else at-home on your own) can, in some instances, provide an excellent alternative to porcelain veneers. Of course, this approach will only provide a color change for the teeth, so if their alignment or shape isn't already pleasing, a whitening approach won't offer much benefit.
Even in those cases where this approach might be used, it's often not chosen. Bleaching results can be unpredictable, they take time and effort to achieve (especially if you're performing the treatments on your own at home), and whitening results will relapse over time and need to be renewed.
While we do understand these disadvantages, we still think that they pale in comparison to the initial cost and long-term maintenance effort and cost associated with a set of porcelain veneers. And even if your whitening efforts don't totally resolve your cosmetic concerns, having whitened your teeth first can make the task of lightening them with porcelain veneers (and getting a great, natural-looking result) easier for your dentist.
[ We describe much more about using a whitening approach instead of veneers here. ]
2) Orthodontic treatment.
Orthodontic treatment can provide a wonderful alternative to veneers. Especially in light of the fact that there are so many new ways to have it (many of which are much less noticeable than traditional metal braces).
Of course, the pre-existing conditions that need to exist for this approach are: 1) The patient's teeth must have a generally pleasing shape and outline (however, minor changes can usually be made quite easily after treatment). 2) The teeth also need to have a pleasing coloration (or else whitening treatments need to be utilized sometime, either before or after treatment).
A choice to have braces often isn't selected because it takes time (months, or more likely, one or two years) for treatment to be completed. We should point out, however, that the long-term maintenance of the outcome this approach is much cheaper and less involved than maintaining a set of veneers.
[ We describe much more about using orthodontic treatment in lieu of veneers here. ]
3) Dental bonding.
Bonding can provide an alternative to porcelain veneers in two ways.
a) White fillings - A big advantage of using bonding to treat tooth imperfections is that it only needs to be placed in those areas where the problem actually exists. In comparison, with veneering technique, the entire front side of a tooth is resurfaced.
Using bonding this way helps to limit expenses. It also disrupts less natural tooth structure and can help to avoid unintended complications with maintaining gum-tissue health.
As a disadvantage, bonding isn't as lasting as porcelain (it will stain more easily). As an advantage, however, at that point when its appearance needs rejuvenating, it's usually relatively easy and inexpensive to replace.
b) Composite veneers - Veneers made out of dental bonding material are an exact alternative to porcelain veneers (in the sense that they are the same type of object, just made out of a different material).
These veneers can be cheaper, take fewer appointments to place and be easily repaired if needed. They can sometimes provide a very similar end result as porcelain veneers but this is very dependent upon the dentist's skills and even then not always possible (due to the nature of dental composite). Composite veneers aren't as lasting as their porcelain alternative (dental composite will stain and wear over time).
[ The issue of composite veneers vs porcelain veneers is discussed in greater detail here. ]
You may not really want a "perfect" smile.
The alternatives listed on this page may not be able to offer results that are as cosmetically perfect as those provided by a set of porcelain veneers. However, that may not really be such a bad thing. Here's why: Why don't perfect smiles look natural?