Porcelain Veneers Cost Guide

Have you ever wondered how your favorite Hollywood celebrities seem to have pearly white teeth and perfectly beautiful smiles? Believe it or not, most of those people beautiful that you see on billboards, in magazines, or on your TV or mobile phone screens aren’t born with those red-carpet-ready smiles. The majority of them (if not all of them) owe their gorgeous set of teeth to cosmetic dentistry. One of the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedures out there is dental veneers, particularly porcelain veneers. But is veneer placement for everyone? More importantly, how much do porcelain veneers cost?

Before you dive deep into the cost of getting this cosmetic procedure, it would be wise to have a good understanding of what it is exactly and how it works. Here’s a quick note about veneers.

What is a dental veneer?

Popularly known as “smile makeover” a dental veneer is an ultra-thin, tooth-colored shell that mimics the look of natural teeth. It can be made up of either porcelain or composite resin and is attached and permanently bonded over the front surface of an existing tooth. They are widely used to improve smile appearance by fixing cosmetic dental problems; plus they are durable and need little-to-no removal of tooth structure as compared to crowns.

While veneers are considered cosmetic procedures, they are largely used for treating and correcting a wide range of dental issues worn tooth enamel, tooth discoloration, spacing problem, uneven alignment, chips, or cracks. Moreover, since they are attached to the exterior of the teeth, they also boast protective qualities that can eliminate the need for extensive and often expensive orthodontic treatments.

Whatever the cause of the dental problem, veneers can solve most dental issues, including:

  • Worn enamel – usually caused by too much consumption of sweet foods and beverages
  • Teeth discoloration – caused by drinking dark beverages like coffee, tea, and smoking or certain medications
  • Wear and tear – aged teeth chip, crack, or are generally uneven due to wear and tear
  • Uneven teeth – can result from jaw clenching, teeth grinding, and general wear and tear
  • Genetics – some people are pre-disposed to have abnormal spacing between their teeth that widens with age

Some people may only need one veneer, such as those with broken or chipped teeth. For more even and straighter sets of teeth, however, such as those you see in Hollywood celebrities, cosmetic dentists use six to eight veneers. Usually, veneers are used on the top front eight teeth.

Different types of veneers

Different types of veneers have a different costs. There are two basic types of veneers being used by dentists right now, porcelain veneers and composite veneers. While both require intensive prep work, porcelain is always more expensive than composite resin. However, there is also a new type of veneer used by some dentists that require no prep work and can be applied using a different process. This entry will focus on the traditional and time-tested types – porcelain and composite resin.

The application of traditional veneers typically requires grinding down of the tooth structure. Some cases may require removing some teeth, even past the enamel. This allows the proper placement of the veneers and makes them look natural. However, these procedures are irreversible and often painful, which is why they often require a local anesthetic.

The reduction of the tooth depends on the number of teeth involved and a number of veneers to be used. For cases that require multiple veneers, a dentist may require the wax model to show how the veneers will look after the procedure.

No-prep veneers, however, require some tooth preparation or simple alterations, but they are mostly minimal.

Porcelain veneers

The process usually starts with grinding down the teeth and making an impression of the teeth to create a mold. The dentist will then send the mold out to a lab where the porcelain veneer will be made. Temporary veneers can be used while waiting for the permanent veneers from the lab. Once the veneers are ready, the dentist will then place and cement them over the tooth.

Other dentists use CAD/CAM technology to design and make actual veneers right in their dental offices.

Composite resin veneers

To do a composite resin veneer, the dentist will etch the surface of the teeth before applying the veneer to the tooth. Additional layers of the composite may be needed to achieve the intended results. To finish off, the dentist will then use a special light to cure and harden the composite resin veneer.

Non-prep veneers

Specific brands of porcelain veneers like Lumineers and Vivaneers are non-prep veneers. They can be attached to the tooth right at the first visit, which means the procedure takes less time. Also, they are far less invasive than traditional veneers and don’t require local anesthetics and temporary veneers.

However, non-prep veneers are not as cost-effective, since they are not as long-lasting and as natural-looking as porcelain.

Why opt for porcelain veneers over composite veneers

Porcelain veneers are far more durable and can last twice as long as composite veneers. Moreover, porcelain is far less susceptible to chipping, and breaking, which means less additional cost for repairs and replacements needed.

Also, porcelain is far more stain-resistant. This means even if you get the maximum life out of your veneers, they will still look as good and clean.

More importantly, in terms of looks, porcelain is the closest thing to natural teeth. This means porcelain veneers will look natural in your mouth.

Cost of veneers

Before you read further, understand that in most cases, since it is categorized as a cosmetic procedure, veneers are not covered by insurance.

The average porcelain veneers cost is around $925 and $2,500 per tooth. Composite veneers are generally more affordable, as it costs around $400 to $2,000 per tooth.

The cost of veneers however, depends on a lot of factors, such as the type of veneer, brand, location (your area’s cost of living), dentist’s expertise, etc. Here are other factors that affect veneer cost.

  • Artistic and technical expertise of the ceramist (the one making the veneers)
  • Reputation, expertise, and experience of the cosmetic dentist and fees of his/her clinic
  • The location
  • Dental insurance (most dental insurance do not cover cosmetic procedures like veneers)
  • Material used (porcelain versus composite veneer)
  • Number of teeth that will be treated

Since each patient is unique and each case is different, lots of times the dentist may have to make special accommodations to address the unique circumstances of the patient. This may mean extra prep work, such as dental contouring, which can add up to the overall cost of the procedure.

While it seems more practical to go for the cheaper type of veneer (composite), you should remember that composite is inferior to porcelain when it comes to durability.

Other factors that can affect the cost of the cosmetic procedure:

  • Damaged teeth – Tooth structure with significant damage may require the use of crown instead of veneers. Unlike veneers which are thin shells placed directly over the tooth, crowns are more like a cap the covers the entire tooth to provide structural support. This type of restorative procedure costs $1,500 on average. Fortunately, many dental insurance companies cover this procedure of up to 50%.
  • Tooth decay – Teeth with any degree of decay will be removed. This is because the veneer will not protect the decaying tooth from decaying further. Depending on the severity of the condition, the dentist may recommend the use of antibiotics, root planning and scaling, or even surgical intervention. All of these different procedures come at a cost.

Porcelain veneer cost – the treatment plan

The average porcelain veneer costs around $1,500 per tooth, but this is usually for the whole procedure.

The entire procedure includes multiple visits to the dentists. Obviously, the more veneers you need the more visits to the dentist’s clinic it requires. And this adds up to the cost.

The process starts with an initial consultation. This is where the dentist will get an impression of your teeth, and get photos and x-ray images of your mouth and teeth in order to understand and customize the procedure for you.

Following this, you will return to your dentist to prepare your teeth for the veneers. This could mean the removal of enamel from your teeth to fit the veneers.

In your next and final appointment, your dentist will clean and polish your teeth before bonding and curing the porcelain veneers to your existing teeth.

It is important to note that porcelain veneers are not designed for significantly fractured, decaying, and weak teeth. They are only for healthy teeth with aesthetic imperfections. This is why the dentist will need to check your teeth thoroughly using x-rays to determine the health of your existing teeth.

Cost of getting a full set of veneers

A full set of dental veneers means eight veneers. This kind of dental procedure is specifically designed for cosmetic, and not a structural solution. Thus, a full set of veneer is reserved for the most prominent and visible teeth on your upper jaw, lateral and central incisors, canines, and the first premolars.

The cost for full-mouth porcelain veneers varies depending on the condition of the teeth and the amount of prep work needed. Considering the industry average of around 900 to $2,500 per tooth, a full-mouth porcelain veneer can cost around 7,200 to $20,000.

How to pay for full-mouth porcelain veneers

Indeed cosmetic dentistry procedures like veneers can be quite expensive. If the initial cost for the veneers is too expensive for you, then you should look for available financing options.

You can work with your dental office to establish a manageable payment plan for you. They tap a third-party financing partner for this. Also, there are healthcare credit cards and dentistry grants that may help you cover the cost of your veneers. Also, you can check out dentist schools if they offer cheaper or even free cosmetic dental procedures. These are usually don’t by dentistry students but are supervised by licensed dentists of the school.

Veneers aren’t forever

Aside from aesthetics, durability and longevity are the biggest advantages of porcelain veneers over composite veneers. The former is significantly stronger than the latter, and if properly cared for, it can last for more than a decade. Composite veneers, however, usually last 5 to 7 years. This means while you will be paying more for the porcelain, you can trust it to last twice as long.

For your veneers to last long, you need to take good care of them. This means practicing good oral health hygiene. However, note that veneers aren’t forever. Through time, the effects of wear and tear will eventually become more apparent and you will need to repair and/or replace your veneers.

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