More and more patients are coming to my office looking to transform their smiles, says San Francisco Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD. Television and reality shows have made Cosmetic dentistry more popular than ever. People are not just looking to improve their smiles but in many cases to restore them as well. The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, posted a study a few years back that indicated that a staggering 99.7 percent of adults view a smile as an important social asset, with 74 percent believing that an unattractive smile has the potential to inhibit career success. We have complied a list of the 5 most popular dental procedures including some cost estimates so that you can be informed about your options when you discuss transforming your smile with your dentist.
- Tooth Whitening/ Dental Bleaching is the most popular cosmetic dental procedure: Teeth can be easily bleached through many means, the most effective method is professional tooth whitening in your dentist’s office. Many patients can see a change of from 2-9 shades, pretty dramatic. Over-the counter bleaching kits are available at drugs stores and through online companies and while often substantially less expensive than professional bleaching they also tend to be more time consuming and less effective as well. The ease of access and relative low cost of tooth whitening make it a very attractive option for people looking to improve their smile esthetics without doing anything invasive. Results are temporary, but depending on lifestyle, habits and homecare can last from a few months to a year. “Our professional bleaching program includes custom dental trays and touch up-gel so that patients can maintain beautiful smiles at home without the repeat expense or time of professional bleaching” says Dr. Loev.
Cost: The cost of whitening varies significantly from treatment to treatment and brand to brand. However professional teeth whitening costs approximately $550-750 per visit, compared to a range of $100 to $400 for professionally dispensed do-it-yourself kits. Over-the-counter solutions like whitening strips and toothpastes are considerably less expensive and correspondingly less effective.
- Dental Porcelain Veneers: Porcelain veneers are an amazing dental treatment that uses very thin porcelain “shells” bonded to the front/facade of teeth to transform discoloration, spacing and uneven smiles. Tooth whitening is not always a great transformation option for all patients. Some patients have staining that is not effectively treated with whitening solutions. Other patients may have spacing irregularities, chipping or unflattering shaped teeth that even when lightened do not provide the desired esthetic. If you're unhappy with your teeth and are looking for truly remarkable impact and create your perfect smile, porcelain veneers offer an excellent, often dramatic solution. However, keep in mind that unlike whitening, veneer application and bonding is an invasive procedure that requires the permanent alteration of your natural teeth. Think of porcelain veneers like a fake finger nail. The underlying nail or in this case tooth is shaped and filed down to establish a perfect substrate for the fake nail or porcelain veneer to adhere to. Unlike fake fingernails however, once your teeth have been prepared for veneers they can no longer be left uncovered. It is often suggested that one wear a night guard to protect veneers. While strong, veneers can break or even pop-off if repeatedly subjected to the pressures of the strongest muscle in the body, the jaw.
Cost: The cost of porcelain veneers is impacted by a variety of factors, such as scope of treatment and geographic location. Based on recent research you can estimate having to spend roughly $925 to $2,750 per tooth. Traditional porcelain veneers last on average between 10 to 15 years.
- Invisible Braces/ Invisalign: Porcelain veneers can often change the appearance of spacing in teeth but because it is invasive many people are looking for an orthodontic solution. For most of us the thought especially as an adult of wearing unsightly metal brackets and wires is too much. There are a number of invisible braces variants, including ceramic tooth-colored brackets, inside braces (placed on the back of teeth) or clear aligners (like Invisalign or ClearCorrect). Both Traditional style braces and removable clear aligners are effective but, both have strengths and weaknesses so a dental professional must evaluate your teeth and your objective to find the best solution.
Cost: The cost of invisible braces varies from case to case, product to product. Inside braces cost will be similar to that of traditional braces ($3000 to $7,000), but ceramic braces and clear aligners may end up being slightly more expensive (though in the same ballpark). Please remember to maintain your new straight smile one must wear a retainer. Most of the adults that I treat with Invisalign in my office actually had braces as youngsters but didn’t continue to wear their retainers says Dr. Loev.
- Cosmetic Bonding: Cosmetic dental bonding definitely has its place in a dentists “toolbox.” In dentistry, bonding describes the process of permanently attaching in this case composite resin (a specialized type of plastic) to the teeth. The materials used in this type of bonding is used to adhere fillings and veneers as well. Direct composite bonding can be used to repair chips, cracks and small gaps with tooth-colored resins. Bonding is great option for individuals looking to transform some bothersome characteristics of their teeth fairly quickly (in one visit compared to 2 or more for crowns and veneers) and for a lot less money than porcelain veneers or crowns. It is important to remember however that composite bonding is not as strong as porcelain and unlike porcelain it will stain over time.
Cost: The cost of bonding varies depending on surfaces to be treated and complexity of the case. On average, the per-tooth cost of dental bonding ranges from $300 to $700. An experienced cosmetic dentist can review your objectives and smile dreams and let you know if you would be a good candidate for bonding and if so what the cost would be.
- Porcelain Crowns: Crowns also referred to as “caps,” have been standard treatment in dentistry for many years. Technology, materials and techniques have evolved dramatically over the last 15-20 years. Crowns are used not only to beautify smiles but also to restore and protect broken and/or decayed teeth. In addition, crowns are used as parts of bridges and dental implants to replace missing teeth. Crown materials can be gold, porcelain fused to metal, or all-ceramic porcelain; the last of which offers the highest degree of esthetic value. Traditional porcelain crowns are generally fabricated over a metal based to increase strength and durability. However, in recent years all ceramic crown materials have been developed that not only allow for the natural translucent appearance that porcelain crowns can afford but also the strength that is offered by the metal substrate without the risk of dark edges over time.
Cost: On average, the cost of porcelain crowns ranges from $1,000 to $3,500 per tooth. Like porcelain veneers, most dentist estimate that crowns offer an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years.
Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD has been practicing dentistry in his Downtown San Francisco dental office for over 40 years. He has surrounded himself with an amazing team of individuals who are committed to patient care and service. Call them today at 415-392-2072 to set-up a complimentary cosmetic consultation or even just a new patient visit if you are in need/want of a new dentist.