3 Affordable Cosmetic Dentistry Options and Alternatives to Veneers
Having beautiful teeth is more than just a confidence booster; research conducted by health care giant Bupa shows that our smiles play a key role in “the initial visual impression we each create” during job interviews, meetings, and at corporate presentations. Those with an attractive smile are read as being more confident, competent, and leadership-oriented—in short, they are more likely to be hired and promoted than their dentally-challenged peers.
Alas, if you haven’t already climbed the corporate ladder, you know that finding affordable cosmetic dentistry options can feel like an insurmountable hurdle; many insurance policies offer only limited coverage of cosmetic procedures as they are deemed non-necessary. Fortunately, there are a few procedures available that can make a big difference in the appearance of your smile without breaking the bank; these include:
Affordable Cosmetic Dentistry Option 1: Tooth Whitening
Tooth whitening options range in price from a few dollars (whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes) to professional whitening treatments at around $650 for a complete overall bleaching. In between these two extremes there are numerous “take home” kits that costs from about $100-$400. Tooth whitening generally relies on the use of bleach (typically hydrogen peroxide) to lift stains from badly discoloured teeth.
Which option you choose will depend on your budget, but it’s important to understand that the results attained by home bleaching kits can be extremely unpredictable; likewise, if these kits are not used properly you may damage your teeth or irritate your mouth (you will be working with bleach, after all). As such, it’s generally better to stick to whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes if you have only moderate whitening needs or a very limited budget; if you require more extensive whitening services, ask your dentist for assistance before experimenting with take-home kits.
Affordable Cosmetic Dentistry Option 2: Tooth Bonding
Cosmetic tooth bonding is the process of applying a tooth-coloured resin to the surface of damaged, discoloured, or crooked teeth in order to correct their appearance (as opposed to restorative tooth bonding, wherein this same resin is used to fill in cavities created by tooth decay). Cosmetic bonding is a quick, easy, and usually painless procedure; if no cavities are being filled during your bonding treatment, you will not even require an injection of anaesthetic: Your dentist will simply prepare the composite resin, ensuring that it’s a good match for your existing teeth, apply it, and then set it with a high-intensity curing light.
Due to the ease of this procedure, cosmetic bonding is relatively inexpensive—while at the same time being able to make a huge difference in the appearance of your smile. Expect to pay from $100 to $400 per tooth, depending on the size and complexity of the bonding operation.
There is, however, one caveat to be aware of where tooth bonding is concerned: Composite resin is not quite as strong as natural tooth enamel, so you’ll want to treat your teeth more gently after the resin has been applied. Avoid bad habits like chewing on pens or using your teeth to open bottles, etc.
Affordable Cosmetic Dentistry Option 3: Tooth Contouring
If you need to make just a few minor changes to your teeth, such as smoothing away small chips or filing down obtrusive points, dental contouring is probably the best option for you. “Tooth reshaping and dental contouring are cosmetic dentistry procedures that deal with subtle changes to the teeth,” explains Kimberly Harms, DDS, consumer advisor and spokesperson for the American Dental Association, “But sometimes little changes can make a big difference.”
To create these changes, your dentist will gently shave away a small amount of enamel in the areas where reshaping needs to occur (note that you may wish to combine this procedure with bonding, depending on how much enamel needs to be removed, to build the tooth back up into a more flattering shape and protect the underlying dentin). This procedure is painless, requiring no anaesthetic, and it is generally quite inexpensive as well. For simple modifications you will likely only pay about $50 per tooth (more complex sculpting procedures may set you back up to $300, however, so make sure to discuss your options with your dentist thoroughly beforehand).
As a final note, it’s important to be aware that if the damage you wish to correct via contouring or bonding occurred as the result of an accident of some kind (e.g., you chipped a tooth during a vehicle accident), you may be able to get your insurance to cover a portion of the procedure, so read over your policy thoroughly before proceeding. If you’re in luck, your cosmetic procedure will be quick, easy, painless, and cost next to nothing… Now there’s something to smile about.