Teeth Whitening vs. Veneers: Which is Best?

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When it comes to cosmetic dentistry, there are a variety of treatments to improve the look of your smile. However two of the most common treatments are teeth whitening and porcelain veneers. Both of these treatments offer slightly different minimally-invasive methods to improve the aesthetics of your smile. Because of this, many people often find themselves unsure of which treatment to pick. When making this decision, it is important to carefully consider each individual treatment, as well as your cosmetic goals and dental needs in order to make the best decision. 

Teeth Whitening

woman being color matched for whitening treatment

Teeth whitening is such a common treatment that it is available both over the counter and as a professional treatment. While the over the counter treatments can be effective, only professional teeth whitening procedures can yield dramatic, instant results. Not to mention they are performed by a dental professional, so there is a lower risk of complications. During an in-office whitening treatment, your dentist will brush a whitener onto the surface of your teeth and leave it in place for around 30-60 minutes. In some cases, whitening trays or lights may also be used. As the whitener sits on the surface of your teeth, it will eventually be absorbed into the enamel and dentin layers, where it will break down discolored molecules to whiten your teeth. 

Professional teeth whitening procedures are the most common cosmetic dental treatment because they are affordable, effective, and easy. In as little as a single dental appointment, whitening treatments can brighten your smile by 5-10 shades. However, teeth whitening procedures are not effective against certain types of stains, so your results may vary. Additionally, the results of teeth whitening are not permanent since diet and oral hygiene habits will continue to expose your teeth to colored pigments. As such, you will generally need to repeat whitening treatments annually to maintain your results. 

Porcelain Veneers

porcelain veneer being applied to tooth

Porcelain veneers is another highly common cosmetic procedure second only to teeth whitening. Veneers are a type of indirect restoration that is custom-fabricated by a dental lab before being adhered to the surface of your teeth. These thin, porcelain shells are generally placed over the front side of visible teeth in order to conceal cosmetic imperfections and improve the appearance of your smile. 

Since a dental lab is required, dental veneers generally take a minimum of two appointments to complete. During the first appointment a thin layer of enamel will be removed to make space for the veneers. They, a dental impression or oral scan will be taken and sent to the lab. Until the dental lab has finished the permanent veneers, you will be fit with a set of temporary veneers. 

Many people elect to have veneers placed because they can fix a variety of cosmetic concerns all at once. Having veneers placed can change the size, shape, spacing, alignment, and color of your teeth. Unlike teeth whitening, veneers are also effective against concealing stubborn stains that are not responsive to whitening treatments. However, veneers do have a downside as well. For starters, they are considered a permanent treatment since they alter the tooth enamel. They also require multiple appointments for placement and have a higher upfront cost when compared to whitening treatments. 

As you can see, both cosmetic treatments offer slightly different methods to improve the appearance of your smile. These slight differences in their method, benefits, and drawbacks must all be carefully considered to determine which option is the right choice for you. Additionally, it may be helpful to schedule a consultation with your local cosmetic dentist in order to discuss these options further and get a professional opinion. 

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