By John Hand –
Who doesn’t love a perfect smile? A nice grin combined with pearly white teeth can go a long way in making a good first impression. It is little wonder then that people less confident about their smiles are increasingly moving to veneers to brighten things up.
The process, which places a covering—usually porcelain—on the front of chipped, broken, small or discolored teeth has actually been around in various forms since the 1930s but has surged in popularity in recent years thanks to its use by movie stars, singers and social media influencers. By 2021, in fact, the global market for veneer teeth had reached $2.1 billion and was expected to increase by more than 8 percent annually through 2030, according to Grand View Research. This growth begs a few questions, however. Are veneers worth the price, safe and effective?
Value is relative to what a person can afford—and veneers can be expensive. In terms of whether they are safe and effective, the answers are probably yes with a few provisions.
Veneers are cosmetic solutions. They do not fix teeth, they only cover up problems. Someone dealing with a deep-seated dental issue needs to have it addressed medically before opting for a veneer, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The practice also only involves the front of a tooth. Everyday Health reports that this makes it critically important for users to properly maintain dental hygiene of the backside of teeth through proper brushing and flossing. It also warns that since some veneer treatments require removing a thin layer of enamel from teeth, there is a risk that they can become hot or cold-sensitive.
Veneers are also costly. One thin porcelain shell attached to the front of a tooth can come with a $2,500 price tag, though there are less expensive options, Healthline.com reports. What may make matters worse, since they are generally categorized as a cosmetic procedure, dental insurance rarely covers the cost.
Not all veneers are created equal. The two most popular options are either made of porcelain or a resin-composite. Porcelain is the more expensive procedure, requiring a dentist to make an impression of the tooth being replaced, which is turned into a porcelain mold. A composite resin veneer is applied after a dentist takes away a thin layer of the tooth and then applies a layer of composite material. A resin veneer is less expensive, with a price range of $400-$2,000 per tooth, however, they have a life expectancy of 5-7 years. Porcelain veneers last at least ten years and are seen as the preferred, if not more costly, approach.
“Porcelain veneers show excellent aesthetic results and predictable longevity of the treatment, while composite veneers can be considered a good conservative option, but with less durability,” a recent study noted.
A less invasive option is a no-prep veneer that involves less work. This approach also can skip removing any enamel from a tooth, but it may ultimately lack the durability and cosmetic appeal of porcelain or resin veneer. The price range for no-prep veneers is $800 to $2,000 a tooth.
Regardless of the options, the process of getting veneers involves several visits to a dentist over weeks. In addition, follow-up appointments are necessary for routine maintenance.
One clarification, veneers are often confused with crowns, which are more invasive and are used to repair significant damage to a tooth. A crown also sits on top of the tooth, completely surrounding it in comparison to the thin shell a veneer puts on the front of a tooth.
Ultimately, price aside, veneers could be the right choice for someone looking for a better smile. It is wise and recommended to first review the options with a dentist.