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Gilberto Tostado E, DDS, MS, FICD, FPFA

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Cheap cosmetic dentistry: are composite veneers worth it?

Posted by haleighmpk

I chipped one of my upper front teeth last year and my dentist patched it up with some composite bonding. It wasn’t perfect, but it did the job. Lately, however, that tooth has started to look stained and darker than the teeth next to it. I went back to my dentist to see if he could fix the bonded tooth. He said that since all of my upper front teeth are discolored he recommends putting composite veneers on them. He said it would only be about $3,000 to get all eight upper teeth done. I’d like to save money on my treatment if I can, but that sounds a lot cheaper than what I’ve heard veneers normally cost.

Now I’m a little suspicious. Are these composite veneers really a good idea, or is there a reason they cost so much less than other veneers?

– Jim from Arizona

A photograph of a dental veneer showing how thin porcelain veneers are.

We recommend you trust your intuition on this one, Jim.

Some people opt for composite veneers because they are more affordable than traditional porcelain veneers. The lower price makes it easier to improve the appearance of multiple teeth at once.

But you have two good reasons to think twice about getting composite veneers, especially ones that are priced so cheaply:

Reason #1: It takes great skill to make composite veneers that look natural.

While porcelain veneers are crafted outside the mouth in a dental lab and then later bonded to the teeth, composite veneers are built up directly on the surface of the teeth. A cosmetic dentist must be highly skilled in layering composite material so that the outcome is as lifelike as possible. But if your current dentist is charging a low rate for composite veneers, then this could indicate that he is not confident in his ability to deliver the best results. Naturally, you might doubt whether he can do a high quality job on your teeth.

Reason #2: Composite veneers do not last as long as porcelain veneers.

Composite dental material, while durable, is more susceptible to stain and discoloration than porcelain. New composite veneers can look very nice for a few years after they are placed, provided the dentist does a good job. If you avoid smoking and dark-colored foods and brush and floss religiously, then you can minimize stain accumulation on composite veneers. But it is only a matter of time before composite veneers become so discolored that you are obligated to replace them again.

Choosing Between Composite and Porcelain Veneers

At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself:

Is it worth it to save money on your dental veneers by choosing composite even if it means the results may not turn out great?

Are the savings truly worth it when you consider the fact that your composite veneers will need to be replaced every two to three years?

Many patients choose porcelain veneers because they deliver more predictable, lifelike, and long-lasting results and because they are practically immune to stain. Porcelain veneers could last you 20 years or even longer.

Do a little more research before making your decision. Ask your current dentist about how many sets of veneers he has placed so far and ask to see some before-and-after photos of patients he has treated. If you’re still interested in composite veneers and trust your dentist’s skill, then you can safely get them.

But if you want a more lasting solution, you’d be better off seeing a dentist who has a track record of creating beautiful smiles with porcelain veneers.

This post has been published on behalf of Dr. Gilberto Tostado of Corei Dental, a dentist near Douglas, AZ.