What does it cost to have a beautiful smile?
Well ‘nothing’, if you happen to be lucky enough to be born with one or your parents made sure you grew up to have one (regular dental visits, excellent oral hygiene routines, healthy food and possibly braces)!
Otherwise … obviously there isn’t one ‘simple’ answer. It depends on what is ‘perceived’ to be wrong and what options are offered to correct that. There are a lot of misconceptions about the cost of cosmetic (or ‘aesthetic’) dentistry.
Most people believe that it is much more expensive than it actually need be; some think it should cost about the same as having your nails done!
What do most people not like about the appearance of their teeth?
That could be one (front) tooth or all the teeth that are discoloured. If it’s the former , that usually signifies a ‘dead’ or root canal treated tooth and is likely to need crown or at least a veneer. That can be made out of porcelain (ideally) for between £ 900 and £ 1,500.
However using composite, although not as durable as porcelain will cost between £180 and £360. If it’s ‘all’ the teeth … then a really thorough scaling and cleaning may be sufficient (not to mention healthy) and cost about £100. If that’s not enough, then the teeth can be ‘bleached’ either in the surgery and/ or ‘at home’. The fee is between £350 and £600.
Crookedness (crowded teeth)
Most people assume the ‘only’ treatment for crooked teeth is ‘orthodontics’ (braces and wires). Although generally that may be the optimal approach, there may be alternatives if issues of time, hassle and costs mitigate against it. One common alternative to braces, often applicable, is the use of ‘aligners’ (a form of thin transparent mouth guard). However, these still involve ‘moving teeth’ and, therefore (like braces) take quite a lot of appointments and time to complete. The cost can generally range between £ 3,000 and £ 8,000 and take up to two years of treatment.
Alternatively (although certainly not in ‘all’ cases) a very acceptable result can be achieved with some judicious ‘re-shaping’ of teeth and placing veneers on crooked teeth to make them ‘look straight’.
These veneers can be made of porcelain or composite. The cost obviously varies according to how many teeth warrant this treatment. Such treatment can be completed in one or two appointments. The fee, for example, for four composite veneers and some minor re-shaping of teeth may be about £ 800 to £1,200.
Gaps between teeth
This is generally caused by teeth that are too small ‘relative’ to the size of the jaws they are in. Most commonly, a very ‘conservative’ approach is the best. By adding to one or both teeth on either side of the ‘gaps’ with bonded composite material, the teeth are made wider and so fill these gaps.
The cost obviously depends on how many gaps are visible in the Smile Zone. To close one gap may cost £150 to £280. If there are more gaps then the total fee should be reduced, due to ‘economy of scale’.
If the teeth are ‘also’ too short then they may well need veneers to restore not just the width but the length too. As mentioned, such veneers can be made of porcelain or composite material.
Obvious missing tooth
This is a significant aesthetic problem when the missing tooth is in the ‘Smile Zone’. Most commonly this would apply to an upper 1st, 2nd premolar or 1st molar. Although the traditional solutions of a fixed bridge (crowns on the teeth on either side of the gap and a ‘false’ one in the middle) or a crown on an implant (bionic root inserted into the jaw bone in the missing tooth area) are usually the most appropriate. The fee is about £2,700 to £3,600. An alternative, although considered rather ‘temporary and relatively short term’, can be a composite fibre bonded bridge made in the surgery. The fee would be about £500 to £800.
Not enough tooth (‘white’) showing in the smile
This can be caused either by the (upper) dental arch being a bit too narrow: the teeth seem not to ‘fill out’ the smile at the sides and/or the teeth , particularly at the front being too short (often caused by night time tooth grinding / bruxing). The solution is to ‘add’ tooth coloured material in the form of veneers; either porcelain or composite. If the teeth don’t fill the smile at the side, three veneers on each side are usually required at a total of about £1,500 for six veneers in composite, increasing to about £5,000 for porcelain.
Bear in mind that people always show upper teeth when they smile, but will also definitely show lower teeth during ‘normal speech’.
If you are not 100% happy about the appearance of your teeth, then at least get some accurate information about your options, the various treatments available and the costs involved. At least then, you can make a truly informed decision. You may decide to have nothing done or you may end up with a smile that you (and others) absolutely love and it can change your life![ssba]