Smile Makeover FAQs

Over the next few weeks, a series of commonly asked ‘aesthetic dentistry’ questions and answers will be published. The following smile makeover questions will be answered today:

  • If I have a ‘makeover’ on my teeth, will any of my own natural tooth be destroyed?
  • How long do these veneers last and what can go wrong?
  • What happens if I get an infected nerve under a tooth that has been crowned or veneered?
  • I am worried about costs, how much does a smile makeover cost?
Before Smile Makeover
Before Smile Makeover

If I have a ‘makeover’ on my teeth, will any of my own natural tooth be destroyed?

Answer: Very little if any. It does depend on the material used. The weaker, cheaper, less long-lasting Quartz Composite material that is applied directly by the dentist in the surgery actually requires less (if any) ‘tooth preparation’ than the ‘superior’ porcelain material that has to be made on models of your teeth by a dental technician. Either way, the aesthetic makeover is usually an ‘ add-on’ procedure with veneers (of either sort) fitting on top of the outside of the teeth. Often it can be carried out with the patient not even needing a local anaesthetic. Either way, one tries to apply the concept of ‘minimally invasive dentistry to the process.

How long do these veneers last and what can go wrong?

Answer: Obviously there is no ‘guaranteed’ time span. However, generally one would expect composite veneers to last about four years and porcelain to last about twelve. Both can indeed last a lot longer.

Composite, being relatively soft and weaker, can wear down, chip and eventually lose its surface texture. After a while, the edges can start to leak a bit and stain. Composite is, however’ easy to ‘repair’; although after a while it would need ‘replacing’.

Porcelain, being much harder (in contrast to composite) needs little or no ‘maintenance’.Sometimes, because it is so hard yet also brittle, after a while the underlying tooth can ‘bend’ a little; but the porcelain can’t. So, if it is thin it may fracture or if it is thicker, it may simply ‘detach’ from the tooth. In the former case, it would need replacing; in the latter, it would simply be re-bonded (‘glued back’).

What happens if I get an infected nerve under a tooth that has been crowned or veneered?

Answer: The nerve inside the tooth can sometimes ‘die’ after a dental procedure has been done on the tooth. Often it’s not predictable. It is more likely to happen to a tooth that has been crowned rather than one that has been veneered, as the former is certainly a more ‘invasive ‘ procedure than the latter. Either way, root canal treatment (usually completely painlessly) is carried out with access to the nerve from the ‘inside’ surface

After Smile Makeover
After Smile Makeover

of the tooth (which is later filled with a tooth-coloured filling material). Consequently, the appearance of the crown or veneer should not be affected by the root treatment and the longevity of the restoration should not be particularly compromised.

I am worried about costs; how much does a smile makeover cost ?

Answer: There is no one answer, as it depends on a number of factors. Doing a smile makeover is not like doing a face lift or a ‘boob job’.

These factors are:

  1. How many teeth are involved to achieve the required result.
  2. What tooth-coloured material is to be used… quartz composite, porcelain or a mixture of both.
  3. Do any other procedures need to be done to the teeth or mouth as well.
  4. The experience of the practitioner and his or her location.

The cost can vary between as little as a few hundred pounds up to twelve thousand pounds (or even more). Generally, for example, having eight upper front teeth veneered in composite material and having the teeth whitened might cost between £1,500 and £3,000. Porcelain restorations generally cost 3-5 times more than composite. Many patients do pay for such treatment with third-party financing (paying off the fee over 12-60 months).

The most important thing is to have an accurate, informed opinion that gives all the options and their ‘pros and cons’ and, of course, the costs.

Read our blog next week and find answers to the following questions:

  • Does it hurt to do a smile makeover?  I am really scared of dentistry.
  • I have crooked teeth. I hate them but I don’t want rail-track braces.
  • I want whiter teeth. Does it hurt, how much will it cost and how long does it last?
  • I have a dark front tooth, what can I do about it?

Read More FAQs on smile transformation