Open Wide -- at Your Own Risk

Another thing to keep in mind if you're considering veneers: It's a lifetime commitment. Veneers, on average, cost about $2,500 per tooth and last about 10 years.

One young woman "20/20" learned about had had veneers placed on her teeth when she was just 18 years old. Almost all her teeth were veneered and were ground down so much that she soon needed five root canals, stabilizing posts and crowns to replace her front teeth.

"When you start doing this at a young age. Think about how many times they're going to have it done. So, the more conservative we can be and the longer we can get that restoration to last, the patient benefits and that's what we want to do," Goldstein said.

So while veneers can do wonders to brighten your smile and your life, a skilled dentist is key. But don't rely solely on ads when making that choice because any dentist can claim he or she is a cosmetic specialist. There is no certification needed. As for those enticing after pictures you might see on the walls or in albums in the dentist's office, it turns out they can be very easy to come by.

"20/20" had a gum specialist who had never done cosmetic work before place an order on the Internet for client photos. Sure enough, he got a batch of before-and-after pictures of patients he'd never worked on. They even came in an engraved album complete with a sample cover letter that could easily lead you to believe the work was his.

So be sure to do your homework and ask who did the dental makeovers. Otherwise, you could end up with a look and a smile you never bargained for and a mouth full of very bad work.

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