Braces Vs Veneers: Which is Better for You?

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Wondering if Braces Or Veneers Are Best For Your Case? Read On to Learn More

You might not have as severe a case of malocclusion or oral health ailments as some of our patients, but maybe you still harbor some insecurity. In that case, which is the best cosmetic orthodontic treatment for you: braces, Invisalign aligners, or dental veneers?

In the debate between braces and Invisalign treatment, clear aligners are arguably the best cosmetic choice during treatment, as they are far more discreet and far less noticeable than traditional braces or fixed orthodontic appliances. But typically, both types of orthodontic treatments yield similar, successful end results.

Dental veneers, on the other hand, do not move the teeth, though they can create a straighter, symmetrical, more aesthetically pleasing smile appearance. Veneers are also good when someone has malformed, broken, or discolored teeth. This means that they can’t replace orthodontic treatment but can be good for cosmetic treatment.

So, if you’re only dealing with minor cosmetic issues and teeth wear, which tool is better: orthodontic treatment, veneers, or both? Read on for an overview of important comparisons and questions to ask when thinking about this issue.

Should I Get Braces or Veneers for Gaps?

When it comes to larger gaps like overbites and over jets — malocclusions that could potentially lead to much more severe issues than just cosmetic ones — dental veneers are not an ideal quick-fix solution. They are simply a cosmetic and protective layer, usually made from dental porcelain or cosmetic resin, applied over part of the teeth.

It’s worth noting that veneers only offer partial tooth coverage; crowns will provide full coverage. As stated previously, veneers are just inert overlays, and when applied to the teeth properly, they will not move them. As far as smaller, minor gaps though, veneers can help by:

  • Adding enough circumference to fill small gaps
  • Filling out the ideal tooth shape (on worn teeth)
  • Adding a protective layer for enamel wear

However, this protective layer is still subject to certain vulnerabilities you’ll want to watch out for. Veneers can help fill certain small gaps and are a perfectly valid way to do so.

That said, If the shape of the teeth is good, orthodontic treatment with braces or aligners is the treatment of choice; it is a conservative approach, not a quick fix like a veneer, and is capable of handling larger gaps.

Alternatively, the orthodontist may install the bracket directly on the veneer if they have no other choice, but this is not preferred; if they have no way of bypassing the veneers, they may just recommend wearing Invisalign clear aligners to totally bypass the problem altogether.

Braces and Invisalign win out at fixing serious malocclusions, but if you want to wear either with a dental veneer, you can — just be sure to discuss treatment with your orthodontist. That said, if you suffer from the following maladies, you may not be a good candidate for wearing braces with veneers:

  • Bruxism: Grinding and clenching your teeth, often at night. This will wear down both the veneers and enamel. You can still get veneers, so long as you have mild bruxism, but this condition will cause them to wear faster than they would otherwise.
  • Poor oral hygiene habits: While veneers can often cover stains or make your teeth more resistant to staining and discoloration, they are not totally immune (especially not composite veneers) to staining over time. Since food debris can stick onto braces, it can make it easy for this staining to occur if you aren’t proactive or careful.
  • Diseased gums and decaying teeth: Covering up oral health problems will not erase those problems. Additionally, the weakening of your teeth may promote weakening of the veneer material. It’s best to address these problems directly, rather than attempting to hide them.
  • Unusual chewing habits: Biting nails, pencils, caps, and pens can wear your veneers and damage the brackets, just as it would to uncovered, exposed, natural enamel. Whether seeking orthodontic or dental treatment, it’s best to reign in these bad habits for the best results.
Woman Smiling while Wearing Braces with Veneers

Can You Get Braces WITH Veneers?

Most orthodontists will want to avoid attaching brackets directly to veneers, as the porcelain doesn’t hold as well as natural tooth enamel, but it is possible to wear braces and dental veneers at the same time. One solution to ideally preserve both tools could be wearing lingual braces to get around frontal teeth veneer coverage.

How Much Do Veneers Cost?

Of the two options, veneers generally cost less than braces – at least when looking at initial price points. Veneers can typically run anywhere from $800 – $2,500 depending on make and model, while orthodontic treatment options can cost anywhere from $1,700 – $9,000 depending on the method used.

However, orthodontic treatment lasts for life if a prescribed retainer is used properly – veneers are normally replaced once every ten years, sometimes 20-30 years if well-cared for. This could mean that, when all costs are calculated, veneers would cost more than orthodontic treatment but, if veneers are deemed the best choice for your oral health by your dental healthcare professional, it’s money well spent.

What Happens to Teeth Under Veneers?

As we’ve stated previously, dental veneers are not some sort of impervious, impenetrable, or bulletproof armor that will magically shield your teeth from all damage, nor are they a substitute for full-blown orthodontic treatment — plaque, tartar, and contaminants can still buildup around your natural teeth, and they can still put you at greater risk of suffering more severe health issues like periodontitis and cavities.

This can shorten the lifespan of both the veneer and the natural tooth. While they don’t worsen your risk of suffering contamination, dental veneers alone don’t improve that risk either. To maximize the lifespan of both your teeth and veneers, we highly advise that you:

  • Brush at least twice a day, for two minutes at a time.
  • Gargle mouthwash, or sea salt water, for at least 30 seconds to disinfect.
  • Wear an occlusal guard if you suffer from bruxism.
  • Moderate intake of acidic foods & drinks, like citrus fruits, coffee, or soda.
  • Moderate intake of sugary foods & drinks.
  • Don’t smoke; tobacco can stain the teeth and weaken gum health.
  • Visit your dentist twice a year to perform a deep dental cleaning.

So, like braces, veneers will not place you at greater risk of oral health issues, but they will not totally protect you from them either. They can still happen if you aren’t careful, so in any case, remain diligent.

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What Are the Disadvantages of Veneers?

We’ve explained how veneers have certain vulnerabilities or limitations, and why they aren’t a replacement for full orthodontic treatment. But do they have any outright drawbacks? Well, in certain contexts, dental veneers can have disadvantages, including:

  • Immobility: As we’ve stated before, properly bonded veneers alone will NOT move the tooth, which doesn’t make them ideal for fixing wider gaps.
  • Irreversibility: To apply veneers, the orthodontist will often need to reshape or remove the outer layer of enamel before installation. Since you can’t add or regrow that enamel, you’ll continually have to get replacement veneers for the rest of your life. So, veneers are removable, but you can’t fully walk back the procedure if you regret it.
  • Cost: As stated above, braces and orthodontic appliances typically cost a few thousand dollars to install and maintain across the board, but it can cost that much to do that with dental veneers per tooth. Also, since veneers are widely viewed as a cosmetic procedure, many dental insurance plans are far less likely to cover them than they are to cover traditional braces.
  • Color: Not only are veneers not totally immune to staining and discoloration, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll identically match the color of your teeth. If you’re planning on whitening your teeth, it’s best to do the whitening before you install your veneers.
  • Condition: If your teeth and gums are too weak, then that could weaken the bonding of the dental veneers. Alternatively, unlike braces, veneers usually cannot be fixed if they chip or crack. This means that the entire layer will have to be swapped out and replaced.

Ultimately, veneers and crowns can be great cosmetic remedies, are somewhat protective, and can be great for fixing mild, minor gaps. Even so, our final verdict is that braces, Invisalign, and orthodontic treatments are the only definitive, tried & true tools for fixing severe malocclusions, and veneers are not (and will never be) a complete substitute for that.

As we’ve stated, veneer procedures are irreversible, period. Once the treating oral healthcare provider files down the enamel to install the veneer, the tooth will never be the same after that. It will demand lifetime maintenance and veneer replacements for the rest of your life unless you want to be placed at greater risk of conditions such as:

  • Gum disease
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Gum inflammation
  • Flossing issues
  • Chronic pain

Above all else, irreversibility is the biggest issue with veneers and the main reason why we don’t recommend them as a substitute for orthodontic treatment. But at the end of the day, braces or veneers are only tools — it’s up to you to put these tools to proper use.

If you’re still unsure of which tool is the best tool is for your oral health needs, we strongly recommend consulting an experienced, licensed orthodontist. They can provide additional guidance, support, and resources to help you make up your mind.