Snap on veneers are a relatively new dental trend.
They are removable veneers that are typically made without seeing a dentist.
As a dentist myself, I have safety concerns about them being sold to people directly from the internet.
I will explain the reasons for this below and discuss alternative options.
This video overview was put together by our co-founder Jon Love, who has tested snap on veneers.
A quick explainer about how snap on veneers work
Snap on veneers are a removable alternative to traditional dental veneers. They fit over and around your existing teeth.
Snap on veneers use a thin layer of tooth coloured resin to cover up your teeth. These temporary veneers are fitted and removed as and when you like with no need to visit the dentist. They don’t need any dental injections, no cutting of gums or tooth tissue, and no bonding to your real teeth.
Just like traditional veneers, these removable veneers act as a mask over your natural teeth.
There are two main types of snap on veneers:
- Instant veneers with an at home reline material. The fake teeth arrive in the post with a type of glue already attached to them, which you mould at home.
- Snap on veneers personalised to your teeth. The company sends you impressions to do first. You take the impressions of your teeth and send them to the company. The company then produces and sends you the snap on veneers.
To be clear, in this article, snap on veneers refer to instant veneers where you specifically do not see a dentist. Our co-founder Jon Love has tested a type of these called Instasmile, photos of which are included throughout this post.
Snap-On Smile is then a similar but different product. It is a branded product from DenMat. It is produced using a dentist prescription and is not referred to as a snap on veneer unless explicitly mentioned.
How snap on veneers differ to traditional veneers
The biggest difference is that snap on veneers are a removable option solution. They are attached and removed from the teeth by yourself at home.
Traditional dental veneers are a permanent solution that requires a dentist to bond them to your natural teeth. Traditional veneers are made by qualified Dental Technicians who are registered with the General Dental Council (in the UK).
Traditional veneers normally require some cutting of tooth tissue which might also need local anaesthetic injections. But not in all cases.
They can be made for just one tooth, or you can have multiple teeth prepared for veneers.
Impressions are taken of the prepared teeth and these are sent off to a lab. The dental technician produces a custom made device (a registered medical device) from porcelain or similar aesthetic material.
These materials are picked for their hardness, ability to reflect light, and semi-translucency. This is sent back to be fitted by your dentist. Once fitted, they cannot be removed unless you see a dentist.
Snap on veneers are a removable veneer.
You take and send off impressions to the company that makes the moulds. Someone in their laboratory (not necessarily a qualified and registered dental technician) makes your custom fitted snap in teeth.
These will cover multiple teeth at the same time with no gaps between them. You can take them out and put them in as many times as you like, at home. The material used depends on the company, but has some flexibility to allow insertion and removal without breaking. Over time these can change shape and become loose.
Snap on veneers – a dentist’s viewpoint
I can see why people may want snap on veneers. In theory, they are an affordable cosmetic option which should not damage the teeth.
I like the fact that they are minimally invasive — they do not require drilling of the tooth tissue.
But because snap on veneers are not made by dentists or qualified dental technicians, the end product might not be as high quality as you are expecting. The materials used can vary and the final appearance may not be what you had in mind.
Not involving a dentist in the process could mean that you don’t learn about all your options, and not given a realistic assessment of what is possible. I’ve seen some removable veneers companies say the only other option is porcelain veneers, but that is simply not true.
There is also potential for disease to be missed before starting the manufacturing process.
Because there is no regulation over these, we do not know whether they are definitely being made from safe materials.
We also do not know what qualifications the people making these products have. There is no way to know that they are being made in a safe and hygienic way.
Another big concern is lack of transparency by the companies making them. They often allude to “certified technicians” and sometimes even “licensed dentists”. But there is no name associated with these claims, which could be regarded as vague.
Snap on veneers are a risk to natural teeth
The biggest danger and risk of snap on veneers is not taking care of the natural teeth you have. You need to ensure you maintain good oral hygiene standards, even if you are going to wear a snap on smile.
You can get gingivitis (inflamed gums) from your veneers for two different reasons:
- Trauma induced gingivitis because the veneers rub on the edges of the gums, like when you get a blister from shoes rubbing.
- Plaque induced gingivitis because the veneer edges hide more bacteria and plaque compared to not wearing snap on veneers. This is even more likely if you aren’t cleaning your teeth or veneers properly.
If you fail to clean your snap on veneers and your teeth after eating and drinking, you are also more likely to develop tooth decay in your natural teeth.
If you haven’t seen a dentist before starting treatment, you may not know that you already have gum disease and dental decay. Wearing the snap on veneers will worsen these conditions, so make sure you get any required treatment before doing impressions for snap on veneers.
Some veneers can potentially damage the enamel of your teeth, particularly the poorer fitting options. The constant fitting and removal can cause the veneers to rub against the enamel on your natural tooth. This rubbing of the veneer on the natural tooth surface can be worsened if the veneers allow you to eat whilst they are fitted.
To my knowledge, there is no clinical evidence that backs this up, but reports do exist of damage being done as a result of these products. As a dentist, I am familiar with similar damage being caused by removable dentures.
Snap on veneers might not look as good as you expect
The appearance of removable veneers can vary significantly.
Different companies use different materials. This and the customisation processes all affect the look of your clip on veneers.
Some products are going to look better than others, from the materials used to the actual design, fit and finish. The thickness of the material will vary.
Be aware that because these are placed straight on top of your natural teeth, they will look bulky.
The thinner the material the better. Be wary of companies telling you to go for a thicker material to make them last longer. These thicker veneers will look a lot bulkier.
The materials used for snap on veneers will lack the translucency needed to make your teeth look natural. Your teeth are naturally translucent at the tips, and the materials used can’t replicate this.
Removable veneers tend to look dull under the light. They have just one colour and lack the polish of professional veneers. Porcelain is the best material for mimicking natural teeth but is not suitable for removable appliances.
You can choose your shade when picking veneers. Unless you can accurately compare your current shade to the new shade prior to purchase you may find the veneers are not what you imagined. The shade on the screen will look different in real life and in different lights.
Very few people actually suit really white teeth. Teeth naturally have a yellow hue to them, so be aware of this.
The plastic used can also pick up stains from the food and drink you consume.
The final thing to really be aware of is just what the veneers look like in relation to your existing teeth. Whilst the alterations can be for the better, the makeover offered by the veneer can look unnatural and very obvious to those who know you.
A few things to know about impression kits
Taking impressions at home is generally safe. So long as the material sent to you is the real stuff and is in date, you are unlikely to have a reaction. However, there are some things to think about when doing your own impression at home:
- You could have an allergic reaction, so beware if you get any burning sensations or ulcers after.
- Some people struggle with impressions because of their gag reflex. Just something to think about! If this is something you are worried about, make sure you can lean forward whilst you take the impression, and place a towel underneath you to catch any mess.
- Once the impression is in, you need to leave it there until it is fully set. Removing is toot soon will lead to the material “dragging” and the veneers won’t fit as well as they could do.
- Impressions can remove loose teeth, crowns, and fillings. This is pretty rare, and they would have to be already loose. This is another reason to have a full dental checkup before going ahead with any DIY kits.
Comparing the cost of snap on veneers to traditional veneers
One of the biggest factors that draw people to snap on veneers is their cheap cost. This is in comparison to professional dental treatment such as traditional veneers.
But it is not as cheap as you might think.
The most affordable veneers on offer from your dentist are direct composite veneers. These will cost approximately $350-$1000 per tooth. The number you need will depend on the look you want and your existing teeth, but expect to have between 4 and 10 per jaw for a makeover effect.
They last about 5 years and require no alteration to the enamel on your teeth.
Let’s say you were to have 6 veneers on the top and 6 on the bottom row of teeth, that is 12 in total. At $400 per tooth that is a cost of $4,800 in total.
For the sake of comparison, Instasmile Platinum cost approximately $1799 for both arches and come with a 12 month warranty. Even if they last 18 months, you would need to buy 3 sets over a 5 year period at a total cost of approx $5,397.
The composite veneers are actually $497 cheaper!
Given that you can eat all foods and have a safe and long lasting option, and that it is cheaper, why wouldn’t you go for the composite veneers?
Porcelain veneers are the gold standard when it comes to dental veneers and cost between $650 and $2000 per tooth, but should last 12-20 years!
In my example above, you would be looking at a cost of anything from $6,000 to $24,000 to get porcelain.
Of course, this is just an example, but let’s say you pay $9,600 for 12 veneers (at $800 per tooth). You can safely assume they last 15 years (if not longer). That would give an annual cost of $640.
By my calculations that is almost $560 less per year than opting for the Instasmile Platinum veneers (assuming they last 18 months a time).
The reason many opt for snap on veneers is that they are cheaper and more affordable than the veneers they really want, but it just isn’t necessarily true in the long run.
There is a lack of clinical evidence regarding snap on veneers
Although the dental community has some concerns about removable veneers, there is very little evidence available.
This does make it difficult to discuss the issue with patients, because we are relying on our clinical experience alone.
There is also no evidence to support the safety of the direct-to-customer products that are available online.
You should research the complaints procedure before buying
A final comment on why you might not want snap on style veneers from some of these companies is the service received.
Most of the companies are digital only, with no office you can visit should things go wrong. Some don’t even have much of a telephone service! This is not a problem when things go well, but can make it difficult to get in contact when things go wrong.
Because snap on veneers are provided without using a dentist or registered dental technician, there is also no oversight of the quality provided.
There are few people you can turn to if you are unhappy with the service provided. This is different from a dental practice setting, where there are rules about complaints procedures internally and externally.
How professionally made snap on veneers differ to those bought from the internet
Many of the disadvantages and problems with snap on veneers can be overcome by seeing a dentist before starting treatment.
Seeing a dentist will make you fully aware of any risks, and ensure that any existing dental problems are fixed. They can also talk you through the alternatives to see if there are any better options for you.
When researching snap on veneers, on some of the websites we looked at there was no indication that qualified dental technicians are making these things that you want to have attached to your teeth and your gums.
Having a professional dental lab make the products will mean that they need to follow certain rules (for your own safety) and that the best materials can be used. Selecting the right material for the snap on veneer can drastically improve the appearance, durability and safety of the snap on veneers.
If using a dentist and a proper dental lab, you can also expect the best service. Registered dentists and dental technicians must abide by certain expectations. Therefore, if something is not as you would it expect it to be, you have someone to turn to.
The reasons a dentist would prescribe snap on veneers
Some dentists provide snap on veneers as a temporary option to hide teeth that they have prepared for traditional veneers. These temporary veneers will protect the tooth surface until the permanent option arrives.
It could be that you are going through the process of having dental implants, but you do not want to have missing teeth whilst your gum heals.
You can wear a snap on veneer until the abutment and crown for the implant are fitted. This way snap on veneers are used as an alternative to a denture. A dentist might also refer to these as temporary removable bridges.
Snap-On Smile – the original snap on veneers
I said earlier that Snap-on Smile was another name for these types of veneers.
Snap-On Smile is a brand name of a type of clip on veneer made by US Dental Lab DenMat. These are the best quality snap on veneers.
They have a patent, and can only be prescribed by dentists. Your impressions will be taken by a qualified professional. There is even the option to use a scanner for digital impressions, eliminating the need for messy and uncomfortable traditional impressions.
The dentist has choices in the size and colour of the veneers, as well as full and partial arches.
Tooth whitening, tooth straightening or composite veneers are alternative options
The alternative to snap on veneers depends on why you want them in the first place. You should arrange an appointment with a dentist to discuss different treatment options personalised to you.
In the meantime, have a think about what your reasons are for selecting snap on veneers rather than a treatment offered by a dentist. A good dentist will have an honest conversation with you about this, and can discuss all the options available.
Don’t want injections or drilling? Think about tooth whitening or composite veneers.
If you want the cheapest option: Whitening available from $350 in some places, and direct composite veneers from as little as $350 per tooth. In both cases, the results will last longer than the life expectancy of snap on veneers.
If you want straighter teeth without injections or drilling, consider orthodontic treatment (including Invisalign).
If you want to fill gaps between teeth, white filling material can be placed without the need for drilling.
Whitening your teeth will take about six weeks by the time you see a dentist, get trays returned and start to see an effect. Composite veneers can be done quickly, depending on how much tooth is covered. Expect it to take 20-40 minutes per tooth.
Snap on veneers are not a good alternative to dentures
Removable veneers can be made so that they are almost like flexible dentures.
These do have some advantages in terms of comfort compared to traditional dentures. It also doesn’t cover the roof of the mouth or get in the way of the tongue. They could be a good short term option after an extraction, until the months have passed and the bone has finished healing.
But removable veneers are not the best option for filling multiple gaps. And they are not an option if you have no teeth at all.
Dentists will generally advise sticking with a denture over some sort of temporary solution like clip on veneers. This is because the denture is designed to last longer. A traditional denture is able to withstand more pressures and remain in place (in most cases) when eating and drinking.
Take home messages
In few instances would a dental professional recommend removable veneers.
More often than not, the results that these direct-to-customer clip on solutions offer are far inferior to those offered by a dentist.
There is a significant variance in the quality, durability, materials, look and overall results you get from these snap on smiles, not to mention the customer service.
As a temporary solution, professionally made removable veneers do have a role to play.
They certainly serve a purpose. But when it really comes down to it these cheap veneers are not a viable alternative to the veneers offered by a dentist. They are too fragile, require additional maintenance and simply do not look as good and potentially pose a long term risk to your natural teeth.
These devices aren’t made by people registered with a dental regulatory body and so you cannot be sure of what it is that you are putting in your mouth.
My concerns relate mostly around the actual product and risks with them. There is one company you can use through your dentist who will provide a very similar product. By seeing a dentist you will be made aware of all the potential risks and hazards that manufacturers won’t discuss with you.
There is the risk of reaction to materials, or them being of sub standard quality. Devices like these can also become stuck on your teeth requiring emergency dental treatment. The alternative is that they become loose and are a choking hazard. When used incorrectly, and with failure to keep your teeth clean, you also increase your risk of dental decay and gum disease.
The aesthetics don’t compare to professionally made products. Instant veneers are made of a plastic with no translucency. This will look obvious in the mouth. The plastic is also vulnerable to staining and wear.
Personally, I don’t think the majority of companies are being honest in what they are promising people who buy their products. They are promising a cheap alternative to professional care. Some of the options available are not as cheap as some of the professional options, and will not fulfil the promise of looking good.
Do you own or have you used a set or removable veneers?
Why did you choose them and what do you think about them?
Are there certain things that you really like or dislike?
Let me and other readers of this article know what you think, by commenting below. Your feedback and opinions are incredibly valuable.