How your smile looks plays a big role in how you feel about yourself and how you think others perceive you. As the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) notes, about 74 percent of people believe that an unattractive smile can get in the way of career success and nearly 100 percent of people believe a smile is an important social asset.
You may not like showing off your smile if you think your teeth are too yellow, crooked or chipped. Fortunately, you have a number of affordable dentistry options that can help improve your smile and boost your confidence. At your next visit, talk to your dentist about ways to correct any issues with your teeth and how much you can expect each option to cost.
1. Get Your Teeth Whitened
People's teeth yellow or become darker for a variety of reasons. It could be due to a diet of foods that stain, such as coffee, chocolate and berries. It could be due to the enamel becoming thinner as you age and the yellower dentin showing through. Some people are born with teeth that are naturally yellow or slightly gray. If you decide you do want to whiten your teeth, you have multiple options, ranging from at-home treatments to treatments performed at your dentist's office.
The cost of teeth whitening varies based on location and the type of product used. As the Consumer Guide to Dentistry points out, an in-office treatment costs an average of $650.
At-home treatments tend to be the more affordable dentistry option, but the results you get from an in-office treatment are often much more dramatic and last longer. For example, the AACD points out that an in-office whitening treatment can lighten your teeth up to 10 shades in one hour, and the results can last for a year or longer, provided you take good care of your teeth. After a tooth whitening procedure, it's a good time to switch to a whitening toothpaste, such as Colgate® Optic White® to maintain your dazzling teeth.
2. Fix Chips and Cracks with Bonding
If you have a chipped or cracked tooth, or a tooth that needs a filling, dental bonding is often an affordable way to fix it. Dental bonding is typically made of either a composite resin or porcelain. The material can be dyed to match the natural color of your teeth, so you end up with a tooth that looks good as new and no one will be able to tell that you've had work done.
Bonding is one of the least expensive dental restoration options, too. While porcelain veneers can cost up to $1,500 per tooth, the average cost of dental bonding is $300 to $600 per tooth. The drawback of bonding is that it might not last as long as veneers, which are used to correct severely discolored or chipped teeth. If you are looking for a budget-friendly way to correct a damaged tooth, bonding may be the way to go.
3. Use a Retainer to Straighten Teeth
Not everyone with crooked or misaligned teeth needs braces. Typically, people wear retainers after they have braces removed to keep their teeth from moving out of position. But, if you have a small space between two teeth or your bite is slightly misaligned, you might be able to wear a retainer without getting braces.
An aligner, a clear plastic tray that fits over the teeth and helps push them into place or straighten them, can be another alternative to braces. Aligners are more expensive than retainers (for example, Invisalign® can cost between $3,000 and $8,000 while a retainer on its own typically costs between $500 and $1,000, as the Consumer Dentistry Guide notes). But, aligners do a lot more than retainers when it comes to correcting crooked teeth, which can make the higher cost worth it.
If you're not happy with your smile, you don't have to live with it! Schedule an appointment with your dentist today and learn more about what you can do to fix your smile.