You already know that you want a natural-looking, beautiful smile, but when you are considering veneers vs. implants, how should you decide which one is right for you? These two procedures can offer you a shining smile, but they work best for very different conditions. Here’s what you need to know.
Veneers vs. implants: The basics
Both veneers and implants are dental restorations used for better oral health, but that is where the similarities end. At their most basic level, veneers rest on top of your natural tooth (or teeth), while implants become your new tooth, all the way from the root to the crown.
Keep reading for more on each type of restoration.
Dental veneers are a thin shell of material affixed to the front of each tooth (or teeth), giving the natural appearance of bright white teeth.
Whether you have direct veneers (fixed to just one tooth) or indirect veneers (used most often to fix multiple teeth), this cosmetic restoration can quickly change the look of your smile.
If you have stains, cracks, and chips but teeth that are otherwise healthy, veneers may be the best option for you.
In addition, veneers address minor spacing and alignment issues. This can help you avoid braces or, if the issues are so slight, as to eventually make braces unnecessary.
The veneers procedure is simple and can be done in one or two visits. There are a few variations, depending on what material you choose, but in general the first visit is for a consultation and to take a mold of your teeth. Your veneers will be custom-made based on this mold.
When your veneers are ready, your dentist will remove a small amount of tooth material and reshape the tooth if necessary. They’ll then affix the veneer to the tooth with a thin layer of dental cement. Lumineers (a type of veneer) do not require removal of the tooth material at all. They can be simply placed on top of your natural tooth.
Once your bite is checked and adjustments are made, you are ready to go!
You have many options when it comes to the materials you can use for veneers. Dental veneers materials include:
- Feldspathic: Layers of glass-based powder that is hand-formed for a gorgeous, natural look
- Zirconia: Made from zirconium oxide and also used for dental crowns
- Lumineers: A specific type of veneer that consists of thin sheets of porcelain
- e-Max: Molded and pressed porcelain veneers
- Composite: Made of composite resin
The appearance of each type of veneer varies. Feldspathic veneers are beautiful and luminous, while zirconia veneers are more opaque for people with darker stains to cover.
Lumineers may feel thicker because there is no tooth removed to affix them, but they can provide a natural look for patients. As with all veneers, the appearance of e-Max veneers and composite resin veneers will depend on the skill and experience of the dentist applying them, but in general they are both less natural-looking than the other choices.
With proper care, most dental veneers can last between five and 20 years. On the other hand, composite resin veneers last just two to five years.
There are also a few factors that will shorten the life of your veneers (more on that in pros and cons below).
As in many other things, the saying rings true with dental veneers: you get what you pay for. The most natural-looking and longest-lasting veneers (feldspathic and zirconia veneers) cost the most. Costs will vary depending on your location, the experience and skill of your dentist, and other factors.
On the low end, composite resin veneers may only set you back a few hundred dollars per tooth. Keep in mind, though, that these veneers are not designed to last for longer than a few years. The price may not be worth the inconvenience or cost of replacing them every other year.
Pros and cons
The pros of veneers are simple: the procedure is less invasive, and the cosmetic outcome is great.
Veneers are not without cons, though. Decay can get underneath improperly applied veneers cause additional problems. Other cons include:
- Chipped veneers may require replacement
- Bruxism, nail biting, and using your teeth as tools can shorten the life of veneers
- Veneers can also become stained
Dental implants completely replace a tooth from the root to the crown. It usually consists of three parts: the implant, a metal anchored post that eventually fuses with jawbone, the prosthetic crown, and the abutment that connects implant to prosthetic.
Due to its strong support, this long-lasting restoration can be used in any area of the mouth, from your front teeth to chewing surfaces in the back of the mouth.
Dental implants often help when the underlying natural tooth is beyond saving.
This may be due to advanced tooth decay or lack of tooth material to attach a crown. They can also replace missing teeth anywhere in the mouth and can be placed one at a time or in a group.
The procedure for dental implants varies depending on the type of implant. There are three main types of implants:
- Mini dental implants
- All-on-4 implants
- Full mouth implants
Generally, each of these will require a surgical procedure to place the titanium post. Full mouth and all-on-4 implants require a healing period to let the bone bond to the implant before the crowns are screwed on. Mini-dental implants can be done in one procedure.
The post and screw portion of the dental implant is most often titanium. Titanium is well-tolerated in the body and does not usually cause a reaction (even for people who are sensitive to metals).
The crown portion can be any material that a dental crown would be made of, from porcelain to gold. The durability and appearance of the crown will vary depending on the material you choose, so take care to understand your options before you make your selection.
As noted above, the appearance of your dental implants will vary depending on the crown material. Layered zirconia implants are an excellent, light-reflecting choice for front teeth, while their solid counterparts provide a sturdier surface for chewing in back molars.
Talk to your dentist about what you can expect in terms of color matching your natural teeth and your overall final result.
Many dentists consider dental implants to be a lifetime dental procedure – they are just that strong. This does depend on the material of the crown and the skill of the dentist who performs the implants.
Generally speaking, you can expect a well-placed and properly-healed dental implant to last you a couple decades or more.
It’s easier not to sugar coat it: dental implants can cost a pretty penny. But considering that you could get 20 or more years out of one dental restoration that improves your oral health, the price tag may be more manageable.
The price comes down significantly per tooth with multiple implants, and your dental insurance might even help you out.
Pros and cons
The main con of dental implants is the invasive nature of the procedure. If you struggle with a dental phobia or worry about pain, deciding to have multiple dental procedures can be challenging.
But in the end, dental implants improve the health of your jaw and function just like natural teeth. They are strong, beautiful, and long-lasting.
Find your Arizona dentist for a more beautiful smile
It can be difficult to decide which restoration is best for you, but there is help. When it comes to veneers vs. implants, the deciding factor is what type of condition you need to treat in the first place.
If you are still stuck comparing dental procedures, get in touch with AZ Dentist today. We can help you decide which one is best for your beautiful smile!