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. It 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

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. The average cost of a single veneer in the US is US$1,200, and some dentists charge as much as US$2, 500. The average cost in Thailand, in contrast, can run below US$400. You probably won’t travel to Thailand solely for veneers, but if business or pleasure takes you there anyway, you may decide to return home with a sparkling new set of 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 as much as ten times more expensive than composites (plastic veneers). Composites are cheaper, but they last only one third to one half as long as porcelain (some studies say five to ten years for composites, 10 to 15 for porcelain). Another type of veneer, called Lumineer, 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 in 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

  • Most dental insurance plans do not cover the costs of strictly cosmetic procedures such as veneers, but it never hurts to check. You might find some unexpected benefits hidden in the fine print of your policy.
  • Do ask about lower cost alternatives. For example, the appearance of a tooth can be improved with an expensive veneer or less expensive bonding. If the latter is as good as the former in your judgment, then save some money and opt for the more affordable choice.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Do ask for patient references. A successful practice should be more than happy to share positive outcomes.
  • 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. Dental veneers require expertise—make sure your dentist has plenty.
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    Last updated on 2 August 2011