Last June, as a high school graduation gift for my nephew, I said I’d pay for his dental work. I assumed he would choose ortho because that’s really what he needs. Unfortunately, he feels ortho takes too long and he wants to have Lumineers which his dentist is saying will cost $18,000 for eighteen teeth. My nephew knows that they only last twenty years, but he wants a new smile now so he can pursue an acting career. What do I tell him? Thanks!!!
– Jason from California
Thanks for writing. I think I can really help you out here.
Since you’re paying for this, I assume you have to approve how this is done. Since you’re older and more mature, I hope you’ll exercise your right to be a guiding hand here, because I worry that your nephew is going to do something short-sighted, waste your money, and waste his opportunity. When you’re old enough to have been scammed a few times, hopefully you become more cautious and more wise.
Lumineers are just one brand of porcelain veneers, and in the opinion of many cosmetic dentists, including me, they are of lower quality – meaning of lower esthetic quality – than most other brands.
I’m going to guess that his main problem is crooked teeth, because you’re saying he needs ortho.
There are two excellent options, and which one you buy for your nephew depends on the situation in his mouth.
And here are the two options:
One would be Invisalign invisible braces. Your nephew, as a recent high school graduate, will have all his permanent teeth erupted already, meaning that he could be a candidate for Invisalign. And a nice thing about Invisalign is he could be bleaching his teeth with the Invisalign aligners at the same time. He would avoid the uncomfortable brackets of traditional braces, and would be done in 6 to 12 months, instead of the 2 years that regular braces require.
The other option would be porcelain veneers. Lumineers are a brand of porcelain veneers, but I get a lot of complaints of people with Lumineers who find they are too bulky, the teeth look chalky and not real, and they make the teeth longer. And when they are done on the lower teeth, I have had complaints of people saying they can’t close their teeth normally after they are done. I would find an excellent cosmetic dentist to do this, and I would stay away from a regular family dentist. Only about 2% of dentists are artistic enough to do a beautiful smile makeover.
Porcelain veneers will make the teeth look straight without making them actually straight. So that has to be weighed in this decision. But it’s not accurate to say they will last 20 years. There is no set lifespan on them, and how long they last depends absolutely on how well they are taken care of. If they aren’t well cared for, they could get cavities around the edges or start staining, and they may only last 5-7 years. If they are cared for carefully, they could last longer than 20 years. Either way, though, they are a maintenance burden, and having the teeth straightened with Invisalign will be trouble-free for the rest of his life.
But porcelain veneers give straight teeth in just two appointments. To a young man, I can understand how even 6 to 12 months can seem too long to wait for results.
Another item I want to discuss is doing porcelain veneers on the lower teeth. Cosmetic dentists usually don’t do veneers on lower teeth. Usually, they can just be bleached, and the case will look beautiful, because lower teeth just don’t show much when you smile. So, since they’re spending your money, you may want to be in on that decision. That’s why it would help to go to a cosmetic dentist you know is respected and who will be honest with you.
If I were you, I would pick the dentist for your nephew and that way you know you’re spending your money wisely. I would have two suggestions. One would be Dr. Les Latner, a highly respected cosmetic dentist who also teaches at UCLA and has a practice right in Los Angeles. He will be more expensive per tooth than this other dentist, but I am worried that the other dentist is over-treating. So the final result may be considerably less. The other dentist would be Dr. Dell Goodrick in Santa Clarita. He has done beauty queens and is well known for his beautiful cosmetic dentistry. Both of these dentists are qualified in creating beautiful porcelain veneers, or in doing Invisalign, so they could give an excellent opinion to your nephew on the pros and cons of each choice as it relates to the condition of his mouth.
I hope this is helpful.
– Dr. Hall
Jason wrote back, and I responded with an evaluation of the dentist his nephew was going to go to and comments on his nephew’s photograph. You’ll want to read this one. Check out my reply – warning about an impending Lumineers disaster.