Fact Checked

10 Types of Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures and Costs

Written by Fernanda Elizalde

June 27, 2022

Medically Reviewed

By Dr. Brian Harris, DDS

The popularity of cosmetic dentistry has grown rapidly due to social media and reality TV shows where smiles are elevated to the next level.

According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 99.7% of adults see an attractive smile as an integral asset and 74% believe an unattractive smile can limit their career success1.

If you're looking to enhance your smile, meeting with a dentist can help you discover the cosmetic dentistry procedure that is right for you and your budget.

snow teeth whitening kit

 

What is cosmetic dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry is professional dental work designed to enhance the appearance of your teeth and gums. General dentistry specializes more in preventative care and oral health, though many general dentists also offer cosmetic work as well.

If you have crooked or misaligned teeth, missing teeth, tooth decay, or need dental implants; cosmetic dentistry can transform your natural teeth and upgrade the aesthetics of your smile.

If you're considering dental treatment, here are some of the most common cosmetic dental procedures along with their costs.

Cosmetic Dental Procedures and Costs

Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is a common cosmetic dentistry procedure that whitens the tooth surface to deliver a bright smile. It is natural for discolored teeth to turn yellow or darken over time. The enamel on your teeth becomes stained from drinking coffee, tea, cola, red wine, juice, and eating certain foods.

Getting your teeth professionally whitened at a cosmetic dentist's office yields brighter and longer-lasting results in comparison to drugstore whitening strips, rinses, and toothpaste.

If you struggle with dental anxiety, teeth whitening is completely painless and can be done in a single visit that typically only takes a few hours. Chances are your dental office will even make it a pleasant experience and let you listen to music or watch TV while you wait.

The teeth whitening service is performed by a cosmetic dentist or a dental hygienist. Before your teeth are whitened, they'll first be professionally cleaned to remove plaque and tartar. This will help ensure optimal results. A proper dental care routine will keep your results lasting longer.

Your teeth may feel tingly and sensitive after the cosmetic dental procedure.

The cost of teeth whitening is one of the most affordable cosmetic dentistry procedures ranging from $500 to $1200. 

Dental Veneers

Dental veneers are one of the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedures. They can give dental patients a completely new smile rather quickly.

Veneers are tooth-colored wafer-thin custom-made shells made of ceramic or resin composite materials that are adhered to the front surface of the teeth to enhance the patient's smile.

Dental veneers are commonly used to fix chipped teeth, broken or weak teeth, small/short teeth, gaps, address a low gum line and create a pleasant symmetrical smile.

The material used in veneers is very sturdy however it isn't as strong as your natural tooth enamel. A possible dental emergency that could arise with veneers is chipping due to biting down on a hard surface.

Below are four of the most common types of dental veneers.

Common Types of Veneers:

  • Porcelain veneers. The most expensive since they are the most durable, natural-looking, and stain-resistant type of veneer.

  • Composite veneers. These veneers are made of composite resin, are natural-looking but not as durable or as stain-resistant as porcelain.

  • No-prep veneers. These ultra-thin porcelain veneers can be placed without having to remove enamel or disturb healthy tooth structure.

  • Temporary veneers. These are instant 'snap-on' veneers that sell for $300-$400. They're cheaper in price and quality in comparison to permanent veneers and are not meant for long-term use.

The average lifespan of a veneer is 10-20 years depending on personal dental care. This means that the dental veneers will need to be replaced every 10-20 years.

The lifetime cost of veneers can be very expensive and is one of the more pricey cosmetic dentistry procedures ranging from $800 to $4,000 per tooth. The average fee is around $2,000 dollars per tooth.

Dental Bonding

What is tooth bonding?

Dental bonding, also known as tooth bonding, is a cosmetic dentistry procedure that fixes broken, chipped, or cracked teeth. The treatment also addresses small gaps and discolored teeth. It is common for patients to get dental bonding if they have a gap between two teeth, usually in the front.

The procedure is performed in a dental office where a strong tooth-colored composite resin material is applied.

Tooth bonding is cosmetic dentistry typically done when the tooth repair is minor. A dental professional can tell you whether dental bonding is appropriate or perhaps another procedure is more suitable for your needs.

If a tooth is too damaged — dental implants, dental crowns, bridges, or veneers may be a better alternative. Discussing your dental needs with your dentist will help you determine the best treatment plan.

On average, dental bonding costs between $300 - $600 per tooth, and maintenance needs to be done every 2 to 5 years.

Dental Crowns

A dental crown, also known as a "cap", is placed over a damaged tooth. If you've had a root canal, then you're probably familiar with a dental crown.

This cosmetic dentistry treatment commonly treats teeth that are misshapen, cracked, broken, discolored, or chipped.

Unlike an implant, a dental crown does not require any disturbance below the gum line.

Dental crowns are very durable, there are crowns made out of ceramic, porcelain, resin, gold, and metal.

The average cost of a dental crown is $800 - $1700 and they typically last 10-15 years before they need to be replaced.

Orthodontics

Beautiful straight teeth make for a dazzling and inviting smile. Braces are no longer just for kids. The demand for dental braces has risen greatly in the world of cosmetic dentistry.

Adults with crooked teeth now have more options than ever thanks to modern dental technology. Dentistry treatments such as Invisalign and ceramic "clear" braces offer a near-invisible technology that straightens a patient's teeth discretely.

Metal braces are still very popular mainly amongst kids but some adults still prefer the traditional look as well.

Types of Braces:

  • Metal braces. Traditional silver metal braces are fixed onto the teeth with brackets and metal wires.

  • Ceramic braces. Ceramic braces are similar to traditional braces in that the brackets that go on the teeth are tooth-colored. This makes the appearance more discreet. A metal wire is still used.

  • Self-ligating braces. Similar to ceramic and traditional, self-ligating braces utilize brackets and wires. The difference is that with self-ligating braces, doors or clips are used instead of elastic bands. This technique shortens the appointment time and is suitable for patients that cannot sit in the orthodontist's office very long.

  • Lingual braces. Lingual braces are metal braces that go behind the teeth. You'll need to find a specialized orthodontist for lingual braces.

  • Clear aligners. Clear aligners such as Invisalign and Smile Direct Club are popular for children and adults that need mild to moderate cosmetic dentistry. Aligners are custom-made in a dental laboratory. Invisalign has certain limitations compared to traditional braces when it comes to complex cases.

The cosmetic dentistry treatment plan for most braces is 1-5 years depending on the severity and age of the actual patient. Fixing crooked teeth takes time but it's certainly worth the wait.

With braces, your dental care routine will need to be more intensive to ensure your oral health stays in tip-top shape. A dental assistant can show you flossing techniques specific for traditional braces. If you opt for aligners, you'll be taught how to clean those regularly with special cleaning tablets.

Your dentist may recommend that you get more routine cleanings to ensure optimal dental health.

The average cost of braces ranges from $3,000 - $10,000 with the average being $5,000 to $6,000.

Inlays and Onlays

Inlays and onlays; also referred to as indirect fillings, are used when a tooth is too damaged or decayed for a traditional filling.

A tooth-colored material made of porcelain, composite, or resin is applied to the tooth to prevent further tooth decay.

An inlay goes on the center groove of the tooth.

An onlay is similar to an inlay except it covers more tooth surface area.

Large cavities commonly form due to poor oral health or an injury. When a cavity becomes too large, this is when an inlay or onlay made be needed. An inlay or onlay may also be a suitable alternative to a crown. Meeting with your dentist can help you determine the best route.

This cosmetic dentistry technique requires an impression to be taken of your teeth. That impression is sent to a dental laboratory to create your customized filling.

While the custom inlay or onlay is being created, a temporary one will be created for you. Once it's ready, your dentist will apply it with dental adhesive.

The average cost of inlays and onlays is $250 to $1,500.

Composite Fillings

Composite fillings are tooth-colored fillings that are made out of a plastic acrylic resin substance combined with glass quartz or glass.

Composite fillings are non-toxic, BPA-free, and safe for kids and adults.

They are more prominent than silver fillings since they are discrete and blend right in with the natural color of your teeth.

Patients will often even replace older silver amalgam fillings with composite fillings since they do not contain traces of mercury.

Composite fillings do not last as long as silver and are more expensive. All fillings need to be maintained in order to avoid further tooth decay.

Whether you have silver or composite fillings, it's important to maintain pristine oral health in order to avoid having damaged teeth down the line.

How to take care of your dental fillings:

  • Avoid aggressive tooth brushing
  • Brush, rinse, and floss regularly
  • Do not eat hard foods
  • Do not eat foods that are extremely hot or cold
  • Keep up with your professional dental cleanings + check-ups

    Some forms of cosmetic dentistry are covered by insurance. Talk with your dentist office to find out what's covered under your dental plan.

    On average, composite fillings cost $100 to $250 per tooth and can last 5-10 years.

    Enamel Shaping

    If your teeth have minor imperfections such as unevenness, crowding, or rough edges; enamel shaping can help improve the appearance of your teeth.

    Enamel shaping, also known as dental contouring, is a pain free cosmetic dentistry process where a small amount of a patients tooth enamel is removed in order to change the shape or length of the tooth.

    A dentist sculpts your teeth to create a more symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing smile.

    Compared to other dental procedures, enamel shaping is non-invasive and painless.

    Actual patients can see a huge difference in their new smile since results are instantly noticeable.

    Pros and Cons of Enamel Shaping:

    Pros

    • Affordable. Reasonably priced and sometimes is covered by insurance.

    • Pain free. No after treatment pain makes for a happy patient.

    • Healthier teeth. Patients with less crowding have a lower risk of tartar and plaque build up.

    • A potential alternative to braces. If the dental work is minor, braces may be avoided.

    Cons

    • Change is very subtle. If you're looking for more dramatic results, you may need a different treatment.

    • Potential tooth damage. Enamel is what protects your teeth. If too much is removed, you could be at risk for tooth sensitivity, breakage, or decay.

    On average, enamel shaping can cost $50 to $300 per tooth.

    Gum Reshaping

    If you have a "gummy" smile that causes your teeth to look small or an uneven gum line, gum reshaping can enhance the appearance of your smile.

    Gum reshaping, also known as a gingivectomy or gum contouring, reshapes the gum line.

    The gum tissue is contoured around the tooth to create symmetry and expose more tooth real estate.

    Patients can have this done to one tooth or many to make their smile more attractive.

    Gum contouring may be covered by insurance if the cosmetic dentistry treatment is considered medically necessary.

    On average, the cost of gum reshaping ranges from $50 to $300 per tooth and $100 to $3000 to contour all of your front teeth.

    Other cosmetic dentistry treatments:

    • Bridges. A dental bridge is a set of artificial teeth that fills a gap. The teeth on both sides of the missing tooth or teeth must still be healthy for a secure dental bridge.

    • Dentures. Dentures are artificial teeth that serve as a removable replacement for missing teeth. There are complete and partial types of dentures.

    • Gum grafts. Gum recession (over exposed gums) can give your tooth or teeth an abnormally long appearance, cause sensitivity, or decay. Gum grafts are a cosmetic dentistry treatment that extend a portion of the healthy gum to lower the overall gum line and improve oral health.

    Cosmetic dentists provide a variety of services ranging from minor tweaks to major fixes that require surgery. They're also always up to date on the latest procedures and technology. Most dentists offer a free consultation and flexible financing options with a low-interest rate, or even a 0% interest rate if the procedure is paid within a certain amount of time.

    Dental Implants

    A shortage of teeth not only affects your confidence and the look of your smile, but can also hinder your ability to chew, bite, and speak comfortably.

    Dental implants are a long-lasting way to restore a missing tooth, or missing teeth, using a titanium root. - Matthew Young, DDS

    Source: American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry

    It's common to lose teeth for a variety of reasons. A dental implant replaces a missing or damaged tooth and fits right in with the appearance of your natural teeth.

    Common reasons for missing teeth

    • Genetics
    • Tooth decay
    • Damaged tooth root
    • Failed root canal
    • Disease
    • Accidental injury

      Dental implants also help maintain the alignment of your teeth and work just as well as a healthy tooth.

      Cosmetic dentists insert a metal post into the jawbone under the gum area of the missing tooth. As your jawbone heals, the implanted metal post becomes more stable and secure. The healing process takes a few weeks.

      The dentist then mounts a customized dental crown onto the metal post.

      On average this cosmetic dentistry procedure costs typically $1,000 to $3,000.