Whitening can only change the color of the teeth and can change the appearance of the teeth by adjusting more details such as the shape and color at the same time. The color of the veneers would be permanent; you won’t have to worry about the color fading or getting stained. Yes, you can change the color as well, by doing whitening, but the results are somewhat unpredictable. We do not know exactly how much whiter your teeth can get. The whiteness will gradually fade away after teeth whitening, and you might want to redo the whitening process multiple times to obtain the whiteness you desire.
If you are satisfied with your teeth shape, size, alignment, and the positions, and your only concern is the color, it might be a good idea to try teeth whitening. The cost of teeth whitening is much less than veneers, and of course, there is no shaving off the teeth. You may need to repeat the process when you notice the color changing or even before a big event. There are two methods to complete the whitening process, In-office bleaching or Take-home tray. A bleaching gel that is used in both techniques is the same, but different percentages. Results are very similar; although the take home tray is a longer process. In our office, when you do the in-office whitening, we also make the take home tray for you, and you can use it any time when you want to touch up. There is also over the counter whitening strips; the only disadvantage for this is that the gel does not stay on the teeth long enough. However, in some younger patients, it works very well.
When you want to change details such as shape, length, proportion, and the alignment of the teeth, you would need veneers. With veneers, you can pick the desired color that suits your taste, without worrying about the color changing. Veneers are made out of a durable, thin shell-like porcelain and bonded on your teeth. Lab technicians custom make veneers out of the impression that they receive from the dentist. Therefore, teeth veneers vary in shape, size, and color. To create the smile of your dreams, we usually do about eight veneers on the upper. Because most patients want to brighten their smile, I recommend that eight veneers get done instead of six. When only six surfaces get done, the six stand out, making the next tooth “less visible,” giving the impression of only having six teeth. Once we add two more, all the veneers continue the natural look all the way to the back. If you have lovely canines, and to brighten your teeth is not a significant concern, we may suggest only doing four teeth. We can always make upper veneers whiter than the lower teeth without making your smile look unnatural. The reason why is because lower front teeth do not show as much, and it is natural to have whiter teeth on the upper. In most of our cases, we do not have to do the lower teeth.
There are about three types of veneers. Regular veneers, non-prep or minimum prep veneers, and direct veneers.
1. Direct veneers:
Direct veneers are uncommon dental veneer. We do not need a lab technician, and the dentist will do the whole thing in your mouth. It is very minimal prep. However, it is not porcelain, but it is a composite (bonding). We can do what regular or the non-prep veneers can do, but this could get stained over time because the direct veneers aren’t made of porcelain. Chair time is very long, but if it chips or breaks, it is fixable. Cost of the direct veneers is less than lab processed veneers.
2. No-prep or minimum prep veneers:
No prep veneer is a lab processed veneer and made out of porcelain. To try to save the tooth structure as much as we can, we make very minimum or no tooth reduction, and place super thin veneers on top of your teeth and bond them. The disadvantage of this method is, the tooth gets bulky or big and unnatural, sometimes very opaque in color and may look like a temporary. We can only do this method successfully when you have tiny teeth and do not need to change the teeth color too much. In my office, I always want to make minimum tooth reduction. When we do eight veneers, where some teeth are tiny or positioned backward, I can do minimum prep on those teeth while other teeth that need to be smaller, I need to prep more. In general, out of eight teeth some I can do minimum prep and others we need to do regular prep. It is not frequent that we can do all eight teeth with minimum prep. Lumineers are the non-prep veneers, but they tend to get a bulky and opaque color with the restoration.
3. Regular Veneers:
Regular veneer is the most common dental veneer. It is also lab processed the same way as non-prep or minimum prep veneers. We need a 0.5 -0.7 mm tooth reduction to avoid the bulky appearance. We can also make the color translucent to make them life-like. In my office, when I do 8 -10 veneers it is always a mixture of minimum prep veneers and regular veneers depending on the teeth and your desire or the goal. The cost of these regular veneers ranges from $800 to $2500 per veneer. Cost of the regular veneer might go up depending on the dentist’s and lab technician’s experience, credentials, and artistic ability.