Teeth Whitening vs. Dental Veneers

dental veneers on woman

Modern dentistry is always evolving, and new procedures are being developed all the time to improve the lives and smiles of dental patients around the world. As a result, cosmetic dental procedures are becoming more popular with regular people who just want to improve their oral health, renew the brilliance of their smiles, or just boost their confidence in their appearance. While there are a variety of cosmetic dental procedures available, two of the most popular and common are teeth whitening and dental veneers. While these two procedures share many of the same goals for the patient, they are different in how they go about it. That difference helps determine which procedure is best for an individual patient, so let’s learn a bit more about what teeth whitening and dental veneers entail, and when your dentist might recommend one over the other.

Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is likely the most commonly performed cosmetic dental procedure, in part because it’s relatively affordable and easy to do. Many, if not most, dentist offices offer teeth whitening these days and for good reason—it’s a quick and simple way to improve a patient’s smile. While several different approaches to teeth whitening exist, the general approach goes like this. After a dental cleaning to remove debris, plaque, and tartar, the dentist uses a chemical whitening agent to bleach the teeth. This removes or corrects discoloration and gives teeth a bright white and shiny appearance. It’s a safe procedure and generally free of discomfort for the patient.

Dental Veneers

Dental veneers can also be used to correct discolored teeth, but they may also fill a number of other roles including closing gaps in teeth, correcting misalignments, or repairing small chips or cracks in teeth. A dental veneer is just what the name suggests—a thin layer of porcelain applied to the outer side of a tooth and attached with a bonding agent. It’s a fairly simple procedure and corrects the cosmetic issue in question while also giving the tooth much of its original strength and shape. Dental veneers are also fairly easy to care for, requiring regular brushing and flossing just like a natural tooth does.

Which is Best for Me?

While both teeth whitening and dental veneers are commonly performed routine dental procedures which are generally safe and discomfort-free for the patient, they do fulfill different aims and roles in the patient’s oral health. Teeth whitening is an easy way to correct discoloration of the teeth and restore a bright, happy smile. However, as we discuss above dental veneers can be used to do that and more, correcting a variety of issues including gaps in teeth, misalignments, and small chips or cracks. They generally cost significantly more than a teeth whitening procedure. There’s another key difference between them: teeth whitening does not permanently alter the natural tooth. By contrast, dental veneers generally require the natural tooth to be reshaped to accept the veneer. This permanently alters the tooth. While teeth whitening may be more limited and not as long-lasting, it doesn’t reshape the tooth. Your dentist can discuss these pros and cons with you as they relate to your individual situation and help you choose the best solution for your dental health needs. Your smile is important, and both teeth whitening and dental veneers are wonderful tools to give your teeth a bright and healthy appearance.