Smile Makeovers – Do I need Porcelain Veneers, Invisalign, Crowns, Composite or Whitening?
When it comes to smile makeovers, there is a lot to consider and it can be very confusing. What is critical is that you consider a few different points of view before embarking on complex and sometimes irreversible dental work. What applies to your friends, influencers or relatives likely does not apply to your situation. There is only one you!
Let’s look at some of the facts and myths around cosmetic and rehabilitative dentistry to help make the right decision for your circumstances. It is critical to get your advice from knowledgeable, experienced professionals, and getting second opinions is also encouraged.
A good starting point is – What is the LEAST you can do for you to reach your smile goals?
This can mean different things to different people
Least time? Least invasive or destructive to natural tooth? Least expensive? Least ongoing maintenance?
Whitening – If you are happy with the position and shape of your teeth, but would like to change the colour, then whitening is the least invasive, and least expensive option. Apart from the risk of some temporary sensitivity and gum irritation, dentist-prescribed and monitored at home whitening is safe and reliable. This is especially true of take home whitening in custom fitted trays. Whitening gels come in different strengths and it is important to understand what you are getting and how this influences the outcome.
Whitening will not change the colour of existing fillings or crowns, and it will need to be repeated periodically as the effect fades and is also related to what you eat and drink ( coffee tea, wine etc) . You can expect nice results from whitening when used as prescribed, but not outrageous refrigerator white smiles!
Aligning your teeth – ( braces, Invisalign or other clear aligners) If your teeth are rotated, out of alignment or crowded for space, then moving them into an ideal position is usually the best option. Especially if they are of a satisfactory shape and you are after a more natural appearance. You can of course have them whitened as well. Aligning does take time and compliance, especially when it comes to using aligners. This can range from months to years, depending on how much movement is required. It is not an instant fix, but you also have not modified your teeth or placed anything on them that requires maintenance. Once your teeth have been straightened it is important to use retainers to keep them where they are for many years to come.
Can’t I just get my teeth veneered instead of aligning?
The answer is maybe. In some cases it is ok to jump directly to veneers if your teeth are in a reasonable position and you don’t feel you would be satisfied with the look of just aligning them.
Where it becomes more complex is if you want or need your teeth to be reshaped or rebuilt AND they are crowded. In many cases, aligning your teeth into a better position before placing veneers can result in improved aesthetic outcomes, reduced thickness of the veneer and most importantly, less cutting back of the natural tooth. Getting veneers done just because you want an instant result is not a decision to be taken lightly and an ethical dentist will present all options to you for your consideration.
Porcelain Veneers are not always about glowing white giant hollywood smiles. They are a way of restoring a worn tooth, making more significant changes to the shape of a tooth or blocking out discolouration. Porcelain veneers can also be customised to show very natural and life- like features. Only a small amount ( or in some cases none at all) of your natural tooth is removed for a veneer to be placed over it. In most people who do not have excessive grinding or wear, a veneer is a very durable (10+ year) restoration which has excellent colour stability and luster. Veneers are however expensive and will require replacing which needs to be factored in over your lifetime which is why aligning and whitening are very important to consider. It is aso very difficult to have veneer repaired if it does chip or is damaged which means replacement is required in the event of an accident. Wearing a night guard, also known as a splint is often indicated to prevent damage to veneers into the future.
Composite Veneers are made of white filling material and are usually hand made by the dentist with little or no trimming of your natural tooth. In many ways, a well done composite veneer can look comparable to a porcelain veneer, but they are more prone to chipping, breaking and staining and require more frequent polishing, repair or replacement. They are of course less expensive but are also more easily repaired. In general, people are more satisfied with the long- term colour, shape and luster and durability of porcelain over composite.
Crowns are rarely indicated for aesthetic smile makeovers where the underlying teeth are fundamentally sound. If a tooth has an existing crown, has significant wear on the back surface and other surfaces or already has multiple large fillings, then a crown can be the best choice for longevity. For teeth that are only worn on the tips or edges and are otherwise sound, a crown is not the ideal choice. The reason is that crowns require more natural tooth to be removed so they can be fitted over the top of them. Think of a veneer as a false fingernail and a crown as a helmet. Preserving your natural tooth is generally preferred by conservative dentists who wish to minimise invasive dental procedures that can have less desirable outcomes. Crowns can be very useful in strengthening back teeth that are prone to breaking.
So what are the take home messages?
Your specific situation, goals, budget, aesthetic expectations and expectations of longevity and maintenance will all play a part in the decision making.
The less invasive procedures generally carry less risk, but may not meet your smile goals.
Aligning and whitening natural teeth with perhaps a small amount of composite filling or veneers is often the least invasive way to get great , more natural results, it just takes longer to get the end result.
Porcelain veneers are a great way to restore certain types of worn teeth, or make more significant changes to their shape. Composite can achieve good outcomes for less money, but with less longevity and possibly less long term satisfaction. Crowns are used for aesthetic makeovers where certain conditions require them, but are otherwise not the preferred choice.
In some cases you might need none, some or all of the above options to achieve your ideal outcome.
Complimentary Aesthetic Consultation
Mater Hill Clinic Only
Thank you for your interest in our aesthetic dental consultation.
We know that many people are wanting to improve their smile, but often are embarrassed to ask, or are confused or unsure about options that best suit them.
Porcelain veneers, whitening, crowns, bridges, composite bonding, braces and clear aligner orthodontics are just some of many options used separately or in combination to achieve your desired results.
Each choice has advantages, risks and drawbacks and will have differing budgets. We know that a one size fits all approach does not apply when it comes to your smile.
What can I expect at my complimentary aesthetic consultation?
In 15-30 minutes we will
- Create a supportive and non-judgemental environment
- Listen to your concerns and smile goals
- Provide and explain options based on your specific situation and budget
- Answer any questions you have regarding aesthetic dental treatment and maintenance
- Provide some indicative pricing and follow up requirements if you choose to proceed
- Not place you under any obligation to start treatment
So what WON’T happen at your complimentary aesthetic consultation?
- A comprehensive check up or clean
- Any commencement of other dental treatment or planning unless time permits
- Pressure you or suggest dental work that is not in your best interests
So what happens after your complimentary aesthetic Consultation?
Depending on what is discussed and what treatment is ideal, you may wish to take things further. This could mean something easy like getting moulds for a whitening kit or book an appointment for some white fillings to reshape your teeth.
OR you may need to have some further investigations as outlined below.
- An example may be that if you are a good candidate for porcelain veneers or crowns you may need X rays, photos, 3D scanning and treatment planning in order to deliver you a smile trial. Fees apply for complex smile trials and your dentist will explain what applies to you.
- Another example is if your treatment likely involves clear aligners such as smile styler or invisalign there are specific scans, photos and investigations required to get a 3D plan of how your teeth would be moved and get a better idea of quoting and treatment times. Fees may apply for these investigations
Another possibility is that you may not be suitable for aesthetic treatment, or require other dental work as a priority which would need to be planned for and performed at a separate appointment if you choose. In any scenario we aim to be clear and transparent about your visit with our team.
If you have any further questions please get in touch.