Many of our patients ask us about veneers as a potential option to restore damaged teeth, and questions about dental implants vs veneers are very common. Many patients are surprised to find that implants and veneers are not interchangeable. Let’s take a look at what sets dental implants and veneers apart, and how patients can choose between the two options.
A dental implant is a permanent solution to damaged, missing, or failing teeth. It is a surgical procedure where damaged or failing teeth are removed, a titanium screw is placed into the jawbone, and a zirconia crown is permanently placed on the abutment. The result is a prosthetic that looks and functions like a real tooth. Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth, a few teeth, or whole rows of teeth.
Dental implants are used to address severe, fundamental issues with the tooth and root. Patients may have rotting teeth, extremely damaged teeth, or no teeth at all. Dental implants can resolve these issues and return normal, healthy function back to a patient’s mouth.
A veneer is a cover that is bonded to an existing tooth. Unlike dental implants, veneers are used to correct cosmetic issues, as opposed to fundamental issues of the tooth. Many patients choose veneers if they have a chipped tooth, a crooked tooth, or if they have a tooth with discoloration that is unappealing.
Veneers don’t have special cleaning requirements, and you can’t remove them, since they are permanently cemented to your natural teeth. Most dentists recommend that patients avoid foods or drinks that stain (like coffee), but patients can still enjoy a normal diet of foods.
Even if patients avoid staining foods and follow pristine oral care, veneers will eventually need to be replaced. The thin cover will eventually crack and be damaged, and the bonding agent used to adhere the veneer to the tooth will also need to be reapplied, but upwards of 15 years is possible
We’ve already touched on some of the core differences between dental implants and veneers. Dental implants can resolve toothaches, bone loss from rotting roots, or replace missing teeth. Veneers can only resolve mild cosmetic issues, like discoloration, chips, or crooked teeth. There are other differences too, which we’ve detailed below: :
Durability is an important difference between dental implants and veneers. Dental implants are meant to be permanent and are extremely durable. As long as you follow regular oral hygiene habits, like brushing your teeth and using a mouth rinse, dental implants will last a lifetime. Research has shown that dental implants have a 92-95% success rate across the board, with our office’s success rate being 98.5%.
Veneers fix cosmetic issues, so they are far less durable. Most veneers will stay connected to a tooth for about 10 years before needing to be replaced, however, they may become stained and discolored long before that. Porcelain veneers may last longer, but no veneers are meant to be permanent. Regardless of what kind of veneers you get, you will still need to budget and plan on eventually replacing them.
To be eligible for dental implants, patients need to have enough healthy jawbone to support the dental implant screw. If there isn’t enough jawbone, patients can opt to have a bone graft to create the support needed. Patients who have damaged teeth, failing teeth, or missing teeth can look to dental implants as a possible solution.
Veneers are for people who want to improve the looks of their natural teeth and have no other big underlying dental issues. To be a candidate for veneers, you need to have a tooth healthy enough for a dentist to attach a veneer. If the tooth is too degraded or damaged, or if there is no tooth at all, veneers will not be an option. However, if your tooth is healthy enough for a veneer, most patients will be candidates to use veneers as a solution for their oral health.
Dental implants require a surgery to be placed. In short, the procedure usually looks like this:
- First, patients undergo a surgery to place implant screws and temporary prosthetics. Patients are put under with IV sedation by an oral surgeon.
- Then, patients go for a recovery period to allow the gums and jawbone to heal, which is usually around 3 months.
- Finally, patients have an appointment where the custom-made permanent prosthetics are connected to the dental implant screws.
Veneers, while not a surgery, also have several steps that take place. Like dental implants, there are also at least two different appointments:
- First, the dentist will shave off the thin layer of enamel on the tooth that is going to receive the veneer. It’s common for the dentist to numb the tooth in question during this step.
- Then, the dentist will make a mold or impression of the tooth. This will be used to help create a custom veneer that will fit perfectly on the tooth.
- The impression is sent so the veneer can be made. During the waiting period, a patient may have a temporary veneer placed on their tooth to protect it while the final veneer is made.
- Finally, in the second appointment, the custom veneer is bonded to the tooth.
The biggest difference in the procedure of dental implants and veneers is that dental implants require a surgery, which means they should be performed by an oral surgeon. Veneers are not a surgery, and most dentists are qualified to perform this procedure.
The cost of veneers is usually determined by the material used to make them. There are composite resin veneers, which are less expensive and lower quality, and porcelain veneers, which are more durable and more expensive. For composite veneers, patients can expect at $400 – $1,500 price range per tooth. For porcelain veneers, patients can expect a range of $925 – $2,500 per tooth.
If patients are interested in getting a full set of veneers, the common range is $10,000 – $20,000 per row of teeth. Patients should note that a “full set” of veneers is not every tooth in the row. Instead, it’s only for teeth that are visible to others in the smile zone, which is usually 6-8 teeth per row.
For dental implants, the average cost is $3,000 – $6,000 per tooth. If patients are interested in whole rows of teeth, like with an all-on-4 dental implants, the national average price is $25,000 – 40,000 per row or arch. If patients receive all-on-4 dental implants from our office, their price will be $14,950, which is all-inclusive.
Veneers are used to fix aesthetic issues with teeth, so they are usually made to be brilliantly white. It’s common for celebrities and politicians to get veneers for the super bright smile, though veneers will begin to fade and stain before they need to be replaced.
Dental implants, on the other hand, tend to be customized so they look like natural teeth; of course, the patient has control over how white they want the crown of their dental implant to look. Dental implants are rarely used to address issues that are only cosmetic, and so the focus will always be on making sure the core function of your teeth and jaw are restored as opposed to just their aesthetic appeal.
Veneers usually last 10 years, though porcelain veneers that are well taken care of can last upwards of 15 to 20 years. Regardless of what your veneers are made of or how well you take care of them, you will eventually need to replace them. While replacing one veneer isn’t a problem for most patients financially, replacing a full set can become financially prohibitive quickly.
In contrast, dental implants are permanent, which means they are meant to last forever. Once the procedure is paid for, there are no replacements or scheduled adjustments that patients need to budget for.
If you compare the national average cost of dental implants to the average cost of veneers, it looks like dental implants are far more expensive. However, given dental implants and veneers serve vastly different purposes, it is meaningless to base a decision on whether to get veneers or dental implants based on their individual costs. Veneers are used to improve the appearance of teeth, while dental implants are used to address core oral health issues to restore natural function. Given the importance of dental implants for overall health, we’ve strived hard to make our dental implants as competitive in pricing as possible. Namely, our all-on-4 dental implant (which replaces an entire arch of teeth) is priced at $14,950/arch, which is backed by our lowest price guarantee and lifetime warranty.
Dental implants are a great solution to a variety of dental issues. Here are some of the best reasons to get dental implants:
If you are missing a tooth or teeth, dental implants are a great solution. Veneers are not an option for this since they do not address underlying dental problems and need a healthy tooth to bond to.
When you get dental implants, any remaining teeth are removed, which means they’re an option for very badly damaged teeth. This is especially true if the tooth is so damaged that there’s not enough surface area to attach a veneer.
If you have bite issues from poorly aligned teeth, dental implants can be an easy option. This is especially true if other traditional choices (like braces) aren’t a viable solution for you. This is not an issue that veneers can resolve.
Dental implants are permanent, which makes them the best option if you want long-lasting, permanent results. Veneers can’t match dental implants in long-lasting results because they are not permanent.
Dental implants require failing or rotting teeth to be removed, and the titanium screws placed into your jaw can encourage bone to grow. For many patients, dental implants improve their oral health, on top of providing a natural-looking smile. Veneers can’t address core health issues in your teeth and mouth. Instead, they can only address cosmetic issues.
Here are some common reasons a patient might choose veneers:
If you have a small chip in a healthy tooth or just want to improve the overall look of your healthy teeth (e.g., make them brighter, and appear more aligned), veneers may be a sensible option.
Likewise, if you only have one or a few healthy teeth that have light damage, veneers may make sense financially. If you are replacing full rows of teeth, then the cost of veneers, and the replacement cost, will quickly outpace our pricing for a full-bridge procedure like all-on-4 dental implants.
Yes! Implants are permanent, while veneers usually last around 10 years.
Most patients don’t realize that dental implants require an actual surgery, which means dental implants should be placed by oral surgeons. A vast majority of complications from dental implants are caused by an unqualified and inexperienced doctor or dentist placing the dental implant.
Most patients are candidates for dental implants. However, those with specific ailments should consult with their primary physician and oral surgeon before moving forward with dental implant surgery.
No! In fact, dental implants may improve life expectancy. Research has shown a link between longer life expectancy and having a high number of teeth.