These days, it seems like everyone wants to improve their smiles. The global teeth whitening market was most recently valued at $6.9 billion, with a projected 5% year-over-year growth up until 2030.
But with the rise in popularity of cosmetic dentistry, many individuals are left out:
- Those with sensitive teeth may find teeth whitening too painful.
- Deep stains and damaged teeth might be too deep for a whitening agent to penetrate.
- People who suffer from preexisting oral health conditions may have to forgo whitening altogether.
There are several alternatives for people in these categories, and one of the best options is veneers.
Dental veneers offer a long-term solution to discolored or damaged teeth. These thin shells of porcelain are attached to the front surface of your teeth, and they look natural.
But are they the right option for your mouth? This article gives you the pros and cons of teeth whitening vs. veneers so that you can make an informed decision about your oral health.
What's The Difference Between Teeth Whitening And Veneers?
Teeth whitening treatments and veneers seek to achieve the same goal: a brighter, whiter smile. But there are several key differences between the two treatments.
- Veneers last long-term, while whitening is temporary. Teeth whitening treatments last several months, but they need to be repeated to maintain their effects. Veneers, however, can last over 10 years with proper care.
- Veneers require minimal preparation, while whitening does not. Before applying veneers, little to no preparation is required other than shaping the teeth for the best fit. Teeth whitening treatments often require a dental visit and impressions of your teeth in order to get custom-fitted trays.
- Veneers hide imperfections, while whitening does not. Veneers can hide a variety of imperfections, such as chips, cracks, and gaps between teeth. Teeth whitening treatments cannot hide any damage or discoloration and will only lighten the existing color of your teeth.
- Veneers are more expensive than whitening treatments. Whitening treatments can cost anywhere from $100 for over-the-counter teeth whitening kits to over $1,000 for in-office treatments. Veneers, on the other hand, can cost thousands per tooth.
- Veneers require shaving down the tooth, and whitening treatments change the color of the surface. In order to apply the veneer, your dentist will need to remove a small amount of enamel from the tooth. Teeth whitening treatments use bleaching agents that lighten and change the color of your teeth without damaging the enamel.
- Veneers are irreversible, while whitening is not. Once you get veneers, there is no going back to your original teeth—the enamel will have been removed and replaced with a veneer. Teeth whitening treatments can be stopped anytime if you don't like the results or experience sensitivity.
The biggest distinction between teeth whitening products and veneers is that whitening products change the actual color of your teeth, while veneers hide imperfections and discoloration. Depending on your desired results and budget, one option may be better for you than the other.
Teeth Whitening Vs. Veneers: Which One Is Right For You?
The decision of whether teeth whitening or veneers are the right option for you will depend on numerous factors.
At-home teeth whitening can cost as little as $30-50. And professional teeth whitening procedures can cost several hundred.
But veneers are much more expensive. Depending on the type of veneers and the dentist you choose, it can cost anywhere from $800-1,800 per tooth.
For some, the upfront cost of veneers can be prohibitive. Getting one or two veneers isn't feasible since the teeth need to match the rest of the teeth in your mouth, meaning veneers are an investment of several thousand dollars.
Over time, this is worth it since veneers can last over a decade with proper care, but many can't handle the upfront cost.
Time To Results
For teeth whitening treatments, you can expect to see results after the first few consultations, but it will take around a month to see the full results.
Veneers, on the other hand, require minimal preparation, and you can have a brand new smile in just one or two visits to your dentist.
If you want instant results, then veneers are the way to go.
The biggest difference between teeth whitening and veneers is that whitening treatments have to be repeated once or twice per year to maintain results. And if you have any habits that damage your teeth, they might not last as long.
Veneers are covers for your teeth, so they don't change color. Although you need to maintain your regular dental hygiene regimen, you don't have to go back for touch-ups.
Deep stains and damage that result from years of smoking cigarettes, neglecting dental hygiene, or severe oral health problems like tooth decay and gum disease cannot be resolved with teeth whitening.
Veneers are the only way to hide these kinds of stains and damage, which is why they're often recommended to people after fixing the underlying problem.
Getting veneers is a permanent solution that shouldn't be taken lightly. Once you have the procedure done, it's irreversible.
Teeth whitening treatments can be stopped anytime if you don't like the results or experience sensitivity.
If you have sensitive teeth, neither procedure will be pleasant. But veneers might be a better option for you if this is the case.
Even after getting veneers, it is not uncommon for some to experience an increase in tooth sensitivity. Temporary discomfort due to hot or cold temperatures can be expected during the first few days post-procedure.
A randomized clinical trial showed in-office teeth whitening to cause tooth sensitivity in 100% of cases, so those who choose this route aren't out of the woods, either.
In the case of both teeth whitening and veneers, the sensitivity goes away eventually. Still, veneers are the better choice for those with sensitive teeth because they require far less maintenance (and, therefore, far less discomfort).
Common Problems That Veneers Solve
Beyond teeth whitening, veneers solve a few other problems. If your teeth are worn down, cracked, or have spaces between them, veneers can fix these issues by masking their appearance.
These issues aren't fixable with teeth whitening alone.
Teeth whitening works by removing surface-level stains, so it's not effective if your teeth are discolored from within. If you have intrinsic discoloration due to medications, trauma, or genetics, whitening might make a small difference. But covering it with a veneer is still the best choice.
Cracked, Broken, Or Chipped Teeth
Chipping a tooth is one of the most common injuries, and it can happen at any age. Whether it's from a skate park accident, biting into a hard snack, or from years of grinding your teeth, a chipped tooth can leave you feeling embarrassed about your smile.
Teeth whitening won't fix it—the only way to repair a broken or chipped tooth is with a dental restoration like veneers.
Some people are born with irregularly shaped teeth, which can be embarrassing and make them feel self-conscious about their appearance. Veneers are the perfect solution for this problem—they're custom-made to match your unique smile, masking any misalignments or irregularities.
Gaps In Teeth
Even if you had braces, the straightness of your teeth isn't guaranteed. Orthodontic relapse is common among those who do not religiously wear their retainer.
Beyond relapse, around 25% of teeth movements result from natural growth and development, which can also cause gaps to form in between teeth.
Veneers are an effective way of covering up the spaces and restoring your smile back to its original state.
The Teeth Whitening Procedure
If you choose to go with teeth whitening, the process will vary wildly depending on the type of product you select.
Your first step is to choose between in-chair vs. at-home whitening products.
In-chair whitening is done in a dental office and tends to be the most effective. It usually consists of applying a gel containing a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide, then letting it sit for a short period of time.
Laser teeth whitening is another common in-chair procedure, where a laser or LED light is used to activate the whitening agent. When comparing laser teeth whitening vs. bleaching, the former is usually quicker and more expensive.
Newer teeth whitening options like Zoom! whitening are also available in-chair. When looking at laser teeth whitening vs. Zoom, the latter is often more effective, but it's also the most expensive method.
If you have a dentist take care of your teeth whitening, you will visit for two or three sessions and may need to take home a “touch-up” kit for later maintenance.
At-home whitening products come in many forms, such as gels, strips, toothpaste, and kits. These are usually weaker than professional-grade versions and have milder ingredients.
If you choose at-home teeth whitening, it will take longer to see results and you'll need to make sure that you’re consistent with your treatments. They require daily commitment and maintenance, but the results can be great if done correctly.
The Veneer Procedure
If you decide that dental veneers are the way to go, the process is a bit more involved than whitening.
First, you’ll have to visit your dentist for a consultation. During this appointment, your dentist will take dental impressions of your teeth and discuss the size, shape, and color of the veneers that will best suit you.
Your second visit to the dentist will involve preparing your teeth for the veneers. This means removing some of the enamel to make room, then taking a final impression.
Before adding the porcelain veneer, your dentist will start by grinding down and taking an impression of your teeth. They'll send this mold to a lab where it can be crafted into a perfect-fit veneer for you in around two weeks.
Once the veneers arrive, they are placed on the prepared tooth with specialized dental cement, ensuring that none of your natural teeth are damaged during the process.
What Are The Best Veneer Alternatives?
When comparing dental crowns vs. veneers, crowns are thicker and cover the entire tooth. They can also be used to repair severely damaged or decayed teeth, while veneers are mainly used for cosmetic purposes. They are also much more expensive than veneers, as they require more material and take longer to make.
Dental bonding is a cheaper alternative and involves applying composite resin to your teeth. When comparing dental bonding vs. veneers, it isn't as strong or long-lasting, but it can still give you an improved smile.
Ready to make a decision? We've summarized the key points of this article below.
Teeth Whitening Vs. Veneers: Which Is More Affordable?
Teeth whitening is generally more affordable than veneers, as the process requires fewer materials and is less labor-intensive. Since teeth whitening doesn't need to be completely customized the way veneers do, the cost for the procedure is usually far lower.
If you want to keep the teeth whitening cost down, teeth whitening is the clear choice.
Teeth Whitening Vs. Veneers: Which Is More Effective?
Veneers are more effective than teeth whitening as they provide a longer-lasting solution to discoloration and damage, with results that can last more than 10 years. Teeth whitening cannot fix any physical imperfections in the teeth, but only brighten the existing tooth structure.
Teeth Whitening Vs. Veneers: Which Works Better?
Whether teeth whitening or veneers will work better depends on your specific needs. If you're looking to improve the color of your teeth or fix minor discoloration, then a non-permanent solution like whitening may be better. If you need a structural correction to damaged teeth, then veneers are likely the way to go.
Both can give you a brighter smile, but the best option will depend upon how much work needs to be done.
Teeth Whitening Vs. Veneers: Which Is More Convenient?
Veneers and teeth whitening take similar amounts of time when it's all said and done. But veneers are much more convenient since they are permanent and require very few ongoing treatments. Teeth whitening, on the other hand, requires daily commitment and bi-yearly maintenance to maintain results.
Teeth Whitening Vs. Veneers: Which Is Safer?
Studies have shown teeth whitening to be safe, but over-whitening can also be damaging. With veneers, you don't need to worry about enamel erosion or other potential damage.
If you want the absolute safest bet, veneers are the way to go.
Teeth Whitening Vs. Veneers: Which Will Last Longer?
Veneers do not change color and last for over a decade when properly taken care of. Teeth whitening, on the other hand, can last anywhere from 3 months to several years, depending on how well you take care of your teeth.
Veneers are much longer-lasting than teeth whitening, and for this reason, many people opt for them over other methods of brightening their smiles.
The Bottom Line
When it comes down to it, both teeth whitening and veneers can provide you with a beautiful smile. Teeth whitening is more affordable but less permanent, while veneers are more expensive but longer-lasting. Ultimately, the best option for you will depend on your individual needs, budget, and lifestyle.
No matter which one you choose, It's important to remember that neither solution is a substitute for regular dental care. Talk to your dentist about which option is best for you, and make sure you take good care of your teeth!