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Orthodontics vs Cosmetic Dentistry

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Medically reviewed by: Dr Anthony Lam BDS (Hons), MSc (Lond), MOrth RCS (Edin)

7th September 2020
Orthodontics vs veneers

Cosmetic dentistry vs orthodontics

If you’re looking to improve your smile you’ll quickly find that there is no shortage of solutions. You can achieve a brighter smile with the help of professional teeth whitening, replace missing teeth with dental implants, and remodel misshapen teeth with the help of tooth reshaping and bonding.

For most dental problems there is usually a solution, and in some cases there are two! If you are looking for a way to straighten your teeth you have probably done your research and discovered that both veneers and braces can be used to achieve a beautifully aligned smile. However, they both accomplish this in very different ways.


Dental veneers are a cosmetic dental treatment, so their main aim is to improve the appearance of your smile. They work by covering up crooked teeth using thin porcelain overlays creating a ‘perfect’ smile in the space of a few appointments.

Veneers can change the shape, size and colour of your teeth, so the results can be amazing. One important drawback though is that to fit your veneers, your cosmetic dentist will need to remove some of your natural tooth, how much is removed depends on how crooked your teeth are to begin with. This ensures your veneers fit well and look natural, but it’s also irreversible.

It’s also likely that you’ll need to replace your veneers at some point – like your natural teeth they’re not indestructible and over time your gums will recede creating a gap between your veneers and gum line – just ask Katie Price!

Katie Price Veneers

Image Credit: YouTube / Katie Price Official


For many patients, orthodontics could also be seen as a cosmetic dental treatment, but it’s capable of so much more. Not only can braces transform the appearance of your smile but they can also deliver other benefits.

Braces vs veneers

Crooked teeth can sometimes be more difficult to keep clean, so by straightening them out it makes it easier for you to reach and clean every surface. Severely crooked teeth, and in particular front teeth that protrude, can also leave you more at risk of accidental damage. Orthodontics can even help to improve the way your teeth and jaws bite together and function.

But, what if your main concern is the appearance of your teeth, then why choose braces when veneers offer a much quicker alternative?

While it’s true that orthodontic treatment is not an overnight fix, and treatment can take months or even years, the benefits include life-long results and no damage to your tooth tissue. Providing you wear your retainers, your teeth will remain straight and you won’t find yourself needing to fund more treatment in the future.

And if you’re worried about the prospect of wearing train tracks, you’ll be pleased to hear that braces come in all kinds of discreet forms, including Invisalign clear aligners and hidden lingual braces.

Teeth whitening

Many patients who want straighter teeth would like whiter teeth, too. Veneers can change the shape and colour of your teeth all at the same time. If you opt for braces you can whiten your teeth (subject to suitability) at the end of your treatment.

There are two ways to whiten teeth professionally. You can visit your dentist for in-clinic whitening, which involves applying a whitening gel to your teeth while you sit back and relax. Sometimes an LED light is used to speed up the process.

Alternatively, you can opt for an at-home whitening kit. This will consist of custom-made whitening trays and whitening gel. You’ll be given full instructions, but you simply pop the gel in the trays and wear them at night until you reach your desired shade.

It’s now illegal for anyone other than a qualified dental professional to provide whitening treatments.

Tooth reshaping and bonding

If you have any small or misshapen teeth, that doesn’t necessarily mean that veneers are your only option. Following orthodontic treatment, your teeth can be reshaped using contouring and bonding techniques. Using tooth-coloured composite your dentist will be able to carefully reshape minor irregularities for a natural, beautiful result.

The next steps

As specialist orthodontists and orthodontic therapists we only straighten teeth, so we would be delighted to talk to you about orthodontic treatment. Every patient is entitled to a free no-obligation consultation with a treatment coordinator to discuss treatment and payment options.

If you are considering a cosmetic dental treatment such as veneers we recommend that you see your general dentist in the first instance. If they can’t help they will be able to refer you on to a cosmetic dentist who can and visit us to discuss the results you’ll achieve without irreversible damage to your teeth

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