This past week I saw two interesting cases. One was a patient that had had orthodontic treatment but was now disappointed because the gaps between his teeth were coming back. The other was a patient who rather than having braces had veneers placed and was now disappointed because one of the veneers had come off. The interesting thing is both of these cases would have had a better result if both braces and cosmetic dentistry or veneers had been a part of the original treatment plan.
Oftentimes the reason a person needs braces is because the teeth are the wrong size for their jaw. If the teeth are too small for the jaw you get spaces, If the teeth are too large for the jaw you get crowding. Sometimes teeth are just too big or too small and even if they are lined up correctly they won't look right.
With the first patient if the tooth size and jaw size discrepancy had been detected prior to treatment, he would have known that after aligning the teeth, gaps should exist and that those gaps would be closed with veneers. The combined treatment would have given him a better looking end result with better stability.
Veneers are porcelain or ceramic facings that are placed on teeth to change their appearance. They are best used to correct discrepancies in size and color, and to correct minor misalignment of teeth.
The second patient did not have minor misalignment of teeth. They were severely crowded. As a result when the veneers were placed it looked better, but because the teeth were not in the correct position his bite was off and the veneers did not last very long. If they had considered braces to change the severe misalignment, he might not have needed veneers or only needed 2 veneers instead of the 5 that he got. A combination of cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics would have given him a better looking and longer lasting result.
Sometimes you can improve your appearance with just cosmetic dentistry, and sometimes with just braces, but oftentimes combining both treatments will make for the best looking, most stable, and long-term cost-effective treatment.
As you consider improving your smile or straightening your child's teeth ask your dentist if adding braces or some cosmetic dentistry (veneers or bonding) to the treatment plan, might not improve the results.