If your dentist decides that porcelain veneers are not the right treatment for you, there are several other options that can achieve a radiant, natural-looking smile. Some patients are hesitant to permanently alter the structure of their teeth, so they opt for dental bonding as a conservative alternative. Others simply want to brighten the color of their smile and can achieve a dramatic aesthetic enhancement with teeth whitening. For patients with more extensive damage to a single tooth, dental crowns may provide a more effective option, while orthodontics can address even severe misalignment for a straighter smile. During a consultation, your dentist can discuss available options with you to determine whether alternatives to veneers can better address your needs.
Bonding may be recommended for patients with insufficient dental enamel or for those who do not want to permanently alter the structure of their teeth. During the bonding procedure, your dentist will apply a composite resin to the front of one or more teeth. The resin can be custom-shaded, sculpted, and polished so it is virtually indistinguishable from your natural enamel.
With dental bonding, your dentist can achieve many of the same results that are possible with veneers. While composite resin can stain over time and does not offer the same natural reflective qualities as dental porcelain, bonding can conceal cracks, discoloration, misalignment, and gaps between teeth. It is also considerably less expensive than veneers.
Patients who only want to enhance the color of their smiles may opt for teeth whitening instead of veneers. Dentist-supervised bleaching is a quick and extremely affordable alternative to veneers. It is also suitable for a wide range of patients. By chemically breaking apart stained molecules deposited in the enamel, both in-office and take-home whitening treatments can lighten teeth by up to eight shades.
If your dentist decides that porcelain veneers are not the right treatment for you, there are several other options that can achieve a radiant, natural-looking smile.
The downside of whitening is that it can only address extrinsic stains, such as those caused by coffee, red wine, sodas, or tobacco use. Whitening treatments will not affect tetracycline stains or discoloration caused by trauma or silver dental fillings. Addressing this type of discoloration requires a procedure which actually conceals the tooth, such as bonding or veneers.
In some ways, dental crowns are very similar to veneers. Customized to complement a patient's natural smile, these porcelain caps completely cover the tooth down to the gumline. For a crown to fit properly, your dentist will likely need to remove a significant amount of dental structure. Crowns are an excellent option for patients who have considerable damage affecting the strength or structural integrity of a single tooth. However, for patients who are seeking mainly cosmetic enhancements, veneers are an effective and less invasive option.
While porcelain veneers can conceal minor misalignment, orthodontic treatment is still the best option for patients with severely crooked teeth or malocclusion. Advancements in orthodontics have resulted in a wide range of treatment options beyond traditional metal braces. White or clear brackets, as well tooth-colored arch wires, are available. In addition, clear aligner trays, such as Invisalign® and ClearCorrect®, offer discreet, comfortable treatment. For certain patients, there are also accelerated systems which can straighten teeth in just a few months.
While veneers are an effective and safe treatment, alterations to the structure of your teeth are permanent. Some patients may also find the treatment cost outside their budget. Fortunately, there are a variety of alternatives to porcelain veneers available to you.