Is it worth paying for good cosmetic dentistry?

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How do you rate value?

The patient MH originally came in early 2002. He was not happy with his smile aesthetics: the upper front teeth were to small, gappy, seemed to point in different directions and very importantly, because of the position of his side/back teeth on the upper right side, he seemed to show ‘an empty space’ in that area as compared to similar teeth on the left.

In March 2002 he had twelve full porcelain veneers fitted to all his upper front teeth. Seventeen and a half years later they are all still in place and being of good quality porcelain they look exactly the same today as they originally did back in 2002. During this time, none had failed, fractured or needed replacing.

The results completely fulfilled all the criteria and the patient was totally pleased with the result.

He paid £860 per veneer in 2002. The fee today would be £1,100 per unit (an increase of only 29% in 17 years).

These veneers were not ‘cheap’ back in 2002 and they are not so today either. Was the treatment worth it?

To consider value in cosmetic dentistry such as this, I would suggest you answer the following questions:

  • Are you clear about what you don’t like about the appearance of your teeth/smile?
  • Has the dentist given you his/her input on your aesthetics. Does your dentist inspire confidence, knowledge, a feeling of being a perfectionist and having an ‘artistic’ approach?
  • Have you been given different treatment or material options and had their ‘pros & cons’ explained? Examples would be comparing orthodontics with veneers or comparing quartz composite and porcelain as materials.
  • Different materials used obviously incur different costs, have you been given (what seems to be) a fair idea of how long such treatments are likely to last?
  • How does the dentist ensure that you will be satisfied with the result?
  • Does the dentist have an of his/her own case studies of such treatments that you can be shown?
  • Does the fee sound reasonable? You may wish to compare with other similar level practices. Remember to only compare apples with apples (and not oranges). If something sound cheap there is always a reason for it.
  • There should be a fee reduction if you are having multiple teeth treated, as an economy of scale applies.

So, for example, if a single porcelain veneer cost £1,350 then, if say, six or more are being done the fee may be reduced to £1,100 per tooth; that’s only fair and logical.

Once the treatment is completed and time has passed, you can judge:

  • Did these dental veneers make a significant difference to your smile aesthetics and your self-confidence over the years?
  • How long have these dental restorations lasted?
  • Do they still look as good (or nearly so) as they did when they were originally placed?
  • Have they required a fairly minimal amount of maintenance over the years?
  • In the perspective of time, do you feel you paid a fair fee (if you can remember what you paid)?
  • Would you conclude that they were a good, emotional, time and financial investment?

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