Dental Veneers

Your Guide to Top-Quality, Affordable Dentistry

A dental veneer is also called a porcelain veneer or dental porcelain laminate. A recent innovation in cosmetic dentistry, the veneer is a thin shell of porcelain that is bonded onto the front of a tooth.

A veneer, or multiple veneers if required, can improve the surface texture, color, and shape of the tooth. A veneer serves as a cosmetic treatment for a tooth that is discolored, worn, chipped, or misaligned. Veneers can fill in gaps between teeth and correct oversized or undersized teeth.

Why It Works for Medical Tourism | Planning Ahead | Accreditation and Certification | Dental Tourism Do's and Don'ts

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An alternative to a veneer is dental bonding, in which a composite resin is applied to a tooth; the material is then dried and hardened with a laser. Dental bonding can repair chips and cracks in teeth; it can also cover pits and stains.

Because veneers are translucent, they give a lustrous appearance to a tooth that bonding alone cannot achieve. They also resist stains better than bonding does, but veneers are more expensive and less easily repaired than bonding alone.

Why It Works for Medical Tourism

If you need or want a large number of porcelain veneers, then traveling to have the work done may well save you money. In the US, the average cost of a single veneer is US$1,200, and some dentists charge as much as US$2, 500. UK and Australian patients pay even more. In contrast, the average cost in Mexico or Thailand, can run below US$400. The savings rise handsomely for patients requiring multiple veneers.

Planning Ahead

If you are comparing prices, make sure you and all the dentists you consult are discussing the same kind of veneers. The “gold standard” for veneers is traditional porcelain; such veneers can be up to ten times more expensive than composites (plastic veneers). While composites are cheaper, they last only one third to one half as long as porcelain (some studies say five to ten years for composites, 10 to 15 years for porcelain). Another type of veneer, called Lumineers, has an intermediate cost, while promising to last as long as traditional porcelain.

Porcelain veneering requires two or more visits to the dentist, typically a week or two apart. Make sure your travel schedule can accommodate the treatment plan your overseas dentist recommends.

Accreditation and Certification

Non-US dentists practicing abroad can apply for affiliate membership with the American Dental Association (ADA). Such membership is available to dentists who are practicing in a country other than the United States and who do not have an active US dental license.

The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) runs an accreditation program that serves professionals practicing in the US and abroad. Applicants for accreditation complete a rigorous credentialing process that includes a written examination, oral examination, and peer review of clinical cases.

Dental Tourism Do's and Don'ts

  • Do make sure you check and understand the specifics of your dental insurance plan, if you have one. Some plans cover full or partial costs for bridges. Find out how your coverage is affected if you travel for dental care.
  • Do ask about lower cost alternatives. For example, a missing tooth can be replaced with an expensive implant or a less expensive bridge. If the latter is as good as the former in your judgment, then save some money and opt for the more affordable choice.
  • Don't fall for showy websites. Find out about your clinic's good standing and accreditation, as well as your dentist's training, credentials, board certification, and experience. The process of planning, forming, and placing a bridge requires expertise. Make sure your dentist has plenty.
  • Do ask for a cost estimate in writing. Although the estimate may change once the dentist is able to review your needs in person, it is important to have an agreed upon point of departure.
  • Do ask for patient references. A successful practice should be more than happy to share positive outcomes.
  • Dentistry can be painful, especially if you compress a lot of work into a short period of time. If you are highly sensitive to pain, do discuss pain management with your dentists—both at home and out-of-country.
  • Do ask if all your work can be done in one trip; your savings decline if you have to travel twice.
  • Do ask about compatibility of any parts or materials used. Standard dental practices, supplies, and equipment vary among countries. Incompatibilities can create problems for follow-up care at home.
  • Do remember to request x-rays, estimates, test results, and other documentation to share with your at-home dentist so you don't have to pay for more later. Most will supply you x-rays in digital format; ask for jpg files.
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    Last updated on 4 July 2017