My short teeth can make me self-conscious about smiling. Are porcelain veneers the only solution for lengthening my teeth? I’m 50 years old, but although it’s late in life, I want to do something about my short teeth. I prefer not to have my teeth shaved for veneers, and I am concerned the cost. I read that porcelain veneers cost more than $1,000 per tooth! I do not want to incur debt for veneers. Thank you. Paige from Naperville, IL
Thank you for contacting Dr. Thomas’s office with your question.
Before suggesting any treatment, an artistic cosmetic dentist will examine your tooth structure and gums to determine the cause of your short teeth and the best options to improve their appearance. Still, porcelain veneers are not the only option for lengthening short teeth.
How Can You Lengthen Short Teeth?
Cosmetic dentistry options for lengthening short teeth include porcelain veneers and other options:
- Cosmetic bonding – Dental composite can lengthen your teeth beautifully, costing less than porcelain veneers. A skilled cosmetic dentist has a variety of composites available and knows how to manipulate them to match the color, characteristics, and translucence of your natural teeth. You may choose to get your teeth whitened before lengthening them. Your cosmetic dentist will match the bonding to your brightened teeth. A cosmetic dentist takes these steps for bonding:
- Clean and etch your teeth
- Select shades of bonding that match your natural tooth color
- Apply, shape, harden, and polish the bonding
The bonding will look like your natural teeth. If you take diligent care of it, high-quality bonding can last five to ten years before a cosmetic dentist must replace it. Composite is not as durable as porcelain veneers, so a dentist must polish it periodically.
- Gum contouring – If you have a gummy smile, a dentist may use a dental laser to reduce gum tissue and contour your gums around your teeth. Gum contouring is an option only if gum contouring will not expose tooth roots. Your teeth will look longer.
- Porcelain veneers – The dentist will bond thin wafers of porcelain to the fronts of your teeth. Cosmetic dentists conservatively prepare teeth for the veneers—removing a fraction of a millimeter of tooth enamel to prevent the veneers from looking bulky. Porcelain is colorfast and stain resistant. Veneers can last 15 years or more and produce beautiful results. Only allow a trained dentist and hygienist to maintain them to prevent damaging the glaze on the surfaces.
- Porcelain crowns – A dental crown covers the entire tooth. A dentist must shave down your natural teeth on all sides to ensure the crowns fits over them. A cosmetic dentist would not recommend this option unless your short teeth are so damaged or worn that veneers or other treatment would not work. Dentists bond custom crowns to your natural teeth. Crowns look natural and cost less than porcelain veneers, but a dentist must remove more structure from your teeth than with veneers. If you take diligent care of them, your crowns can last 15 years or longer.
Regardless of which treatment you receive, the quality, beauty, and durability depend on the dentist’s skill. Only an artistic cosmetic dentist can produce the most natural-looking results while lengthening your teeth.
We suggest finding two or three cosmetic dentists and scheduling consultations with them. Before you schedule appointments, look for the following:
- Post-graduate training in cosmetic dentistry
- Years of experience in cosmetic dentistry
- Before-and-after photos of the dentist’s actual patients with cases like yours
Each dentist should explain the options for lengthening your short teeth and the results you can expect from each option.
Sugar Land, Texas, cosmetic dentist Dr. Siny Thomas sponsors this post.