Veneers are a great way to hide unattractive dental imperfections, but not everyone is an ideal candidate for the procedure. Some patients suffer from bruxism (teeth grinding) or don’t have sufficient enamel to support the veneers, while others might be hesitant to permanently alter the structure of their teeth. Fortunately, there are several alternatives to veneers that can improve the appearance of one or several teeth, either in a same-day dental visit or over a period of time.
If your teeth have chips, cracks, discoloration, or minor misalignment or gaps, dental bonding is a quick, non-invasive procedure that can conceal the imperfections.
During the procedure, your dentist will apply a custom-shaded composite resin to the affected tooth or teeth and sculpt, shape, file, and polish until it’s virtually indistinguishable from the surrounding teeth.
While dental bonding is one of the most affordable options to improve the appearance of teeth, it has a couple of disadvantages over some of the other options. The composite resin doesn’t offer the same natural reflective properties of dental porcelain, and it can stain over time. But overall, dental bonding can produce most of the same smile-beautifying results as dental veneers.
Very small imperfections to your teeth might require minimal alterations. If your teeth have jagged edges or minor chips, cosmetic contouring is one of the easiest ways to achieve instant improvement. During the procedure, your dentist will use a specialized filing burr or fine sandpaper disc to gently reshape the tooth or square up uneven teeth. However, cosmetic contouring shouldn’t be used for extensive reshaping—too much filing can reduce tooth enamel and increase sensitivity.
Dental crowns are a great option for patients with severe damage or discoloration, uneven sizing, or other unattractive features that go beyond the scope of veneers. The natural-looking porcelain caps are customized to match the shade and shape of the surrounding teeth, and they feel and function much like regular teeth. The procedure is more invasive than veneers, as your dentist must remove a significant amount of the tooth’s existing structure to accommodate the crown, but they are one of the strongest and longest-lasting options for smile restoration.
If your main concern with your smile is discoloration or staining, dentist-supervised teeth whitening treatments can deliver a bright, white smile with no impact on the structure of your teeth. In-office and take-home whitening treatments are far superior to treatments sold in stores, as they are able to chemically break apart stains in the enamel at a molecular level to lighten your teeth by up to eight shades over time. Teeth whitening can address surface stains caused by coffee, red wine, soda, and tobacco, but if you have deeper discoloration caused by trauma or silver dental fillings, or if you have “dead” teeth following a root canal, veneers might be a better option.
Moderate to severe misalignment and crooked teeth can be fixed with orthodontics. Whether you choose traditional braces or newer systems like Invisalign, both work by slowly moving your teeth into place over a long period of time. Traditional braces use brackets and wires that are adjusted once a month by your orthodontist, and clear brackets are available for a low-profile look. Invisalign is a removable tray that is replaced every one to two weeks, and has the advantages of allowing you to eat what you want and easily clean the trays. There are even accelerated systems available that can straighten teeth in just a few months instead of years.
If you want to improve your smile but you’re not an ideal candidate for dental veneers, the experts at Smile Designers can help you choose an alternative restoration treatment based on your goals and budget. Give us a call at (619) 222-6000 to schedule a consultation.