Which cosmetic dental treatment is right for you? 

Your smile is vital to your everyday sense of self-confidence and well-being. That’s why cosmetic smile imperfections—like cracks, chips, unevenness, discoloration, or staining—can put a damper on your authentic self-expression and sense of self-esteem. Fortunately, you have treatment choices when it comes to correcting cosmetic complaints in order to reclaim your smile’s beauty and radiance like the so-called cosmetic tooth bonding, lumineers, etc. 

So which cosmetic dental treatment is right for you, your smile, and your needs?   

While a trip to your cosmetic dentist is the best way to understand what treatment is the best option to transform your teeth, here’s what you need to know about three of cosmetic dentistry’s greatest stars: cosmetic tooth bonding, porcelain veneers, and lumineers. 

What is cosmetic tooth bonding? 

Cosmetic tooth bonding (also referred to as composite bonding or composite veneers) is a simple, affordable, and non-invasive cosmetic dental treatment that can be used to add height to a tooth or correct cracks, chips, discoloration, and minor gaps between the teeth. 

During a cosmetic bonding treatment, your dentist will accurately match composite resin to the shade of your teeth. If needed, your dentist will microscopically etch the surface of the targeted teeth with a conditioning liquid to create the best grip between your teeth and the composite resin. Finally, your dentist will expertly and artistically layer, mold, shape, and smooth the composite resin onto your teeth, which will be set with an ultraviolet curing light and polished to create a tooth-like sheen. 

As the composite resin dries, it will bond to the enamel of your teeth and create a long-lasting and natural-looking cosmetic restoration. Cosmetic bonding can often be completed in a single visit, taking approximately 30 to 60 minutes per tooth. As treatment requires no preparation or laboratory fees, cosmetic bonding is the most affordable option for correcting minor cosmetic complaints. 

Cosmetic bonding is most vulnerable to staining in the first 48 hours after application while the porous resin completely sets. You can prevent staining and increase the longevity of your treatment with routine dental visits, great oral hygiene, and moderation of tooth-staining foods, drinks, and habits, such as coffee, tea, wine, sodas, tobacco, and smoking. When properly maintained, a cosmetic bonding treatment can last for five to 10 years, after which the bonding may need to be replaced. 

What are porcelain veneers? 

Porcelain veneers are wafer-thin porcelain shells that are custom-made to encase the front surface of targeted teeth in order to whiten your smile and correct stains, discoloration, unevenness, crookedness, chips, cracks, gaps, tooth length, and a “gummy” smile. As treatment can effectively address so many cosmetic complaints, porcelain veneers can completely transform and beautify your smile’s entire appearance. 

After an initial consultation, a porcelain veneer treatment is usually completed in just two appointments over the course of two to four weeks. During your first appointment, your dentist will remove a thin layer (approximately 5 mm) of enamel from the front surface of the targeted teeth to make space for your porcelain veneers and then take impressions of your teeth. These impressions will be sent to a specialized laboratory, which will use your dentist’s detailed instructions to custom-craft your porcelain veneers. In the meantime, you’ll wear temporary veneers that will protect your teeth while allowing you to see how your new smile will take shape. 

At your next appointment, you’ll take one last look at your former smile and open wide to your new beginning. You’ll receive local anesthesia before your dentist refines the shade and fit of your freshly made veneers. Your dental team will then clean, polish, and lightly etch the surface of your teeth. Finally, your dentist will securely bond each veneer in place, make any final adjustments and finishing touches, and send you out the door with a healthy, beautiful, and fully functional new smile. 

Given porcelain’s durability and the strong bond between your veneers and your teeth, porcelain veneers often last at least 10 to 15 years before a replacement is needed. Though the price point is higher than cosmetic bonding and lumineers, the quality and longevity of porcelain veneers creates a cost-effective return on investment. 

Porcelain veneers are strong and resistant to staining and require the same care as your natural teeth. Brush and floss daily; see your dentist twice annually; moderate your intake of sugar, alcohol, and coffee; don’t chew on ice—you get the idea. If you have a history of grinding or clenching your teeth (known as bruxism), your dentist will prescribe a custom night guard to protect your new smile from undue stress. If one of your veneers does happen to chip or break, your dentist will replace it, and you’ll go back to enjoying your flawless porcelain veneer treatment. 

What are lumineers? 

A porcelain veneer system that’s been on the market for over 30 years,  lumineers, also known as no-prep veneers, are an ultra-thin (0.2 mm) version of porcelain veneers. Lumineers are similar to cosmetic bonding in that they require little to no tooth preparation. 

Like traditional porcelain veneers, lumineers can also whiten your smile and correct stains, discoloration, chips, misshapes, gaps, and moderate crookedness. Additionally, lumineers can be placed over existing porcelain crowns or bridgework to fix minor damage or improve their shade. The difference between porcelain veneers and lumineers comes down to thickness. As no enamel is removed prior to application, a lumineer treatment may appear slightly thicker than your natural teeth or a conventional porcelain veneer treatment.     

After an initial consultation, your dentist will first remove an ultra-thin layer of enamel from the front surface of the targeted teeth (if needed) before taking digital impressions that will be sent to a dental laboratory that specializes in lumineers. Once your lumineers are ready in two to four weeks’ time, the process is similar to porcelain veneers, except your teeth will not be etched before application. After your dentist has refined and bonded your lumineers to your freshly cleaned and polished teeth, you’ll leave your appointment with the whiter, brighter, and more even smile you’ve always wanted to achieve.

Like porcelain veneers, your lumineers are durable and resistant to staining and can last up to 20 years before they need replacing. Maintaining your lumineers’ strength and beauty is just like caring for natural teeth and porcelain veneers and includes visiting the dentist twice annually, maintaining great oral hygiene, wearing a night guard in cases of bruxism, and choosing diet and lifestyle habits that support the health of your mouth and teeth. 

No matter what your cosmetic dental concerns, Dr. K is here to help you find a treatment that aligns with your smile goals, budget, and individual needs. To learn how the right cosmetic dental treatment can help you achieve a whiter, brighter, and more even smile, contact us at Triangle Family Dentistry to schedule your cosmetic consultation today