Paying for a Hollywood Smile

Porcelain veneers are responsible for many perfect Hollywood smiles, but they come at a cost... not only to your bank balance but also to the integrity and long-term health of your teeth.  Before you invest in this form of cosmetic dentistry, be sure to ask some searching questions, both of your dentist and yourself.

To help you make an informed decision and minimise the risks if you choose to get veneers, I've put together a checklist of 15 questions:

  • to ask of your dentist in the initial consultation;

  • to ask of yourself about the dentist after the initial consultation; and

  • to ask yourself,  and other health professionals.

Click on the button below to download your FREE Veneers Checklist PDF of 15 questions you should ask before getting veneers. 

What are veneers?

Sometimes called caps, veneers are thin shells of porcelain attached to your own teeth to make them appear straighter, longer and/or whiter. They are sometimes compared to false fingernails as they are about the same thickness, and comply with the same unrealistic standards of beauty. The false fingernail comparison may be contributing to the growing popularity of veneers, encouraged by cosmetic dentists and ‘walk in dental clinics offering lunchtime smiles’*. However, veneers are not the equivalent of false fingernails. 

Veneers are permanent, they are inevitably damaging and they are often painful. They take real skill to fit safely and attractively, yet the practice is unregulated and any dentist can offer them.  And they are very expensive. 

Once you have been fitted for veneers you will not be able live comfortably without them for the rest of your life. Veneers involve 'shaving and molding' at least 0.5 - 1 mm of the enamel surface from the tooth to create a surface needed to bond the veneers. 

Removing too little enamel can cause the veneers to feel uncomfortably thick: affecting bite, speech and chewing.

Removing too much enamel can expose the nerves in the dentin causing extreme pain during and after the shaving procedure and even after the veneers are fitted.

How can a veneer fail?

Most veneers do not cause problems, but as their popularity grows, with consumers and dentists, there are increasing numbers of people experiencing problems. In the UK alone dental negligence cases are increasing at about 20% per year.*  So what kind of things can go wrong with veneers?

  • Veneers can fall off the teeth when the bond fails
  • Gaps between the veneers and the underlying tooth can allow bacteria to flourish, leading to decay
  • Overhanging veneers cause problems to the bite; making talking and eating difficult, causing headaches and neck problems, contributing to pain, sleeplessness and gum disease.
  • If the dentist removes too much enamel from the root surface the nerve can become inflamed or infected and the tooth can die off.

What happens when a veneer fails?

If the original veneers were comfortable and long lasting, you are probably a good candidate for replacement veneers. This is likely to cost a lot more than your original veneers did. Replacement veneers require even more skill to apply because there is less tooth structure to bond to than during the original procedure. 

If your veneers have failed quickly and painfully, unfortunately it's likely that the only solutions are either a root canal and crown, or an extraction and implant. Both procedures are painful and expensive... and have long term health consequences.

What you need to know before getting veneers, caps and cosmetic dentistry

What are the alternatives to veneers?

The best alternative dental treatment is to whiten the teeth and gently contour the enamel edges; trimming a long edge or building up shorter edges with composite.

Crowns can achieve the cosmetic advantages of veneers but are considerably more damaging to the tooth structure, often leaving only a peg or stump of tooth beneath. They should only be used when the tooth is already severely compromised by decay or a root canal.

There are holistic solutions to the problems of crooked and discolored teeth. For example, adjusting your diet and other self-help strategies will strengthen and whiten your teeth. A specialist cranial-sacral oesteopath and can help to ease up crowded teeth.

These approaches take more time and commitment than buying cosmetic dentistry. The results will never be as dramatic as veneers but they are more sustainable and involve less risk.

Even the most expensive holistic strategies will cost less over your lifetime than then the initial cost of the cheapest veneers (which might be guaranteed for 5 years).

what you need to know about veneers, caps and cosmetic dentistry

The cost of veneers encourages many consumers to look internationally for more affordable dentists.  When shopping for dental services overseas it is even more important to do your due diligence about the dentist to ensure they are experienced and well equipped to provide a safe service and comprehensive aftercare and guarantees.  The questions in the Veneers Checklist should be asked no matter where you are buying your veneers. 

Click on the button below to download your FREE Veneers Checklist PDF of 15 questions you should ask before getting veneers. 

Further reading: 

*According to market research by Mintel, the amount of money spent on cosmetic dentistry in the UK last year rocketed to £627million, from £519million in 2006 and £210million in 2005.  Read more

Realself  

The Dental Law Partnership