While teeth whitening can usually be counted on to make some color change in the shade of a person's teeth one of its disadvantages is that it will not produce a lightening effect on any dental work that is present (fillings, crowns, etc...). Additionally, whatever teeth whitening effect is achieved will have a tendency to fade with time.
The term "dental bonding" can refer to a number of related dental techniques. In general, after a tooth's surface has been properly prepared, a white colored dental filling material is bonded onto the tooth. Dental bonding might be utilized as a way to improve the appearance of a cosmetic defect found on the surface of a tooth, to replace tooth structure that has chipped away or broken, or to repair damage caused by tooth decay. At an extreme, this technique can be used to resurface the entire front side of a tooth so to improve its cosmetic appearance.
As a benefit, when compared with the other cosmetic dentistry techniques reviewed on this page dental bonding can be relatively inexpensive and is usually a "completed in one visit" type dental procedure. As a disadvantage, dental bonding material has a tendency to stain as time passes and in general isn't as lasting or durable a treatment as other cosmetic dental procedures. However, and one more point in the plus column, if dental bonding does chip or break it can usually be easily patched or repaired.
A porcelain veneer is a thin shell of porcelain that is bonded onto the front surface of a tooth so to improve its cosmetic appearance. We review the process of placing porcelain veneers in detail on the pages of our Porcelain Veneer topic.
A porcelain veneer can be an ideal way to make a cosmetic change for a tooth. Compared to dental bonding, porcelain veneers usually look more life like and they have the added benefit of resisting staining well. As a disadvantage, porcelain veneers are typically fairly expensive and if used in the wrong application can be prone to breaking. Unlike dental bonding, if a porcelain veneer has broken typically the whole veneer must be replaced. It usually cannot be patched or repaired.
Dental crowns can provide the same sort of major cosmetic changes that porcelain veneers can make. However, unlike porcelain veneers that only cover over the front sides of teeth, dental crowns cup over and encase the entire aspect of a tooth which lies above the gum line. The pages of our Dental Crowns topic discuss this type of dental treatment in detail.
In comparison to porcelain veneers, dental crowns are stronger and more durable but because making one involves trimming away a significant amount of tooth structure they usually aren't the best choice for making a cosmetic change for a tooth, unless the tooth also requires the non-cosmetic benefits the crown can provide. Like porcelain veneers, there is typically a fair amount of cost involved when dental crowns are made.
Comparing the longevity of cosmetic dental work.
We would like to mention that some of the cosmetic changes you might choose to make with your teeth could have very long lasting consequences. Please realize that no dental work will last forever. This is especially true when cosmetics are a primary consideration.
While a disadvantage of any teeth whitening process is that its effects will fade with time, a benefit of whitening in general is that as a process it makes no structural changes to a tooth. At some point in the future you can decide to or decide not to under go the teeth whitening process again. Either choice is entirely optional and this leeway may make teeth whitening the best solution for your cosmetic needs.
To the contrary, having porcelain veneers or dental crowns placed means that there will always need to be a porcelain veneer or dental crown on the tooth. So, if a crown or veneer comes off, breaks, or just deteriorates from a standpoint of its appearance, another crown or veneer will need to be made. (You will have to ask your dentist for details regarding your specific situation but in general this applies to dental bonding as well.)
Everybody likes a nice shiny car but a prudent person will also take into account the maintenance that will be required, so to keep the car nice and shiny and running properly. Don't just be sold a bill of goods. Ask your dentist about the cosmetic changes they can offer but also ask about their expectations for the longevity of the treatment. Ask what solutions will be available to you at that point in time when original cosmetics of the dental work has deteriorated.
Our cosmetic dentistry makeover simulations.
With each of the makeover simulation cases listed below we provide text that describes the various types of cosmetic dentistry techniques a dentist might utilize so to make the appearance changes we have illustrated. You do need to realize however that our "armchair" cosmetic dentistry treatment plans have been developed by way of just reviewing a photograph. It would only be after a dentist had performed a thorough examination that a definitive cosmetic dentistry treatment plan, one best for the person's precise situation, could be developed.