What Can You Get Instead of Veneers? Hygienist Explains!

Dental veneers can hold the promise of a whole new smile but come along with cons such as removing too much tooth surface. But how can you achieve a similar result without getting veneers? What dental treatments can you get instead of veneers?

Alternate options instead of getting dental veneers include teeth whitening, orthodontics including braces and Invisalign and composite bonding are options to improve aesthetics. Dental crowns are possible too, but more tooth surface is removed and should only be done if necessary.

Veneer installation procedure over central incisor. Medically accurate tooth 3D illustration

In this post, I cover all seven of the alternate options for getting dental veneers and expand on the pros and cons.

1. Teeth whitening

The main objective of getting veneers is to improve the colour and shade of the teeth. Most often, changing the colour and shade can be done with teeth whitening products.

Teeth whitening is a safe way to change the colour of the teeth, but using the right product is crucial.

It is essential to use products that contain peroxide (either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide) to whiten teeth. All other products will not whiten your teeth.

The best over-the-counter teeth whitening product is Crest Whitestrips. I prefer to use the ones that are only worn for 30 minutes. The shorter time usually equates to a higher percentage of peroxide and therefore penetrates the tooth deeper, increasing the whitening effects and increasing the longevity of the results.

I put together a Whitening Resources page where you can find a small list of my go-to products that I recommend to my patients.

As well, avoid whitening products that come with a light. The light barely makes any difference and none that can be noticeable by the naked eye*Opens in a new tab.. Lights add cost, can damage the soft tissue in the mouth, and cause overheating, and frankly are not environmentally friendly.

Avoid all the whitening products below;

Avoid all;

whitening toothpastes

whitening pens

whitening gums

whitening mouth rinses

whitening floss

All of the products I listed above will not whiten your teeth. They are either just an abrasive that will take away irreplaceable tooth structure or have such a low percentage of the active ingredient (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide) that the effect will be so minimal that you may not notice any change.

*It is important to know that only natural tooth structure can be whitened. Any artificial material/restoration will not be affected by the whitening products and their colour will not change. 

2. Orthodontics

Orthodontics provide better aesthetics, but they also provide a better function of the teeth and contribute to the overall health of the mouth (which in my opinion is the most important part).

If a patient of mine is looking for veneers to correct their misaligned teeth, I would rather them go through orthodontic treatment instead if it is applicable.

If veneers are put on top of already misaligned/crooked teeth, it does not change the angulation of the root surfaces underneath the gum line and can increase food getting trapped between the teeth and contribute to tooth decay and gum disease.

I would even rather my patient have orthodontic treatment down to align the teeth better, then after orthodontic treatment is completed, dental veneers be placed. Because this way they have a healthy foundation for the veneers.

Read now: Cosmetic or Medical? Reasons Why Dental Braces Are Needed

Sometimes the “quick” treatment of veneers is not the best option in terms of the overall health of the teeth, even though someone may be told that by a dental professional. I have worked for dentists that like to oversell cosmetic dentistry procedures, and will not fully explain the cons to the patient.

Needless to say, I do not work there anymore!!

Also, going through orthodontic treatment does not require the entire front surface of the teeth to be shaved down to make room for the dental veneers.

a woman smiling holding up a dental model with braces and a clear aligner
Invisalign vs traditional metal brackets braces

There are two options for orthodontic treatment;

  • Invisalign (clear trays)
  • traditional metal brackets braces

Choosing which treatment to go with depends on many factors and should be discussed in person with a licensed dental professional and preferably an orthodontist.

New products are coming out that can be purchased online, and they send you a kit to do your dental moulds at home, and you send them back, and they create your clear trays for you and send the trays to you in the mail. This is extremely dangerous, and all orthodontic work should be done in person, under the supervision of a dental professional, preferably an orthodontist. 

This also includes pop-on veneers. Pop-on veneers are very dangerous to dental health for a multitude of reasons. I wrote a whole post on pop-on veneers I will link to. 

Read now: Pop on Veneer Review From Dental Hygienist and Full Guide

3. Composite bonding

Composite bonding on teeth is when plastic filling material is built upon the teeth to change the shape. Composite bonding does not require any surface structure to be removed by a drill, making it a healthier option for the teeth.

If a patient of mine is looking to change their tooth shape to make their teeth appear more aesthetic, composite bonding can provide a preview of what veneers can accomplish. Of course, they will not be as good quality or long-lasting as tooth veneers but can be sufficient for what the patient is trying to achieve.

Composite bonding can also slightly correct minimally crooked teeth if done properly, but is not an option for some people.

Read now: Do Veneers Ruin Your Teeth? Dental Hygienist Explains!

4. No-prep veneers

No prep veneers cover the surface of the teeth without taking away any tooth surfaces. They are a good option if there is enough room for the teeth to bite together, and they won’t push out the lips too far. No-prep veneers can be a great option to improve aesthetics.

However, they can appear see-through at times in different lighting because they are pretty thin.

No-prep veneers are best suited to healthy teeth that are structurally sound. If the teeth are worn down, cracked/chipped, or misaligned, the no-prep veneers have a lower chance of survival long term.

I always recommend having at least two separate opinions regarding cosmetic dentistry. Ask to see before and after pictures of the work the dental professional has completed to see if it aligns with both your wants and needs.

5. Dental crowns

Dental crowns should only be done if absolutely necessary. When the dentist places a crown, the tooth’s natural crown is shaved down to provide a good base and enough room for the new crown to be placed.

With a drill, enough tooth structure needs to be taken away, so the crown is not left too thin, leading the crown to crack, break, and fail.

It is important to note that dental crowns can only be redone so many times, as each time a crown is redone, more irreplaceable tooth structure is removed.

Once the crowns are replaced too many times, and there isn’t enough tooth structure left for the crown to hold on to, a crown lengthening surgery may be needed.

Crown lengthening surgery is when the dentist or oral surgeon pulls back the gum tissue around the tooth and then shaves away the crest of the bone with a drill to expose more tooth surface. Sometimes, the gum tissue will need to be contoured to remove excess.

Another unfortunate circumstance is the tooth will require a root canal.

Root canals are needed when too much tooth structure is removed, and the nerves of the teeth become exposed, which triggers the nerve to die, which can cause an infection called an abscess.

Root canals may also be needed if the dentist uses a post and core to support the crown on top of the tooth. Think of this like cement around a fence post. A fence post is much more secure when placed deep in the ground in the center of poured concrete. Same with a crown, if it is attached to a cement-supported post, it will be stronger and last longer.

Read now: Can Teeth Veneers Be Whitened? Hygienist Explains!

6. Gingival contouring/gingivectomy

Gingivectomy surgery with laser use. Medically accurate tooth 3D illustration

Sometimes issues with the appearance of the teeth are attributed to the level of where the gums sit on the teeth. In some circumstances, the gums come too far onto the teeth coming closer to the biting surface, and sometimes the gum level is not even.

I have seen smiles transform from gingival contouring, but it is not for everyone.

7. Dental hygiene cleaning

So having a dental hygiene appointment to clean your teeth may not replace the need for veneers, but I included it in this list because sometimes the appearance of our teeth can be improved with a dental hygiene appointment. Dental hygienists are a wealth of information, and we are here to inform and discuss your oral health.

Your dental hygienist will be able to speak with you concerning your chief complaint and provide guidance on your treatment options; however, if you are still wondering about the pros and cons of dental veneers, you can read that below!

Pros and cons of dental veneers

There are many important pros and cons of dental veneers that need to be considered before getting veneers. Depending on what you value and your end goal, some pros and cons may be critical to you, while others are not.

Below is a table I have put together of the pros and cons of dental veneers that I go over with my patients interested in dental veneers.

Pros of dental veneersCons of dental veneers
Increase aesthetic Tooth structure is removed
Increase confidence Cost
Resistant to staining Can form a cavity underneath
Change shape and colourIrreversible
Can strengthen worn teethCan chip and break
Lengthen short teethNeed to be replaced every 5-20 years
Realistic looking Increased tooth sensitivity
Pros and cons of dental veneers by a Registered Dental Hygienist

I hope I have given you some insight into the world of dental veneers and what other options there are instead of getting dental veneers, along with a pros and cons table.

Have a wonderful day,

Holly 🙂

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