If you have a couple of teeth that are chipped or uneven you may like the rugged look it gives you or you may be like most of us and are considering fixing the imperfections with bonding or veneers. While there are plenty of similarities between the two procedures, there are a few key differences that can help you make your decision.
Bonding Has Its Benefits
Dental bonding is a simple procedure that can usually be completed in just one appointment. Here’s how it’s done. First the dentist will apply a conditioning liquid which makes your teeth more porous, helping the bonding material adhere to your teeth better. That way the bonding will last longer, usually for about 3- 5 years. Then, the dentist takes a soft, tooth-colored bonding material – a resin – and applies it by freehand directly to your tooth. It can be used to cover up chipped or uneven teeth, fill gaps and even protect exposed tooth roots caused by receding gums. This stuff can do wonders!
Dental bonding is relatively affordable, with each tooth costing around $300-600, according to CostHelper. Plus, if it’s for health reasons, dental insurance will often cover a portion of the cost. However, your insurance is not likely to cover bonding done for strictly cosmetic purposes. Bummer.
There are a couple of other things to keep in mind about using bonding. When used to cover an entire tooth, bonding can look a little unnatural, and over time the resin can be stained. However, if damaged, dental bonding is relatively easy to repair or touch up.
The Value of Veneers
If you choose to go the veneer route, the dentist will first make a mold of your tooth. Then using that mold, a porcelain veneer is made to apply over the tooth. That veneer is bonded to the tooth using a light-sensitive resin. However, before the veneers are actually applied, a thin layer of enamel is removed so that the veneer sits more evenly on the original tooth. The results are a veneer with a natural-looking finish and placement.
- Brighter Smile
For some, teeth whitening is not an option. Veneers offer these people a great choice because it can create a whiter smile while still looking natural.
If your teeth are slightly crooked or gapped, veneers can sometimes help improve these problems without braces. Because they are fitted over the surface of your teeth, they can camouflage issues like these to give you a perfect smile instantly -- without months of wearing braces.
Veneers are durable, generally lasting about 10-15 years, and are resistant to staining, even for those who are regular coffee drinkers or smokers. However, if you clench or grind your teeth, bite your nails, or chew on pencils, veneers may not be the best option as they will weaken and crack over time.
It’s important to keep in mind that applying veneers does require a bit of time. The whole process usually takes at least three appointments: one for a consultation, one to make the mold and one to apply the veneers. Additionally, veneers can be quite pricey, ranging from $500-1,100 per tooth, according to CostHelper.
Which One’s Right for Me?
Both bonding and veneers have their benefits, and their drawbacks. Generally speaking, however, if you’re looking to fix the appearance of your smile, veneers may be a better option. In addition to durability, they offer a more natural-looking smile with a stain-resistant, brilliant-white finish. However, if you’re looking to just repair a chipped tooth, or are only interested in changing the shape of a few teeth, bonding may be a better, quicker and more affordable option.
Ask your dentist to help you envision both. Often times he or she can provide you with a mock-up for different veneers, or even create a digital image of how your new smile will look. This glimpse into your possible “after” image, plus understanding all the pros and cons of each procedure, will make it much easier to decide if bonding or veneers are the best choice for you.