Dental care is something that many adults put on the back burner or may not address at all. Approximately 35 percent of adults don’t see a dentist in any given year and around 25 percent have untreated cavities.
When they do finally go see a dentist, they often discover their teeth are in very rough shape. In some cases, they may need either dental implants or veneers for several of their teeth. So, how do you make the dental implants vs veneers choice for your teeth?
Keep reading for an overview of implants, veneers, as well as their pros and cons.
What Are Dental Implants?
In essence, dental implants are a replacement option for badly damaged teeth or missing teeth. The implant itself is typically a titanium screw and post. The artificial tooth, typically made of a composite or porcelain, goes on top of the post.
The artificial tooth will resemble a real tooth in appearance and offer a similar feel to an actual tooth.
Dental Implant Process
The exact dental surgical process for dental implants will vary from person to person based on their teeth, but the process typically follows a general pattern.
The first step is a full dental exam, including X-rays in most cases. The dentist uses this to formulate an overall plan.
Next up is tooth removal if you have a damaged tooth. You may also need repairs on adjacent teeth at this time.
If the jaw bone is in poor condition, you may need a graft at this point. If the jawbone is healthy enough, the dentist will place the titanium screw in the jaw. In many cases, the dentist will then wait for a few months while the bone heals around the implant.
After you finish healing, the dentist will attach an abutment to the post and make casts for the crown. The final step after your gums heal from the abutment placement is the attachment of the crown.
Dental Implant Pros and Cons
Dental implants offer many benefits, but also come with some built-in downsides.
On the pro side of the chart, dental implants offer an extremely high success rate. They’re very durable.
They are generally a more cost-effective option in the long term. They also provide a natural look for your smile.
On the con side of the chart, it’s a time-consuming process. It can take months before you get the crown attached.
You’re typically looking at numerous dentist appointments over the course of the process. It also comes with a higher upfront cost than other options.
What Are Veneers?
A dental veneer is a tooth restoration process, but it differs sharply from dental implants. A veneer is a covering that goes over the front of the tooth to cover existing damage, prevent further damage, and restore the tooth’s appearance.
Veneers are thin pieces of either porcelain or resin material.
Similar to the implant process, the veneer process begins with a full dental examination. The dentist identifies which teeth can benefit from veneers and will make recommendations for a plan moving forward.
In most cases, you will follow up this initial consultation with two additional visits to the dentist.
In the first of these visits, the dentist will remove the enamel layer from the front of your tooth. The amount removed reflects the thickness of the intended veneer and is usually quite thin.
At that point, the dentist must make an impression of the tooth or teeth that will get the veneers. Those impressions go out to a lab for the construction of the final veneer. In the meantime, the dentist will likely give you temporary veneers to protect your teeth while you wait.
On your final visit, the dentist will bond the permanent veneers to your teeth.
Veneer Pros and Cons
Veneers also come with their fair share of pros and cons.
On the pro side, veneers can restore the appearance of your teeth. They typically resist staining. In most cases, your gums will tolerate the veneer without much trouble.
On the con side, there is no repair process for a damaged veneer. You will need an entirely new veneer if the old one is chipped or cracked. Veneers can come loose, although it’s not very common.
If your teeth are sensitive to hot or cold, a veneer can make that problem worse. Veneers offer no protection for the parts of the tooth that are not covered.
Dental Implants vs Veneers
Dental implants and veneers offer you options that can restore the look of your smile, but they do so in drastically different ways. In most cases, it’s not an implant vs veneers choice because they don’t address the same problem.
Dental implants provide options for people with a catastrophically damaged tooth or a missing tooth. In essence, it’s the option of last resort when no other treatment option will work.
Veneers are often a more cosmetic choice aimed at giving you a better smile with the side benefit of protecting the surface of your teeth.
Your dentist will make recommendations for a treatment option based on what the initial exam shows them. Most won’t suggest an implant if they think they can preserve the natural tooth in some other way. For example, they might recommend a crown for a badly damaged tooth, rather than a dental implant.
Implants, Veneers, and You
It’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever face dental implants vs veneers choice. If one of your teeth is damaged enough that an implant is a viable option, your options won’t likely include veneers. The dentist may recommend a crown or some other alternative that might save the tooth.
A veneer veers more into the cosmetic dentistry side of things. They let you improve the look of your smile and provide a durable surface on the front of your teeth.