When striving for a beautiful smile, many people choose veneers. Veneers are thin pieces of resin or porcelain that are permanently attached to the front surfaces of one or more teeth. They cover up imperfections, creating a straight, bright smile.
Resin-composite is the most affordable material, costing about $400 to $2,000 per tooth. Porcelain veneers cost between $900 and $2,500 per tooth. Our research found cosmetic dentists with celebrity clients who charge as much as $4,000 per tooth!
While porcelain veneers are more expensive, they usually last about twice as long as composite. Resin-composite may need to be replaced in about 7 years. Porcelain often lasts more than 15 years.
Because they are cosmetic, veneers are almost never covered by insurance. But for those who decide they might be worth pursuing, a good place to start is learning what they are and what problems they solve. If they are a good option, there are some ways to bring down the cost.
What Can Veneers Fix?
Much like false fingernails, veneers give teeth an entirely new surface. They are formed to look and feel just like natural teeth while covering up all types of flaws:
Damage. Veneers can cover teeth that are chipped, cracked, or broken. In many cases, the repair might only be necessary on one tooth.
Discoloration. Some tooth stains can not be removed, especially when the source of discoloration is hereditary or caused by medical conditions or medicines. When even the most powerful professional whitening methods will not work, veneers can create a bright, white surface.
Gaps. Veneers can bridge spaces between teeth, by making the surface area a bit wider than the natural tooth. This might be a good option for teeth that are already fairly straight or those where orthodontia hasn’t completely closed the gaps.
Irregular shapes. Small, pointed, or worn-down teeth can be corrected with veneers.
Veneers are a great solution for issues involving the surface of the tooth. A tooth that is severely damaged, decayed, or has a lot of prior restoration work might need a different fix.
Crowns enclose an entire tooth, while veneers cover only the front-facing side. If the tooth’s structure is not healthy, the dentist will usually recommend a crown instead of a veneer. Crowns are common after a root canal procedure when an infection has spread to the core of the tooth. Even if a root canal is not necessary, a tooth with a very large filling might not be able to support a veneer. It is best to cap the tooth entirely with a crown for better stability and to seal out future decay.
The Steps to Getting Veneers
Getting veneers is a three-part process that takes a few weeks and a minimum of two visits to the dentist.
At the first visit, the dentist takes impressions of the teeth, x-rays, and photos. The veneers are crafted in a lab based on the impressions and images, to create a custom fit for the patient’s teeth. Because of differences in skin tone and hair color, the same shade of veneers will not work for everyone. The dentist will discuss color choices that will look the most natural for the patient.
At the next appointment, the patient receives a local anesthetic. The dentist prepares the tooth or teeth by removing a small amount of the tooth enamel. Patients are sent home with temporary veneers fitted over their teeth. These protect the exposed enamel and allow the patient to eat and drink until the permanent veneers are ready.
After about two weeks, the patient returns to the dentist. After cleaning and polishing, the veneers are attached to the teeth using bonding cement, again, using a local anesthetic.
As with any dental procedure, patients will have some initial discomfort and sensitivity. Within a few days, most patients feel fine and are ready to start enjoying their new smile.
Reducing What Veneers Cost
Patients can opt for resin composite instead of porcelain to save some money. Remember, though, that porcelain lasts longer. It is a good idea to consider the value and durability as opposed to the cost alone.
Another way to reduce the cost of veneers is to get them on fewer teeth. This is easy if the issue is a simple chip or crack. But even if the goal is for overall cosmetic impact, consider covering only the teeth that are easily seen. Unless there is damage to fix, there is no advantage to getting veneers on molars. Many patients do only their front teeth, and often only those on top.
Say a patient decides to get veneers on their six most visible teeth. That still adds up to anywhere between $2,400 and $15,000!
This is obviously a significant investment, but for many, the results are worth it. There are other ways to reduce the cost of this or any cosmetic procedure. Here are some things to consider:
- Ask the dentist about a payment plan.
- Look for coupons or special discounts (military, veteran, student, etc.)
- Consider a dental credit card (but be sure to read the fine print).
- Enroll in a company HSA (Health Savings Account) or FSA (Flexible Spending Account).
- Visit a dental school.
- Travel to another city or state where veneers are less expensive.
Deciding to Invest in Veneers
When considering the materials and a dentist’s level of experience and expertise, it is not a surprise that veneers come with a hefty price tag. And prices on all kinds of things—homes, hotels, gas, restaurants—vary greatly in different regions across the country. Dental procedures like implants, crowns, and veneers are no different.
But for those wanting the natural look and feel that veneers provide, the expense is worth it. First, visit a dentist to see if veneers are a good option for your teeth’s imperfections. Then, use our online tool to find a cosmetic dentist and start comparing rates for your new and improved smile.