Are veneers or clear aligners better for straightening crooked teeth? Both of these treatments are popular with Australians who want to modify their smiles, and they both have their pros and cons.

Ultimately, you'll need to talk to a dental professional in order to fully assess which option makes the most sense for you and your smile. But keep reading for a quick comparison of both!

What are veneers?

Dental veneers are restorations added to the front surface of your teeth that can change their shape and appearance. Veneers can change the look of discoloured teeth, close small gaps, cover up damage or bring slightly crooked teeth in line.

Veneers are usually made of porcelain or composite resin. Porcelain veneers need to be specially manufactured to be a perfect fit for your mouth, while composite veneers are layered directly onto the tooth surface.

What are clear aligners?

Clear aligners are a type of orthodontic treatment and a popular alternative to metal braces. Invisalign is one of the most well-known examples of clear aligners. When you these aligners, your dentist will take impressions of your mouth - these allow us actually create the aligners, which are then replaced every few weeks. As you cycle through your aligners, they gradually move your teeth into the correct position.

Clear aligners are popular with people who want a less noticeable treatment than traditional metal braces. Because you can remove the aligners yourself, you can also take them out for certain meals or special occasions, making them a more flexible option.

Which treatment is faster?

Short answer: veneers, usually. Long answer: you need to consider your overall goals and oral health to determine which one is right for you, regardless of treatment time.

Generally, veneers produce a more immediate change to your smile. Porcelain veneers might take longer to complete than composite veneers because they're usually made off-site and fitted to your teeth in a follow-up appointment. Composite resin veneers can sometimes be completed in a single visit.

Clear aligners are a type of orthodontic treatment, which means the goal is to make more long-lasting changes to your smile and bite. They're designed to work gradually over time. Depending on how much work needs to be done, this treatment can be completed in a few months or one to two years.

Which treatment costs less?

Veneers are often more expensive than clear aligners, in total. The cost of veneers depends on the material you choose and the number of teeth you're having treated. Porcelain veneers can be around twice the cost of composite veneers, although they can also be more durable.

The cost of a treatment like Invisalign also tends to be spread out over the course of your treatment, which can help to make it more affordable. Because both of these treatments vary based on how much work you need, you’ll need to talk with your preferred dental provider to understand exact costs. Be sure to mention any pricing concerns or budget constraints so that your dentist can better advise you on your options.

Which has longer-lasting results?

Short answer: it depends!

Porcelain veneers tend to last about 10 years.[1] This assumes proper care of your veneers, though. You can help to extend the life of your veneers by avoiding hard and crunchy foods and activities that could put them at risk of damage, such as contact sports (learn more about custom mouthguards).

Clear aligners can change your smile for life but this depends on how well you follow your dentist's instructions after finishing treatment. Using your retainer properly can help you minimise the chance of your teeth eventually shifting back into place.

Which treatment is safer?

Both treatments are considered safe and don't usually involve invasive surgery. However, veneers do require that the surface of your teeth is permanently altered to allow the veneers to fit and bond correctly.

While veneers are a cosmetic treatment and generally don't have a significant impact on your health, clear aligners are an orthodontic treatment that can benefit your oral health.

Which treatment can I get?

Your dentist will tell you whether you're a candidate for these treatments once they've finished your oral health assessment. If you have a condition such as tooth decay or gum disease, this will need to be treated first before you begin another treatment.

There are also other health factors that your dentist may take into consideration when recommending a treatment. For example, veneers may not be the best option if you grind your teeth, if you have an improper bite that puts some of your teeth under excess pressure, or if your teeth are overly worn or damaged. Likewise, clear aligners may not be suitable if your teeth or bite require a more intensive orthodontic treatment, such as metal braces.

Can I have both?

Depending on how you want your smile to look, both treatments may be the right option for you.

Typically, you’ll need to complete any orthodontic treatment first - this can reduce the number of veneers you need and preserve more of your tooth structure. If you already have veneers, you may still be a candidate for clear aligners, since the plastic aligners don't put as much pressure on your teeth as traditional braces.

Again, you should talk to a qualified dental professional who can examine your teeth and bite and recommend a treatment plan.

Many Bupa Dental clinics offer both treatments. If you’d like to learn more, find your nearest clinic and get in touch with one of our friendly teams!


[1] Dumfahrt, H, Schäffer, H. Porcelain Laminate Veneers. A Retrospective Evaluation After 1 to 10 Years of Service: Part II-- Clinical Results. International Journal of Prosthodontics. 2000; vol. 13(1): 9-18.