You may feel conscious about the way your natural teeth look. They might not be aligned correctly, maybe a tooth is chipped or maybe the teeth are a little dull in color.
A veneer is an option to those who want to take steps to improve their smile.
Veneers not only allow for the shape, size and color of your teeth to be changed, but also mask the cracks, chips and imperfections in your teeth.
In this guide we cover all you need to know about the topic of veneers, from understanding what they are, who they are for, what the process is to get them, what the costs are and ultimately whether they are right for you.
What are dental veneers?
The American Dental Association state that ‘A veneer is a thin covering that is placed over the front (visible) part of the tooth. It looks like a natural tooth and can be used to correct a wide range of dental issues’.
It is much like a false or artificial nail extension.
It is a man made product that is specifically designed to improve the look of the teeth and the smile.
A veneer plays no role in improving a tooth’s health or structure, in fact veneers can only be attached to healthy teeth.
However, it can cosmetically improve the look of teeth, masking chips, wear or discoloration that might exist on the current teeth.
Attached to single teeth, you can specify what you want from a veneer and the cosmetic dentist will help achieve the results you want. From changing the color of your teeth, to covering gaps and even making short teeth appear longer.
Veneers are capable of lasting 5-20 years, depending on the material used. Once fitted you can live life normally, with the benefit of a new and improved smile.
When are they used or why would I want them?
Veneers are a flexible solution for the dentist to use when it comes to adapting the smile of patients.
It is not as invasive or time consuming as orthodontic work and can deliver many benefits that would typically require multiple treatments.
Where a cosmetic whitening process can only adjust the tooth color, veneers can change the tooth color, look, shape and size, essentially offering an all in one solution for those who want to alter their smile. When veneers have been placed they can help make your teeth appear straighter from the front.
Those wishing to adapt the way that their front teeth and smile look tend to opt for veneers, because they can:
- Change tooth color
- Improve alignment
- Close small gaps in the teeth
- Change the tooth shape
- Repair chipped and damaged teeth
- Improve worn teeth
- Improve the damage done by bruxism
- Are a less intrusive option than crowns
Further explanation of each reason is provided below.
- Change tooth color
Whilst cosmetic tooth whitening may well work for some, it is not the solution for all.
Tooth whitening makes your teeth whiter in color, but will not change the appearance of fillings -- white or metal. And depending on the treatment approaches selected, tooth whitening may reverse or not last for all that long. This is particularly the case if your diet and lifestyle contain choices that are known to stain the teeth; smoking, tea, coffee and red wine being just a few examples.
Exposure to certain medical treatments and antibiotics is known to cause tooth discoloration. Sometimes this discolouration cannot be fully removed, even with whitening treatments.
Sensitivity in the teeth may mean that traditional whitening techniques are not suitable for you.
With the right veneers you can achieve a brighter and whiter smile.
- Improve alignment
Wonky, crooked, angled, however you consider the teeth in your smile to be positioned, you may think that braces are the necessary solution.
For both children and even young adults, braces are a good long term option to change the position of your teeth. Thanks to advances it may not even need to be an all metal brace as you might have thought. There are even invisible looking braces available today.
Braces can be expensive and take a long time to work though. They also require a lifetime of wearing retainers to avoid the teeth moving again.
Instead, veneers can be used to make your smile appear more aligned, without physically moving the teeth. The dental veneers are moulded and positioned in the front of the tooth in such a way that post fitting you would never know that behind the veneer sits an angled or wonky tooth.
- Close small gaps between teeth
Just like wonky teeth, many of us have gaps between our teeth, some bigger than others.
Veneers can cover up smaller gaps and make it appear like your teeth are all aligned.
The dentist can shape the veneer to be slightly larger than the tooth, this means that the veneer will then extend over the gap and from a face on view will no longer exist.
- Change the tooth shape
Veneers are shaped to your requirements. This means that if you have naturally short teeth but want longer teeth, then veneers give this exact option. The veneers can be shaped in such a way that the tooth has more curvature, length or a more fanged look to it if you desire.
- Repair chipped and damaged teeth
Veneers have to be fitted to healthy teeth to be successful and deliver the best results, but our teeth can still have chips or small cracks in them but be healthy.
However, a chip for some, particularly on those teeth you see first can be unsightly or embarrassing.
A veneer can overcome such an issue and restore the look of the tooth.
- Improve worn teeth
Ageing and life will even with the best dental care take its toll on the teeth.
The natural tooth enamel can become worn or dulled through the food and drink we consume, not to mention certain medications we may have to take.
Veneers are a great way of giving the appearance of a better smile and teeth, whilst helping retain the natural tooth too.
- Improve the damage done by bruxism
Bruxism is a condition whereby the teeth are worn by the grinding of upper and lower teeth.
Over time the condition affects the way teeth look whilst often inducing extra sensitivity because the protective enamel layer is damaged and the underlying dentine layer is exposed.
Veneers restore the natural look of worn teeth. Veneers also protects the enamel by acting as a barrier and reducing the sensitivity that might have once been felt.
- Less intrusive option
Popular porcelain veneers do require a small layer of enamel to be removed from the teeth to be fitted, but there is no need for invasive surgery with lots of dental implements and drills that many of us are wary of.
This is because the veneer materials can be used in a really thin section, unlike traditional crown materials. Because veneers are often placed only on the front teeth, and on those teeth only of the front and biting surface, only those surfaces need any preparation. In some cases, the teeth may not need any drilling at all.
It therefore is a less intrusive procedure and not as scary as you might think to get the results you really want.
Veneers need to essentially be glued to a surface to be stuck and remain in place.
These can only be stuck to teeth that are for the most part healthy, if not cosmetically to the standard you want.
Veneers are suitable for almost all patients, but if you have decay, gum disease and signs of poor oral health you will likely be rejected for treatment until such time as those conditions are resolved, if at all possible.
Dentists want veneers to stay in place and for you to get the results you desire, so unless you must, as a general rule, comply to the following conditions.
- Have specific goals that can only be achieved through cosmetic treatment.
- Realistic expectations.
- Good overall dental health with no signs of dental decay or gum disease.
- Be committed to proper oral care and hygiene.
- A sufficient layer of enamel on the tooth.
History of veneers
It may come as no surprise that the ‘perfect smile’ we want and long for came from the film industry, notably Hollywood.
In 1928 a dentist by the name Dr Charles Pincus came up with veneers as a way to enhance the smile of the on screen actors during this era.
At the time, they were temporary solutions that were stuck to the natural teeth of the actors. The look soon became a trademark of Hollywood, hence the term ‘Hollywood smile’.
Back in the early part of the 20th century the medical and technological profession had yet to create a glue or bonding agent that could keep these porcelain veneers attached for long periods of time, like they can today.
This did not stop Pincus. In 1937 he used denture adhesive as a way of gluing in place the acrylic veneers he had fabricated. These were temporary as there was little adhesion.
Things changed in the 1960’s when Dr Michael Bunocore found that a process called ‘etching. This is the use of a mild acidic solution to roughen the surface of the tooth and remove debris often not seen by the naked eye. This makes for a stronger surface onto which dentists can bond or stick things down.
Initially this was applicable only to other dental procedures such as sealing and restorations. However, in 1982 J.R. Calamia and R.J. Simonsen applied Dr. Bunocore’s techniques to the application of porcelain veneers. Using hydrofluoric acid the adhesion of porcelain veneers was achieved.
Since then the popularity of veneers has increased and much more research has been completed.
Modern bonding agents (glues) can help keep veneers in place for up to 30 years.
Types of veneer
If you are already familiar with veneers, a word closely associated with such is ‘porcelain’.
Porcelain has and will for a long time remain as the go to option for most cosmetic dentists as although costly, it provides the best cosmetic results.
There are many cases though were porcelain is not the only option. Composites are used too.
Further advances in technology does now allow for additional options for the dentist and for us as patients.
The variety of choice helps find solutions that fit different budgets and personal circumstance.
The choices you have are:
- Composite veneers
- Porcelain veneers
- Minimal-prep (ultra-thin) veneers
- No prep veneers
- Snap-on/removable veneers
- Instant veneers
Composite veneers are most often used to fix small cosmetic issues such as a chip of cracked teeth. Composite is the material used by dentists for regular white fillings, however different brands can have a more natural look.
Composite veneers are made by the dentist whilst you are in the chair.
It requires a careful crafting process on the dentists part. The dentists builds up layers of the composite material and cures it with a special light, in order to harden the composite. The dentist is able to polish and shape these veneers whilst you are in the chair to produce a quality finish that can restore a more natural look and feel to the tooth.
It is an instant/while-you-wait solution where the dentist is making the veneer on the spot and not having to send off for a specialist technician to make the restoration for you.
Whilst composite veneers can be used to form a much larger smile makeover, helping to alter crooked teeth and cover up a gap, it is porcelain veneers that tend to be best suited to these larger smile alterations. Composites work well for smaller alterations.
Composite veneers do not normally require the surface layer of enamel on the tooth to be worn down for fitting, which does mean there are no issues with tooth sensitivity.
A big downside is that these veneers will stain more easily. Good oral hygiene and regular polishing can help. But the average life for a composite veneer will usually be 5 years or so.
- Cheaper -- Although more time is spent in the dentists chair whilst they are created, the material is more cost effective and the whole process cheaper.
- Speed -- Can be made quickly, whilst you are in the dentist’s chair and does not require you to come back for a fitting appointment.
- Enamel removal not necessary -- If the intention is to make a tooth longer or repair a chip, it may not be necessary to have the external layer of enamel removed.
- Reversible -- If the outer layer of enamel has not been removed, a composite veneer is removable and the whole process reversible.
- Less sensitivity – As there is no removal of enamel, you are less likely to have sensitivity after the appointment.
- Easy to adjust – The dentist has the materials available to them whenever you are they, so they can easily make additions or changes whenever you want.
- Less damage to other teeth – The composite material is softer than porcelain. If you grind your teeth you will not wear through the teeth in the opposite arch (e.g. lower teeth if you veneer the upper teeth).
- Look -- The final look or aesthetic appearance can be less convincing than porcelain.
- Durability -- Expect composite veneers to need replacing within about 5 years as the material starts to wear, chip away and stain.
- Suitability -- Work well for a chipped tooth or 2, but less ideal for larger smile makeovers.
- Time – you may have to lie back in the chair for a long time whilst the dentist carefully applies the layers of composite, and then polishes them at the end. In some “no prep” veneer options you will spend less time in the chair.
What most know and understand when it comes to veneers. This is the treatment that many of the big name celebrities have had.
Versatile in their application, they offer one of the best options for improving the color, shape and look of the teeth to which they are applied. If you are wanting a full smile makeover, this is what most go for.
At 0.5mm thick the porcelain veneer is surprisingly strong and is the best material for giving the for replicating the sheen and appearance of an all natural tooth.
The man made veneers are crafted by highly trained specialists in a dental lab.
They painstakingly craft each veneer to get the ideal fit and finish for your teeth.
A thin layer of enamel on the teeth does need to be removed in order to fit them. But once fitted, the tooth will be no thicker than your natural tooth that existed before.
Some people will suffer with sensitivity as a result of having their teeth ground down, but the results can be worth it.
Once you opt for these veneers you have to have them for life. A veneer with good maintenance can last 10-15 or even as long as 20 years, but subject to your age you may require a few new veneers over your lifetime.
It is not possible to go without replacements as the natural enamel on the tooth has been worn away.
- Look and feel -- Porcelain has the most natural look and feel of the materials available.
- Durability -- They can last 10-20 years and do not stain.
- Strength -- Less likely to break and can even give extra rigidity to teeth that may have slight damage, but do not require a crown.
- Wear opposite teeth – If you grind your teeth there is a risk that the very hard porcelain will wear through the teeth in the opposing arch.
- Cost -- Most expensive option and usually double that of composite material option.
- Enamel removal -- Necessary to have enamel removed from the tooth surface for the veneers to be stuck too.
- Veneers for life -- Once you have porcelain veneers made this decision is something you have to stick with for the rest of your life. You cannot go back to your natural teeth. Therefore you incur the costs that come with them too.
Minimal prep (ultra-thin) veneers -- Lumineers
No doubt these are going to become more popular over the coming years as they have the same advantages as traditional veneers, but with less downsides.
In fact a smile transformed with minimal prep veneers, is in most cases completely reversible.
Removing enamel is rarely required.
Each veneer is a super thin 0.2mm thick, half the thickness of traditional porcelain veneers.
The veneers, are still made of porcelain, but a different mix compared to regular veneers.
Lumineers are considered one of the leading brands to offer these ultra thin options, but Vivaneers and DURAthin are 2 other choices.
Using impressions taken, each veneer is crafted by specialist in a lab, but the technology means they are much thinner and offer the advantages that they do.
The treatment process typically takes two visits to the dentist.
- Look -- The porcelain sheen and translucency gives a result that best mimics the natural teeth compared to composite.
- No enamel removal -- In most cases the enamel on the natural surface of the tooth does not need to be removed for fitting.
- Thinness -- Lumineers are just 0.2mm thin (half that of traditional veneers), but are still made of medical grade porcelain for a great look.
- Longevity -- Can last for up to 20 years.
- Fully reversible -- Because in most instances, no enamel was removed for fitting, they can be removed or changed at a later date if required.
- Cost -- Despite being a newer and more technically advanced approach the costs are equivalent to or slightly higher than traditional porcelain veneers.
No prep veneers -- CEREC
The pinnacle of state of the art technology, Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramic (CEREC) is also known as same day or single day dentistry.
Dentists can design and make your veneer whilst you wait.
State of the art digital scanners take pictures of the inside of your mouth and load them straight to the computer. CAD/CAM technology is then used to design veneers for your teeth on the computer.
Once all is designed to spec, it is sent off to a cross between a 3D printer and milling machine. A porcelain is precision crafted in a matter of minutes, by the machine and is ready to fit, with very little waiting time.
As a result, the process is quick and there is no need for a second visit.
In theory this does should reduce the cost, but dental offices invest huge sums of money into these pieces of equipment, so presently costs tend to be quite high to recoup these costs and cover the convenience element it offers.
You get the same great benefits as standard porcelain veneers, but a word of caution with such treatment.
Although dentists in their own right are highly skilled, it takes a whole new skill to actually craft a veneer. It is like an art, you need to have an eye for producing veneers with an excellent cosmetic finish. This is something specialist dental technicians train long and hard for, particularly with more complex veneers.
You may wish to see examples of transformations completed on other patients. With CEREC technology, color manipulation is particularly difficult to master, but dentists can perfect the veneer as it is fitted.
- Speed -- The veneer can be designed, made and fitted the same day.
- Look and feel -- Made of porcelain they give an excellent look and feel
- Durability -- They can last 10-15 years and do not stain.
- No enamel removal -- In many cases there is no need for the enamel to be removed before fitting.
- Cost -- Although quick, the expensive equipment required influences the costs of the veneers.
- Suitability -- Better suited to those who need 1-4 veneers only.
- Look -- Best results might not be achieved unless the dentist is very skilled, particularly if going for more of a whole smile makeover.
Snap-on or removable veneers as they are known are another relatively new option, but perhaps not one that dentists would go to as their main recommendation for most patients.
Made from a dental resin that is strong and hard wearing and as the name suggests they can be removed and replaced as and when you see fit.
Although different, you might consider it a bit like a removable denture. When in the mouth, it has the look you want, when out, you have your natural teeth on show.
With a snap-on veneer, you can eat and drink as you would normally. You just remove it to clean the veneer each day.
No alterations are needed to your existing teeth.
The dentist will take an impression of you existing teeth to create moulds. As with all other veneers, you will discuss the shade and style you want.
In a short period of time, the snap-on veneers come back from the dental lab where they were made ready for you to use.
They are a great way to quickly correct simpler cosmetic dental problems, but few dentists would advise them as a long term option.
They are certainly a more cost effective option for those wanting some form of cosmetic treatment but cannot afford more extensive procedures. They can be an option for those who are thinking about traditional veneers, but want to try their new look before committing to the more permanent option.
- Price -- Much cheaper than traditional veneers.
- Removable -- You can have that perfect smile as and when you want it, not all the time.
- Trial run -- A good option for those wishing to get an idea of what their new look teeth might be like, before committing.
- Durable -- Made from resin that are hard wearing and should last a fair amount of time.
- Cleaning -- Need removing and to be cleaned regularly.
- Not permanent -- They are not a long term solution as they are designed to be removed.
- Look -- Whilst they do the job, they do not have the same look and feel as higher quality porcelain veneers.
Somewhat of a crossover between porcelain and composite veneers, instant veneers are pre-made rather than completely custom to you.
The dentist has a range of styles and shades available that can be combined to get the best look based on your teeth.
Much cheaper as the process can be completed relatively quickly in just one visit.
Capable of improving the look of your smile, they may not provide the absolute best result as they are not custom made, but the benefit is far less expense to achieve the results.
- Price -- Much cheaper as less time required of the professionals.
- Speed -- Less visits required to obtain the treatment and get the work completed as it uses off the shelf parts.
- Look -- They tend not to look as good as the custom made veneers.
- Flexibility -- Dentists are limited in the flexibility they have to make the smile you want as they have to work with the options that they have.
Advantages and disadvantages of veneers
Having considered the different types of materials and veneer options that you have, it is worth looking at the positives and negatives associated with veneers in general.
- Veneers can provide your teeth and smile with a very natural look and appearance (filling gaps, wonky or damaged teeth), despite being artificial.
- Retains more of the natural tooth than crowns do, although porcelain veneers in particular require a layer of enamel to be removed.
- You have the choice of how many veneers you have, what they do and how white they are.
- Most veneers are stain resistant.
- Gum tissues tolerate porcelain well.
- Options for all budgets.
- Veneers can be decided upon, designed and fitted within a few weeks.
- The process for the most popular porcelain veneers is not reversible as enamel is worn down. You need to have veneers for the rest of your life.
- Depending on the veneers, they can last 5 years (composite) up to 15-20 years (porcelain).
- For those who have enamel worn down, there may well be extra sensitivity in the teeth with hot and cold foot and drink.
- For those who grind their teeth, the hard porcelain may wear down teeth in the opposing arch.
- You still need to brush and floss regularly along with dental checkups.
- Whilst there are veneers for all budgets, the best are expensive and cannot normally be repaired if chipped or damaged.
- Depending on the number of teeth and color opted for it can be difficult to get a perfect match with natural teeth.
- Although unlikely, unusual pressure on the veneers may break them.
- Natural teeth under the veneer is still susceptible to decay.
- If not cleaned properly, bacteria can get trapped around the top of the veneer causing gum disease.
Getting veneers -- the process
If you think you want or that veneers are suitable for you, before committing to any treatment, you need to seek out the opinion of a professional to reaffirm your thoughts and present the options to you of what is actually possible.
The more research you can do before an initial consultation the better the consultation will be as you can ask questions and understand the whole treatment process more.
Different dentists and dental offices have different procedures as well as each patient having different needs, so the steps taken are not necessarily the same for one patient as it is another.
Having done some of your own research, is you are ready to take more seriously the idea of having veneers, the next step is to make contact with your dental office and schedule a consultation.
Different dental practices may have slightly different procedures. You might be able to to see a dentist in your normal practice, or in many cases other specialists in the practice talk with you about the possible treatment options.
You will be asked to explain what it is you want or what is bothering you with your smile and what you want to achieve. An oral examination, and x-rays will often be taken to allow for decisions to be made based on the facts that the examinations produce. It may well be you are suitable for treatment or veneers are even the right choice for what you want.
Consideration will be made for your health, age, budget as well as what you want your smile to look like.
Impressions may well be taken at this stage too.
Many practices now use state of the art computer technology to show you exactly what your smile will look like based on what you asked for. 3D images give you a realistic view of your new smile.
Other practices will used mockups using wax.
Ultimately either will allow you and the dentist to get a better final impression of the final results, so that you can give the final sign off. It is important to be honest if you are not 100% happy. The dentist will not take it personally and would rather have a happy patient at the end.
A cost for the treatment will be provided along with a thorough explanation of the process to ensure you understand what is involved, prior to committing to any cosmetic treatment.
All of this should allow you to make your final decision.
You do not need to make a decision right away, don’t be forced into making one there and then.
Take time to consider everything you have been told and whether this is the cosmetic procedure you really want.
As and when you do decide to go ahead, if at all, the following explains a typical procedure for a patient getting the porcelain dental veneers. The procedure is usually over 2 visits to the dentist’s office.
The fitting process -- 1st visit
Once you have committed to getting your porcelain veneers the first stage of the process is to prepare the teeth.
With your consent to proceed, the dentist will begin to remove a thin layer of enamel from the teeth to which veneers will be attached. Local aesthetic is not always required as only a small amount of drilling is required. However, if you would prefer to be numb, explain this to your dentist.
About 0.5mm of the outermost surface of the teeth is removed.
The idea is that the enamel removed will be replaced by the veneer and that once the treatment is complete, the final result should be no thicker than it was prior to having enamel removed.
Thinning the enamel helps create space for the new veneer to go without looking too bulky, and to look as natural as possible. Preparation of the tooth removes the outer layer which is very smooth and does not make for the best surface to stick to. This improves the bond strength between the tooth and the veneer in the final stage.
Although a layer or enamel will have been removed, it should not affect sensitivity and the way you live life too much before the veneers are fitted. Although a small number do find their teeth to be more sensitive.
As mentioned before, the procedure can be done without and local anaesthetic. There are no nerves in the tooth enamel so it should not be painful or cause any real discomfort.
However, subject to the number of teeth being prepared and your condition in the dental chair, local anaesthetic may be offered or used as a precaution.
Some veneers, such as ultra-thin and snap on’s do not require enamel removal.
Once this is complete, a few more checks may well be done by the dentist, checking the color size and fit that you want, before the veneers are made.
An impression will be taken to give the technician a template to work on. This imprint is used to ensure the veneers are a perfect fit.
You will then be sent home to return within a couple of weeks time to get the veneers fitted.
During that time the veneers are being made in a specialist lab, specifically for you.
In a few instances, temporary veneers are offered, but this is not commonplace.
If you are opting for a whiter smile, it might well be necessary to undertake a process of tooth whitening for those natural teeth not being fitted with veneers. This will allow the natural teeth to be matched to the veneers. The last thing you want is for the other teeth to look discolored against the veneer.
If a composite veneer is being created, perhaps to deal with a chipped tooth, this can normally be completed in just 1 visit.
The composite starts life as a paste that is applied to the tooth and sticks to the bonding agent applied to the tooth. The dentist shapes the material over many layers to build up the desired shape and look to the tooth. It is hardened using a special light source that cures the material to a hard and tough finish.
Once the dentist is happy with the result, you will get to give it the approval before it is then polished to give it the natural look and feel.
The fitting process -- 2nd visit
Once your dental office have your veneers back, you can have them fitted.
They will be attached to the teeth that were prepared in the last visit.
Just before this happens though, the dentist will usually hold the veneer in place to check the fit.
The dentist will be looking to see if the veneer affects your bite or causes any other alignment issues. If such is spotted, it may well be possible for small alterations to be made immediately before fitting.
A check of the color will be made too. Veneers need to match perfectly against the natural tooth. Thankfully dentists can alter the appearance by choosing the different shades of bonding material (glue).
With the dentist happy to proceed, it is necessary to get your confirmation to go ahead.
When all are happy, the teeth will be thoroughly cleaned to ensure no contaminants are on the teeth in order for a good and secure fit to be achieved.
The dentist will often use what is known as a dental dam as this isolates the tooth and allows the surface to remain free of contaminants whilst the veneer is fitted.
Each tooth getting a veneer must have an acid gel applied.
Known as ‘etching’ it helps roughen the tooth surface, at a microscopic level that will make for a better surface for the bonding agent to stick to.
Cementing then gets applied to the back of the veneer and is stuck to the appropriate tooth. Once aligned, a curing light is used to harden the cement and form the ultimate bond that will keep the veneer in place for many years to come.
Once all the veneers are fitted, that is the job complete.
The gums may be a little tender after the veneer is fitted, especially if they have had to be lifted to fit the veneers. Your dentist may get you to come back in another week or so for a final checkup to make sure everything looks and feels as it should.
Veneers before and after
Results can be subtle for some but significant for for others, depending on the need and wants of the patient as well as the appearance before the treatment.
Most patients have little or no recovery time.
As anaesthetic is rarely used, there will be no numbness and most are so impressed by their new and improved teeth, the slight discomfort that the gums may cause you is easily forgotten about.
If a local anaesthetic did have to be used at any stage of the treatment the mouth will be a little numb for a short time after. Within a few hours this subsides and the feeling is restored to the teeth, gums and mouth.
The gum that extends over the top and sides of teeth will be prodded and lifted to place the veneer to get the perfect fit. This may put a little strain on the gum tissue and increase the sensitivity or soreness for a short period of time.
Within 24-72 hours this discomfort or sensation usually goes away.
If required you can take some typical over the counter pain medication.
If you have any concerns, speak to your dentist for more information.
Taking care of your new smile
The veneers might not be your natural teeth and the front of your natural tooth may well be covered, but not brushing or flossing is not an option.
To be eligible for veneers you will have to have shown you have a good standard or oral care, so you must continue this.
Failing to do so may affect your veneers and how long they last. It could cost you dearly.
So, whether it is porcelain or composite veneers, you should:
- Brush your teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes
- Floss once a day
- Replace your toothbrush/brush head every 3 months
- Get regular dental checkups
If you smoke at all, do try to give that up as it can stain veneers.
Many of us drink coffee, red wine and other drinks like tea that can stain the teeth. Whilst you do not have to give up on these, avoid drinking too much and perhaps try drinking a glass of water afterwards to rinse off the residual particles that can stain your veneers.
How much are veneers?
When you employ the skills of highly trained professionals, there is a cost attached.
Don’t be fooled into thinking veneers are a cheap cosmetic solution, because there are not.
The best might be considered very expensive, but done right, maintained, you can get 20 years of satisfaction from the new and improved smile. What is that really worth?
The most highly sought after dentists will charge more, but there are many highly skilled, yet more affordable dentists and veneer options. Although at some point the price will come into play as you will likely have a budget, you need to consider more than price alone.
Veneer costs in the USA
Each dental office will have their own fees for veneers and why there might be a typical price, your individual circumstances, your wants and the dentist can all influence the price.
If you want to be treated by the most experienced and highly sought after cosmetic dentist in your area, then you will likely have to pay more than if you used an equally qualified, but perhaps lesser known dentist.
Therefore it can be worthwhile getting the opinion and prices from different cosmetic dentists to find the solution and price that is right for you.
Creating veneers is an artform and these will last you many years, so you want to get it right.
As a guide, a single composite tooth veneer will cost $250-1200, whilst a porcelain veneer will cost $500-2500.
The more desirable porcelain is normally 50-50% more expensive, but can last 10-20 years compared to the 5 years of composite.
A porcelain veneer does not stain either.
So, although composite are cheaper, when you consider the cost per veneer over their lifetime, the porcelain option usually wins out.
Of course you have to opt for what you want and can afford at the time. A composite might be a temporary option until you can afford porcelain, or you may choose to wait a little longer until you can afford the better porcelain.
Are veneers covered on dental insurance?
The short answer to this question is no.
There may well be some exceptions whereby a health care plan or dental insurance policy will have allowance for a contribution to be made.
Most policies cover routine or emergency care and treatment. Veneers fall outside of these categories being a cosmetic procedure.
It may however be worth checking your policy wording and checking allowances. There may well be some instances whereby a veneer falls under the label of “post-procedural care.”
It can too be worth speaking to the dentist’s office to see if they can provide further insight based on their experience. Sometimes you are more likely to be supported by the insurance company if the dentist is able to submit documents and evidence to show the need for a veneer and improve dental health and quality of life.
Going overseas for veneers
It is quite well documented that going overseas can be a more cost effective route when it comes to dental treatment.
Travelling to Mexico, Brazil and Costa Rica might just save you several thousand dollars.
Going for treatment overseas in these countries can save on average 50-70%.
Depending on the prices quoted to you in the US and how many veneer you will need, it may not be worthwhile, but typically the more veneers you want, the bigger the saving will be.
You probably don’t need us to point out that saving $5-10,000 dollars is worth consideration.
Of course you need to factor in the cost of travel and accommodation as well as your own peace of mind.
Just consider when going abroad, it is more difficult to makes changes or get repairs completed. A US dentist may not have the same materials available, and it may even cost you more than your original trip. Also be wary about how the dental care is regulated abroad, and know where to go to if something goes wrong.
You should too carry out plenty of research on the dentist and their practice before committing to treatment.
Choosing a dentist
When it comes to finding a dentist suitable to complete your cosmetic dental treatment, you could consider your general dentist, many practices offer such treatment.
General dentists can create and fit veneers as part of their day to day work and for the most part there is no issue with this.
Even if your general dentist does, you need to think quite carefully about the right dentist for you and your veneers.
A cosmetic dentist can also produce and fit veneers, but they may well take a slightly different view on the treatment given they specialise in the appearance of the veneer. Veneers are a cosmetic procedure and in few cases provide a functional role quite like a dental crown might, therefore seeking out the expertise of those who are specialists in the field of cosmetic dentistry is worthwhile.
It can be very helpful to consider any professional accreditation’s and affiliations the cosmetic dentist may have.
The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) offers several levels of membership, starting at the lowest level with General Members. Dentists with this title do not have to be accredited and must simply express an interest in continuing education in cosmetic dentistry. An Accredited Member has passed the entire accreditation process, including a written and oral exam.
An Accredited Fellow has achieved the highest level of membership, having demonstrated cosmetic excellence and ability in clinical practice. Which level of accreditation might you want of your cosmetic dentist?!
You can use the AACD’s find a dentist tool, available here to search for a professional near you.
Most will be, but it is worth checking that the dentist is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA).
Alternatively, to find veneers near you, do a web search for ‘Cosmetic dentist in xxxx’ or ‘Veneers in xxxx’ (replacing xxx with your location).
Do your research, check their qualifications and find out what previous patients have to say.
Ask for real patient stories, with before and after shots, do not settle for the stock before and after images.
It does not hurt to get a 2nd opinion, or maybe a 3rd to understand your choices but learn whether the dentist is right for you.
There are alternatives to veneers, the options include composite fillings and crowns.
Braces may well be an option for those desiring better alignment of their teeth.
Veneers are somewhat of an intermediate option.
Crowns do a lot of damage to the natural tooth and are required where more extensive restoration is needed.
Bonding allows for very small changes to the teeth, whereas veneers sit somewhere in the middle allowing for more change than bonding, but not enough to need or justify a crown.
Veneers or whitening
If you goal is to just whiten the teeth, then cosmetic whitening treatments are more convenient and cost effective.
That said veneers do not stain unless damaged and last for a long time which can be an advantage.
Veneers often require shaping and preparation of the teeth to achieve results, doing away with perfectly healthy enamel.
Consult with a dentist to find what treatment is best for you.
Veneers vs. crowns
Veneers and crowns are 2 different types of solutions which in some respects achieve the same things, but there are subtle differences in each that makes one of these treatments more suitable than the other in many cases.
You should speak to your dentist for their professional opinion based on your individual circumstances.
However to guide you in the meantime, if you have cracked or severely damaged tooth, then it is likely that a crown or cap as it is known is likely to be the best solution.
The artificial tooth is cemented to the natural tooth that sits underneath, but a large proportion of that natural tooth has to be ground away to allow the cap to be fitted.
Crowns are particularly suitable for those who have had root canal treatment as they protect the natural tooth underneath and give extra strength.
As has been learnt in this article, a veneer for the most part does not really add strength to the tooth and whilst a small proportion of enamel may need to be removed, it is a lot less than with a cap.
Veneers are a more cost effective and better way of giving a new look to teeth and your smile if for the most part your natural teeth are in good shape, albeit not quite the shape you want of your smile.
If you no longer have your own teeth, implants are an option to fill the gap left behind. Implants are an expensive but the best option when it comes to artificial teeth and are an alternative to those who would normally be advised to get a denture.
Extra information is available in our guide to dental implants.
It is important that you get the results you desire, so never rush into a treatment, educate yourself and seek opinion to make informed decisions.
It is important that you get the results you desire, so never rush into a treatment, educate yourself and seek opinion to make informed decisions.
Additional work -- Smile makeover
Veneers are just 1 of many cosmetic treatments that are available to improve the look of your smile.
However, many want or need more work than simply attaching veneers to get the smile they want.
Often referred to as a smile makeover, treatment plans that include the veneers and other services such as gum reshaping or recontouring are offered by cosmetic professionals to help achieve the desired result.
If you want that Hollywood smile or to make any alterations to your smile, be that cover up a chip, change the colour of the teeth or make the teeth appear straighter, veneers are a great option.
Research and then consult with a reputable cosmetic dentist to get their opinion.
Once you have all the information you need and are happy to proceed, get the best veneers you can afford and enjoy your new smile and the benefits that come with it.
When you have a look to your teeth and smile that you are happy with it can radically improve your self confidence and the quality of life that you lead.
Porcelain veneers are the gold standard, but newer ultra-thin veneers offer the same benefits without some of the major restrictions and disadvantages that come with the traditional approach.
Your comments and opinions
If you should have any questions, comments or opinions you would like to add to this guide, please do so, by commenting below.
Should you have or be going through the process of veneer yourself, why not share some feedback for others to take advantage of.
Are veneers bad for your teeth?
The answer to this question depends a little on your perception of ‘bad’.
Whilst the veneers make the teeth look good, they do nothing for the teeth to improve their health.
Most veneers require a thin layer of enamel to be removed from the teeth so that they can be bonded to the teeth. Many would consider this bad as once removed, the enamel cannot be replaced.
Minimal and no-prep veneers are now available and suitable for some and do not require the removal of enamel in most cases, therefore doing away with what most consider to be bad about veneers.
However, the life of veneers is 5-20 years so they do require replacement several times throughout your life.
Do veneers hurt?
There should be no pain associated with the fitting and wearing of veneers.
The enamel which is often worn away to fit the veneers is thinned generally by 0.2-0.5mm. Enamel itself has no nerves to report pain or sensitivity to the brain, in most cases there will be the pressure/sensation of something happening to the teeth but no pain.
Risks are present and there is the potential that a small number of people getting veneers may experience sensitivity as a result.
Can veneers be whitened?
The materials from which they are made will not react with the chemicals that would normally whiten teeth, therefore making it virtually impossible to whiten the veneer.
Generally speaking a veneers will not stain, so it will stay the same color for the whole time it is fitted within your mouth.
However, diets, lifestyle and materials can be different and some may discolor. It is possible that a professional cleaning of the veneer will restore its natural color. Failing that a replacement will be required.
How veneers are made?
The exact process of how a veneer is made depends slightly on the type of veneer you choose.
Most are man made or in some instances machines and modern milling equipment assist.
Porcelain veneers are often considered the best and are made by human hands in a dental lab by building up and shaping many thin layers to form the final veneer precision crafted for your teeth.
When are veneers medically necessary?
Veneers are generally considered as a cosmetic treatment and something that is not medically necessary by many dental insurance providers.
There are exceptions to this rule, but it is a bit of a grey area and the justification of what is medically necessary will vary from one medical and insurance provider to another.
As a guide only, a veneer can be considered medically necessary, when used to replace a large filling the encompasses at least half the width of a tooth or following a root canal in order to prevent the tooth from fracturing.
Dental veneers are considered not medically necessary when placed in order to cover:
- Severely discolored tooth/teeth;
- Worn down, misaligned, uneven or irregularly shaped tooth/teeth;
- Teeth with gaps between them to close the space between the teeth;
- Teeth in a patient with cracked tooth syndrome;
- A broken cusp in which the cusp has broken off at the tooth; or
- Severe tooth decay in which most of the original tooth has been destroyed.
Can veneers fall off?
Although not that common due to the very strong bonding agent used to hold the veneer in place they can fall off for a number of reasons.
Poor or improper application by the dentist is one reason, age and degrading of the bonding agent over many years is another.
Particular forces on the veneer may also cause it to come off. Whilst designed to resist most day to day pressures of chewing, eating, biting etc, impact or overly excessive force can cause the veneer to break off from the tooth to which it would normally be attached.
Can veneers fix crooked teeth?
Yes. Veneers can be used to make crooked teeth look straight as well as changing the tooth colour, improving alignment, closing gaps between teeth and the shape too.
Can veneers stain?
Generally speaking veneers will not stain or discolor. The materials used often resist staining.
However, whilst relatively rare, some veneers may discolor due to the diet and lifestyle of the wearer. They can alter from their original color over very long periods of time, for exmaple if the veneer is worn past its average life. Those designed to last 5 years may discolor if worn for 7-10 years as an example.
Can veneers be removed and replaced?
Yes they can. In fact most have to be as the designed life is normally anywhere between 5-20 years meaning most people will need to replace them a couple of times during their lifetime.
Once you have had veneers where enamel has been removed to fit them, you have to continue to have veneers for the rest of your life.
- Levisons Textbook for Dental Nurses
- The Smile Clinic
- Timothy J Kitzmiller
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- British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry
- The Smile Clinic
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