Dentistry
Cosmetic
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Updated on January 30, 2023
5 min read

Veneers vs Braces

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Veneers vs. Braces: What’s the Difference?

Dental veneers and braces are different treatments that share a common goal of helping to improve your natural smile. Each approach offers unique advantages and disadvantages, so you may wonder which treatment option is best for you.

The answer depends on your specific dental issues and cosmetic concerns.

Generally, the main difference between veneers and braces is:

  • Veneers are primarily a cosmetic treatment that fixes discolored teeth, small gaps between teeth, and broken, chipped, or worn-down teeth.
  • Braces are an orthodontic treatment that corrects structural problems like severely misaligned teeth and malocclusion.

Cost and treatment times also vary between braces and veneers.

The best way to determine which dental treatment is right for you is to consult a cosmetic dentist or orthodontist.

Veneers vs. Braces vs. Invisalign

Invisalign® is a newer form of orthodontic treatment. Braces and Invisalign shift teeth, while veneers cover cosmetic flaws. Although Invisalign can correct misalignments, people with severe malocclusions may need traditional braces.

When are Braces Necessary?

Your dentist may recommend braces if the position of your teeth needs to be corrected. This non-invasive orthodontic treatment straightens teeth over time.

Braces also correct alignment issues with the jaw or bite (malocclusions), including:

Without treatment, malocclusions can lead to many physical ailments, such as:

What are Braces?

Dental braces are orthodontic appliances that semi-permanently attach to your teeth. Depending on your needs, an orthodontist might combine braces with other tools and orthodontic appliances, such as rubber bands or headgear.

There are many types of braces, including:

Traditional Metal Braces

Metal braces are the most noticeable type. They consist of metal brackets that attach to the front teeth and stainless steel bands that cement to your molars. Arch wires connect to the brackets and guide tooth movement.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces look like metal braces but are made of ceramic material. Their color matches natural teeth, making them less noticeable.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are similar to traditional braces, but they attach to the insides of teeth. Lingual braces are unnoticeable when you smile. However, they don’t always correct severe misalignments.

Clear Aligners

Clear aligners are removable and made of clear plastic, making them the most discreet option. You can remove aligners to eat, drink, and brush/floss your teeth.

Pros of Braces

Dental braces are often considered one of the more traditional orthodontic treatments. They have several benefits, including:

  • Non-invasive — Unlike veneers, braces don’t require removing enamel from your teeth. When treatment is complete, your natural teeth will remain intact.
  • Effectively treat complex cases — Braces can correct problems that veneers cannot, such as a misaligned bite, overcrowding, and severely crooked teeth.
  • Relieve symptoms — Treating malocclusion may help resolve related issues like pain, tooth decay, and difficulty chewing.

Cons of Braces

Disadvantages of braces include:

  • Long treatment time — Treatment can last from a few months to over 3 years, depending on the case’s complexity. The average treatment time is 1 to 2 years.
  • Long-term aftercare — Most people who wear braces must use a retainer indefinitely to prevent relapse.

When are Veneers Necessary?

Veneers are one of the fastest ways to transform your smile. Dental veneers are slim, porcelain or composite shells that a dental professional permanently bonds to the front of your teeth. They’re made of tooth-colored material with light-reflecting properties that mimic natural enamel.

People get dental veneers to improve cosmetic concerns like:

  • Crooked or discolored teeth
  • Irregularly shaped teeth
  • Tiny teeth
  • Small gaps between teeth
  • Broken or chipped teeth

Pros of Veneers

Advantages of dental veneers include:

  • Fast treatment time — Veneer placement usually requires only a few appointments with your dentist.
  • No special aftercare — You can care for your veneers how you care for your existing teeth.
  • Improved smile appearance — Veneers don’t only change the position of your teeth but the color and shape as well.

Cons of Veneers

Downsides of dental veneers include:

  • Irreversible — Before you get veneers, your dentist removes a layer of enamel from each tooth. This is necessary for the veneer to fit correctly. The enamel won’t grow back, and removing it means you must wear veneers for the rest of your life.
  • Unlikely to last a lifetime — Most dental veneers last a few years or longer with proper care. The chances are that you’ll need to get replacement veneers at some point. 
  • Don’t move teeth — While veneers can close small gaps, they don’t have the power to shift your teeth the way braces do.
  • Not right for everyone — Veneers may not suit people who clench or grind their teeth (bruxism). If you have other oral health problems like gum disease, your dentist will likely recommend treatment before getting veneers.

Veneers vs. Braces Cost

General costs for each treatment include:3, 7

  • Veneers — Between $925 and $2,500 per tooth
  • Braces — About $6,000
  • Invisalign — About $4,000

The cost of veneers and braces varies based on the type, appliance, or materials used and the complexity of treatment. 

The price of veneers varies between materials, with porcelain veneers being more expensive than composite resin veneers.

Many dental insurance plans don’t cover veneers or braces for adults over 18. If your insurance deems it a cosmetic procedure, they’re unlikely to cover it. However, if braces are necessary to treat a bite misalignment, dental insurance may help pay for them.

Which Treatment is Right for You?

The best treatment for you depends on the result you hope to achieve and the condition of your teeth. Sometimes, a combination of braces and veneers or clear aligners and veneers is the most effective approach. 

In these cases, your dentist may recommend wearing braces first. Braces attach better to your natural tooth enamel than to veneers. However, some dentists may use braces and veneers together.

Summary

  • Dental veneers and braces are two treatment options that can improve your smile. 
  • Braces and Invisalign clear aligners are non-invasive orthodontic treatments. They shift your teeth over time to correct structural problems and misalignments. 
  • Dental veneers fix cosmetic dentistry issues like discolored, crooked, and broken teeth. 
  • Veneers are a lifetime commitment because they involve filing down tooth enamel.
  • The right treatment option for you depends on the condition of your teeth, any dental concerns, and the desired outcome.
Last updated on January 30, 2023
7 Sources Cited
Last updated on January 30, 2023
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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  3. Anderson, SE, et al. “A Comparative Expected Cost Analysis Study on Dental Services and Products Used in the United States.” Account and Financial Management Journal, 2020.
  4. Maini, A. “Short-term cosmetic orthodontics for general dental practitioners.” British Dental Conference & Exhibition, 2013.
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