Have you ever seen teeth on others that seem too good to be true? Larger than usual, pearly white, movie-star-looking teeth that seem to defy the ravages of time and neglect? Let’s face it, a good measure of age is to look at someone’s teeth.  Are dental veneers the solution?

If you smoke or drink a lot of coffee, your teeth will become incrementally discolored over time. Many people suffer chipped, misshapen, and broken teeth through accidents. But did you know that you may be unconsciously breaking and chipping your own teeth by grinding your jaws in your sleep?

I didn’t learn I was grinding my teeth in my sleep until I had cracked and broken two teeth. I religiously brush and floss the teeth I have left now. And I am living abroad right now. Subconscious stress and culture shock may have been behind my tooth-grinding while asleep problems.  I want to get the problem fixed right now, but don’t have the quality options I woefully took for granted when I lived in the United States.

What do you know about dental veneers? When you see people with larger-than-life and too-clean-to-be-true teeth, they may be sporting dental veneers. Dental veneers can be a great cosmetic option for chipped, misshapen, or gapped teeth.

Veneers are aesthetically pleasing, whiter than white, and make your teeth look stronger than they actually may be in reality.

But getting veneers can have just as many drawbacks as benefits. There are many cheap veneer options that can improve your smile in one visit. Unfortunately, cheaper is not always better when it comes to quality dental care.

So, let’s talk about dental veneers.

Dental Veneers 101

Dental veneers are thin, smooth, and aesthetically attractive tooth coverings. They are customized to fit by your dentist before they are installed. 

There are several types of dental veneers but we will discuss only two basic types. 

Composite veneers are a ceramic-like shell covering that covers the front exterior of teeth. 

Porcelain veneers are similar to a dental bridge in that the tooth must be destroyed and grounded down for the tooth-shaped veneer to act like a replacement tooth.

Composite veneers are the more affordable option of the two. Composite veneers are made of resin. Your dentist will apply dental cement to your teeth and then apply the composite veneer to the front of the tooth. 

Getting porcelain veneers will involve a more invasive type of surgery. A dental bridge is installed to aesthetically improve gaps and missing tooth smiles. Porcelain veneers are installed to give you strong, white, and aesthetically pleasing teeth.

Your teeth must be ground down to a post-like stump first. You will lose a lot of natural enamel in this procedure. And then the dentist will make a mold of your teeth. You may be given dentures until your next appointment. It could take two or three dental appointments before you get your porcelain veneers.

Next, the doctor will apply cement to your ground-down tooth stumps and affix your porcelain veneers. 

Dental Veneers Benefits and Drawbacks

You can get dental veneers for one tooth, several teeth, or your whole mouth.

Composite veneers are more affordable than porcelain veneers. The average composite veneer can cost anywhere between $250 to $900 per tooth. Porcelain veneers can cost anywhere between $1,500 to $2,500 per tooth.

While porcelain veneers can last about 20 years or longer, composite veneers will only last about five years.

Veneers are not indestructible. Porcelain veneers are much stronger than composite veneers, but you need to protect either kind. Composite veneers are cheaper and are prone to cracking if damaged. Make sure you get a retainer if you know you grind your teeth in your sleep.

You can get composite retainers in one visit and you don’t need to get any enamel removed. 

It may take up to three visits to finalize a porcelain veneer installation. Additionally, you may need to be anesthetized during the process. And it may take days or weeks of healing to overcome the pain of having your natural enamel ground away.

Think twice before you get porcelain veneers – the process can’t be undone afterward. 

Getting porcelain veneers may increase tooth sensitivity since most of your natural enamel has been removed. Consuming hot or cold food could cause extreme sensitivity reactions in your teeth.

Composite veneer will stain over time depending on what you eat. But you can get them replaced every 5 years. Porcelain veneers are less likely to stain. 

Your local dentist can tell you more about veneers, but these are just the basic facts.

Where to Get Affordable Veneers

In some developing countries, you can get composite or porcelain veneers for 50% to 80% less than the American dental cost standard.

  • Colombia – $190
  • Costa Rica -$85
  • Mexico -$45
  • Thailand  – $40

If you only want composite veneers, you may want to consider getting them abroad. It’s much cheaper. Even if you are ripped, a local American dentist should be able to fix the problem since the process is non-invasive.

Porcelain veneers are a more invasive form of dental surgery, however. And while it may be cheaper, you have no legal recourse if you come home and find out that your dental work is subpar. Make sure you vet the international dentist carefully before you let them grind away the enamel in your teeth. It will cost a fortune to have an American dentist fix the problem.

You may want to travel to the city before the procedure to vet several dentists and talk to them if you want porcelain veneers.

If that seems like a hassle to you, imagine the hassle of coming home from a dental tourism trip and having your porcelain veneers fall off of your ground-down teeth because your international dentist used cheap dental cement.

Here is a site with several links to international dentist registries. You can also visit the official websites of the international cities you plan to visit to find out about local dentists,

Your best option may be to call a local dental college in your home city and inquire about their rates as well.

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