Bonding and Veneers: Which one do I choose?

Bonding and Veneers: Which one do I choose? People looking to improve their smile are generally presented with two different options if the color of their teeth is not the only thing they would like to see changed.

One option is called bonding, a generic term used to describe the application of tooth-colored resins to the outside of the teeth to change the shape and/or alignment of the teeth, and sometimes alter the color. Bonding is a very cost effective method for making those type changes; however, it’s not long-lasting, and you can expect maybe 5 years of service before the bonding needs replacement due to chipping, wear, or staining.

The other common option is called a porcelain veneer.  A porcelain veneer is a thin ceramic veneer that provides partial coverage of a tooth – usually the front and edge of the tooth.  It is bonded to the outside of the tooth. In some situations, some tooth removal may be required before a porcelain veneer can be placed on a tooth. However, some situations exist where no tooth removal ay be necessary, such as with Lumineers Vivaneers. or “thin veneers”.

Generally porcelain veneers last a very long time, they have the most predictability and look the most lifelike.  The reason they look the most lifelike is the texture and color gradation and different elements of translucency and opacity can be built into the porcelain veneers to make them look like the real teeth.  With bonding generally we are working with monochromatic or single colors – however we can work with using multiple colors of bonding materials to achieve a result that is similar to, but not the same as, a porcelain veneer.  Again, the main issue with bonding is that of life expectancy or longevity. In terms of bonding, the other main issue is the ability to polish the tooth.  With bonding we are not able to achieve the gloss and life-like look that we can achieve with the porcelain veneer.

There is a difference in the cost of the veneer and the bonding.  Many times the cost of a veneer is the same as a crown or a “cap”.  Veneers typically need to be completed in a “set” of 6 to 8 for the sake of esthetics, so it can be quite costly to do that. However, veneers can be one of the most life-changing experiences for a person by giving them the confidence of a smile that they always wanted.

Despite their cost, I’ve never had a patient come back after having had veneers completed and say “Gosh I wish that I hadn’t spent all of that money”.  In fact they don’t even remember what it costs, but the effect that it has on their personality, even their job and relationships are very amazing.  We love to see the smiling faces when people come back from situations like that.