Cosmetic dentistry isn’t a new phenomenon, and it isn’t going anywhere. One study found that 99% of Americans believe that a good smile is the most important social asset, and another study found that the market will be worth nearly $30 billion by 2024. Why do people get cosmetic procedures at all?
Cosmetic dentistry spans everything from whitening products to braces to dentures. Many people get these done for health reasons; for example, getting a bridge implant can reduce pain. However, a survey conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry found that 85% of people decide to get these procedures to look better and get a self-esteem boost. The same survey found that 27% of patients spent $2,500 or more on procedures.
Here, we discuss various types of cosmetic procedures and determine if they’re worth the cost. To remove our own biases, we’ve collaborated with the cosmetic dentists at Serene Dental to create a fairly objective article. Still, we always recommend that you consult your local (cosmetic) dentist to find the best procedure for you and a better estimate of cost, as the price varies greatly based on region.
Bleaching / Teeth Whitening
Making teeth whiter and removing stains is one of the most common forms of cosmetic dentistry. It’s also cheap – going into a dentist’s office will run you an average of $650. There are also a number of take-home options, such as whitening trays, strips, and toothpastes. These options are not as effective as seeing a professional, but depending on what you want you’ll only spend between $5-100.
The Verdict: Investing in cheap options to lift coffee stains are definitely worth it!
Braces / Orthodontics
Braces are one of the procedures that fall in between cosmetic and medical. Often, your regular dentist will recommend you to an orthodontist to correct jaw problems (i.e. an overbite); however, many people elect to get braces for purely cosmetic purposes. According to the American Dental Association, braces will typically run between $4,500 and $7,000, depending on a number of factors. Treatments like Invisalign are cheaper. Invisalign usually costs between $1,000 to $5,000. The issue with these types of treatments is that insurance agencies often consider these treatments purely cosmetic, and you may get stuck with the entire cost.
The Verdict: Traditional braces may be worth it if it is covered by your insurance provider. If your teeth aren’t causing you pain or other medical problems, this is one you can pass on.
Dental veneers can help fix a surprising number of cosmetic defects. They’re most often used to fix chips, re-shape a tooth to look more natural, or cover up stains that can’t be corrected by bleaching. Porcelain veneers cost between $925 and $2,000 per tooth, and composite type cost between $250 and $1,500 per tooth. However, porcelain veneers will last for 10-15 years and composite will last 5-7. Some insurances cover veneers, but not all. Veneers may not be a good option for those who clench their jaw or grind their teeth during sleep, as this can cause the veneers to chip or break. It’s not completely off the table, but you will have to wear a mouth guard to bed every night.
The Verdict: Worth it if you’re looking to repair that gnarly chip in your front tooth from when you accidentally hit your mouth on the table as a kid. If you have multiple teeth you’re looking to fix, then maybe not – multiple teeth can get costly quick. You should definitely have a conversation with your dentist first to make sure you’re a candidate for veneers if you grind your teeth.
Dental Caps, aka “Crowns”
Crowns are more often a medical procedure than a cosmetic procedure. A dental crown is a cap that goes over the top of a tooth to improve function. Usually, there is significant damage – for example, a very large crack or a cavity that was too big to be filled. It is used in cosmetic dentistry when a veneer wouldn’t be enough to correct the problem. There are several types of crowns, but regardless of which one you choose you’ll pay between $500 and $3,000 per crown. Porcelain, porcelain-fused-to-metal, and zicornia crowns all mimic natural tooth color well and last many years.
The Verdict: You may want to check other treatments first, but crowns are not a bad option, and in some cases may be less expensive than veneers. Probably worth it!
Overall, patient comfort is most important. If you have the money and it will increase your confidence, it’s definitely worth looking at any of the listed types of cosmetic dentistry.