White teeth have always been popular with movie stars and the glamour set. Until about 25 years ago, this was usually done with crowns, but for those with healthy teeth—stained or dark but otherwise intact—veneers are a better option. Only the front of the tooth is prepared, and minimal tooth is removed. An impression is taken, and the lab makes a thin layer of porcelain, which is then bonded onto the tooth. By making the porcelain a lighter color, and varying the shape, teeth can be whitened, reshaped, and straightened at the same time. Veneers appear to last about as long as crowns, and the fees are similar. (Simple cases can be done by the Cerec method.)
“Bonding” is a generic term for any filling or crown bonded to the tooth using composite resin. Most people think of this for cosmetic work, and porcelain veneers are an example of bonding. It is possible to bond veneers directly from composite resin filling material, and whiten, reshape, and straighten just like porcelain veneers. The result is not quite as esthetic, and the useful life of such restorations is usually 5 – 8 years; costs are about half that of porcelain veneers. “Direct Bonding” is ideal for younger patients, or for that high school reunion you suddenly decide you need to look great for.