I've decided to get my teeth fixed. Braces or Veneers?
March 21, 2013 5:14 PM   Subscribe

I've always been unhappy with my teeth, and I want perfect, straight teeth. Here's a picture. http://i49.tinypic.com/w86a6b.jpg I want to know the likely cost of the procedure, and also what option, (braces, veneers, ??) would be the best route. If braces are indeed the best option, I would have to choose the invisalign braces. I plan on going to the Dentist soon, but I just want to know what to expect. Thank you, kindly!
posted by AMWKE1984 to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It looks like you have straight teeth, they're just uneven. Braces (traditional ones) could pull the higher ones down and move the lower ones up. That's what my daughter is going through right now, and it's going to end up costing us around $5000 when it's all said and done (about 24-26 months total).

Your dentist will likely refer you to an orthodontist. Make sure you get a second opinion because treatments can vary greatly between orthos.
posted by cooker girl at 5:21 PM on March 21, 2013

That photo looks like some fairly straight teeth, just uneven on their lengths. I'm currently about 1/3 done with braces as an adult, but my teeth were WAY out of alignment, making braces necessary (invisalign only works if your teeth need slight adjustments). I ruled out veneers and crowns because that requires modifying your teeth and leaving them susceptible to problems later on (you basically destroy a tooth to put a crown on it, then they can break, crack, come loose, etc). Full braces are fairly expensive, mine are some sort of futuristic top of the line clear model that ran nearly $5,000.

For me figuring this stuff out, I knew a friend of a friend that was a dental hygienist, so I got to pepper them with many questions, called up about half a dozen orthodontists and talked to my own long-term dentist and got some recommendations. I went with the office that seemed to be both knowledgeable and have the latest and greatest options for making it go smoothly.
posted by mathowie at 5:21 PM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

It's hard to tell just from looking (apart from thinking that your teeth look way nicer than mine did, especially before I got braces.) Your best option is to find a dentist in your area, or talk to the one you already have. If the price quoted seems too high, go to a second one.

In my case, getting braces as an adult ran me about $4000. IIRC, I paid about a third of that up-front, and the rest in installments over the course of the procedure (14 months; my last payment is this April, whee!)
posted by kagredon at 5:22 PM on March 21, 2013

I'm not sure that braces will do anything for the differing lengths of your teeth (which look fine to me, but it's your mouth.) Veneers would be applied after your existing teeth are filed down. RealSelf is a good site to browse for various reviews, before and after photos, etc..
posted by Ideefixe at 5:22 PM on March 21, 2013

I went the Invisalign route, and it's pretty fantastic. Around here, it costs the same to get invisalign or braces ($5000), but either is the better option for permanent correction. Also I noticed the price varies by standard of living of the area.

You can most likely get free consultations at any local dentist/orthodontist, which comes with a price quote. Also check groupon and livingsocial -- I occasionally see deals on there and you may be able to save a thousand dollars or so.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:24 PM on March 21, 2013

My understanding is that veneers are about $1000 per tooth, and you can expect them to last about ten years before they need to be replaced.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 5:30 PM on March 21, 2013

Best answer: Your teeth appear to be straight (though perhaps you have bite issues, which can be unrelated to how straight your teeth are), it's just that your lateral incisors are shorter than your front teeth.* Im not sure that's something Invisalign can accomplish (based on what my ortho told me when I had braces about 8 years ago, I don't think they can really pull teeth down to affect length the way wire-and-bracket braces can), but of course you should ask an orthodontist. If your teeth evenness is really the only problem, though, my guess would be veneers might be all that's necessary.

*Not that you asked, and of course it's totally fine to want to do something to change your appearance, but I have always thought smiles with shorter lateral incisors are really cute, almost certainly due to my youthful crush on Neil Finn. So if the only reason you want to fix your teeth is that you fear they're unattractive, I offer that entirely unscientific bit of anecdata.
posted by scody at 5:34 PM on March 21, 2013 [6 favorites]

Nobody here can give you a truly accurate ballpark of costs because your teeth can present one way but have unexpected underlying structural stuff going on that can completely cancel out one treatment or another. I thought for sure I could get Invisalign and started budgeting for that but after seeing a few different orthodontists (which I recommend you do too) I discovered that my mouth could not accommodate or properly respond to Invisalign and I would need a more complicated method of braces to fix my teeth. Many orthodontists will give you your consultation for free, so go to as many as you can (within reason) to get a more accurate assessment of your teeth and the steps needed to achieve the look you want. :)
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 5:38 PM on March 21, 2013

Veneers involve removing some parts of a healthy tooth. I would not do that to your teeth; they look pretty straight, white, and symmetrical to me. If braces (invisalign or perhaps the kind that go on the back of your teeth, or clear brackets) can do what you want I'd do that, but otherwise I'd let them be.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:47 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Veneers, by themselves, won't address any gingival disharmony that you may have. Braces can move the teeth (and soft tissue) into a more esthetic position. You may need both treatments to get "perfect, straight teeth." You can't tell from one picture, though.
posted by Cuspidx at 5:56 PM on March 21, 2013

Just wanted to say, along with some of the others here, that your smile is beautiful! Slightly off-topic, it's your mouth and all that... but I'm glad you've decided on the braces/invisalign route because I wouldn't destroy a thing in there with veneers, crowns, etc.
posted by one4themoment at 6:32 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I had Invisalign a few years ago, and I would not do it any differently if I had a choice, even with some of the difficulties. I'd had braces back in the dark ages as a kid, and they were a horrible experience, and no one told me that after I had my wisdom teeth out at 20, the rest would shift and I needed a new retainer. So my teeth got gradually really bad, and my bite was affected.

You'll definitely want to find a good dentist/orthodontist who works with Invisalign a lot. You might pay more if you go to one (if you have them in your area) who's like an expert in them, but I thought it was worth it because I had some initial problems, and had been told that I wouldn't be able to wear them by a number of dentists -- turns out they were wrong, I just needed some special snowflakey details.

They were really only a little more than metal, which I refused to have in my mouth again. But it was a serious investment -- I think $7,000 due to the length and the higher-end level of place I chose. It's really varied depending on where you live and what kind of dentist/ortho you choose.

Some of my teeth are still chipped and uneven, which became more noticeable after they were straight. I looked into veneers but I can't handle the idea of having my teeth filed down to nubs, plus they have to be redone pretty regularly. You can get fillers to lengthen some spots, and fill in chips. I think those might be a better deal. Veneers also do something to your mouth -- look at some of the actresses out there who get them, and then can't quite close their lips, or end up lisping a lot at first. For me, it just wasn't worth it.

Honestly, I think your teeth look great! A good cosmetic dentist might be able to help you with options, but watch out for someone who pushes you toward veneers -- there are just a lot of people out there making huge money on this, preying on people's insecurities about their smiles. Since I'm insecure about mine, I've learned this the hard way.
posted by emcat8 at 6:57 PM on March 21, 2013

Invisiline braces are probably your best bet. You can hardly tell when someone is wearing them, and your teeth look already pretty straight so you wouldn't be wearing them for that long.

Personally I think veneers look pretty bad/fake/denture-y looking and should only be used if your teeth are really in bad condition.

Honestly, I thought the picture you posted was what you wanted your teeth to look like. You have a nice mouth :)
posted by littlesq at 7:05 PM on March 21, 2013 [5 favorites]

Veneers involve removing some parts of a healthy tooth. I would not do that to your teeth; they look pretty straight, white, and symmetrical to me.

I agree. Just google "snooki new" and "teeth" shows up as the first suggestion. That's what veneers look like. And her teeth weren't all that bad to begin with either. If you go into a cosmetic dentist and tell them you want veneers, you are going to end up with something that looks like her, since your teeth are already pretty straight.
posted by gjc at 7:13 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Most people want their teeth to end up like yours! I appreciate it's not the advice you asked for, but I wouldn't touch them. Save yourself a fortune and treat yourself instead.
posted by Jubey at 8:15 PM on March 21, 2013 [11 favorites]

I just fixed some problems with my 4 top front teeth, and what I ended up doing was getting 4 crowns. 4 veneers was another option, as was a mix of veneers and crowns. I'm glad I went with the 4 crowns. As a rule of thumb, crowns are about $1000 each.

I bet you could get your incisors filed and crowns put on to lengthen them, and it would resolve 99% of what you're not liking. I can't see anything wrong with the 2 front teeth at all. Maybe a tiny bit of filing of the bottom surface to even them a bit?

If you're going to whiten, do it now if you get crowns or veneers; do it after if you get braces.
posted by peep at 9:00 PM on March 21, 2013

I have veneers. Don't get veneers.
posted by ook at 9:28 PM on March 21, 2013

My hubby got veneers in his late teens / early 20's, and by the time he was in his 30's they looked like absolute crap. Discolored, for one, but also as we age our gums naturally recede, and so he had a big gap between the top of his veneer and his gumline. Off to the dentist we went to have them removed, and the removal caused his teeth some trauma (I think his dental situation is pretty sensitive overall) which resulted in each of those de-veneered teeth having to have a root canal. And then a crown of course. It was a nightmare, and ended up being quite expensive to boot. He only had four veneers, top front, but ended up only having three removed and not doing the fourth in order to not cause the inevitable root canal.

So my vote is against veneers.
posted by vignettist at 8:23 AM on March 22, 2013

I'm sorry this is no help at all, your mouth etc etc, but I have to say I LOVE your teeth! Just off the top of your head, anything else you'd love to spend 5 grand on?
posted by billiebee at 8:58 AM on March 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

I just finished Invisalign, which was great for my crooked teeth, but your teeth look already straight. A dentist might be willing to file down the front two a little, which takes minutes, but really your teeth look fine.
posted by w0mbat at 1:19 PM on March 22, 2013

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