How do veneers work? Types, process, pros, and cons

Peter Dégallier

Written by Peter Dégallier RDH, Nichole McKenna DDS, Matthew Stewart DDS, Eric Moryoussef DDS, Namrita Harchandani DMD

Veneers are small pieces of lining placed on top of natural, shaved-down teeth. This process is almost always irreversible. Once you decide veneers are the way to go, there is no going back.

The tooth underneath does remain alive and healthy. But a significant part of it does have to be filed down. And for the two most common types of veneers, composite and porcelain, this is a lot.

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Who is a good candidate for veneers?

Veneers are generally a cosmetic procedure. They are recommended for teeth that are: - discolored, - chipped, - worn-down, - misaligned, - crooked, - irregularly shaped, - affected by decay or disease, - or injured in an accident.

You are a good candidate if you don’t have missing teeth (in the place you want veneers), severe periodontal disease, or significant decay. There is a condition, though. Your enamel needs to be healthy enough to support them.

Types of veneers

Generally, permanent veneers can be composite (made of resin) or porcelain. You can also consider Lumineers or clip-in veneers.

Some materials are more durable than others. For many patients, it is the appearance that is most important. There are different options, depending on what you are looking for.

Resin veneers

Composite veneers

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Composite veneers can be built directly on your tooth or (indirectly) in a lab. The latter takes longer to install in your mouth.

Jason Chong

Jason Chong, DDS

Indirect veneers can be both temporary and definitive. In most cases, chairside veneers are just composite "fillings" that are mostly cosmetic in nature, lower in cost, and used as a cheaper alternative to porcelain.

In comparison with porcelain veneers, resin looks less natural and is less durable. This material stains similarly to your natural teeth and can’t be whitened. If they become discolored you either have to deal with it or pay for new ones.

The good news is that you can fix resin veneers easily and affordably if they were to crack or chip. They can last from 5 to 7 years, though with proper care this could be even longer.

What’s more, composite veneers can be made very thin. This means removing less of your natural enamel and putting less strain on the teeth.

Porcelain veneers

Porcelain veneers

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Porcelain is the way to go if what you’re looking for is appearance. Such veneers appear like natural teeth. What’s more, porcelain is stain-resistant, which means never having to worry about whitening.

These are also more durable than resin, however, if they crack or chip it is very expensive to repair them. They might even need to be replaced.

Otherwise, you can expect them to last 15 to 20 years.

Lumineers veneers

Lumineers veneers

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Lumineers are the only type that is reversible. This kind is the thinnest (about 0.2mm) type of veneers out there, so your teeth don’t have to be reduced so much. Designed to resist wear and tear for up to 20 years, Lumineers are comparable in durability to porcelain veneers.

What’s more, they are stain-resistant. You can choose the shade you like, and won’t have to pay for whitening. The translucent quality works great to mimic enamel.

Eric Moryoussef

Eric Moryoussef, DDS

Because porcelain veneers and lumineers are custom-made in a laboratory using expensive porcelain, they are associated with a higher cost of materials.

If you do not have a severe orthodontic problem, you will be able to get them to make your teeth look more uniformly-shaped and straight. Lumineers can be cheaper than tooth alignment treatment such as braces, especially if you are looking to fix up a single tooth.

Snap-on veneers

Clip-on veneers

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If you don’t want a costly permanent solution, you can consider clip-on veneers.

One arch only covers the front eight teeth. The material is different than in the more expensive, permanent options.

The downside is that this is a solution for a couple of years at most, and you will have to replace them at some point.

The clip-on veneers are available online, so you don’t have to make multiple appointments with the dentist. This saves a lot of greet-meet-and-sit time. It’s still a good idea to have a consultation beforehand, though.

How are veneers put on teeth?

The veneers process can turn out lengthier than you’d expect. It can take up to 4 weeks for the dentist to get them back from the lab alone. If you strategically plan out your visits with your dentist however, the whole process can be done in 2 appointments. There is no healing, as the procedure is non-surgical.

This overview may give you a general idea. Your dentist might decide that some extra steps need to be taken or that some stages have to be stretched out over several appointments.

First dental visit

During this visit, the dentist will check the overall condition of your mouth. He or she will judge whether you are a good candidate for veneers.

Prophy

You are likely to need dental cleaning before getting veneers. Remember, they are stuck to your natural teeth, so you cannot have any plaque or food debris in your mouth.

Diagnostic wax-up and X-rays

Once you establish a plan of action with your dentist, you will have your X-rays. A diagnostic wax-up might be made. It is a model of how your mouth will work after the procedure is complete.

Preparation

About half a millimeter of your tooth will be shaved down. An impression will be taken and sent off to the lab if you are going with porcelain. You will have to wear temporaries before the next visit. Resin veneers can sometimes be placed during this visit.

Placement

Once the veneers return from the lab your teeth will be cleaned and roughened, to make attachment easier. A special cement will be placed on your teeth. Ultraviolet light will help it harden quickly.

Check-up

You might have another visit with your dentist a couple of weeks later. He or she will check if the veneers are fixed to your teeth properly and whether there are no other problems.

Veneers teeth pros and cons

Comprehensive dental exam

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The biggest advantage of veneers is that they can fix a wide range of cosmetic issues. In comparison to other solutions to uneven teeth such as orthodontics, they are quick and the cost is more affordable. You might not need more than 2 appointments, while braces or aligners might have to be worn for years.

Veneers look very realistic and are a popular choice among celebrities. It is easy to care for them, pretty much the same as you would for your natural teeth.

On the other hand, the process is irreversible. You are making a life-long decision. What’s more, shaving down your enamel may make your teeth more sensitive to sweet foods as well as hot and cold temperatures.

A night guard will likely be recommended to protect the veneers. If they break, you may need new ones.

Nichole McKenna

Nichole McKenna, DDS

Over time, the gums can recede and make the margin (where the veneer meets the natural tooth) visible. This is often aesthetically unacceptable and will require replacement of the veneers.

And lastly, not everyone is a candidate. Your dentist may refuse to place them if you have a history of gum disease or particularly fragile teeth.

  • More affordable than other cosmetic solutions such as crowns or implants

  • Great aesthetics

  • Can be done with as little as 2 appointments

  • Fix a wide variety of cosmetic issues

  • Care is similar to that of natural teeth

  • Irreversible

  • May make your teeth more sensitive

  • Nightguard might be needed

  • Not a good choice for everyone

Veneers near me

Veneers are a convenient way to quickly change the appearance of your smile. The cost, however, can be discouraging for some people. This doesn’t mean you have to forget about a beautiful smile. Affordable veneers near you are possible. It’s all about finding the right office.

Authority Dental can help you with the search. We have an extensive network of specialists with great reviews and prices. The best rated dentist near me service means not having to book an appointment yourself. We’ll do that for you and consider your schedule.

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FAQ

Is it painful to get veneers?

No. This process is non-surgical and there is no healing period. It may be uncomfortable, but patients are almost always numbed for any unpleasant stages.

How long do veneers last?

Veneers, unlike implants, for example, are not designed to be a life-long fix free of maintenance. You can expect porcelain veneers to last around 20 years, while composite ones stay in the mouth for roughly 7.

This is true, of course, provided that you take proper care of them. Veneers are prone to damage, as are the living teeth underneath. It is important to visit the dentist regularly after having them installed.

Do veneers ruin your teeth?

The veneers process does in fact cause some damage. In order to place them, the dentist has to remove a part of your tooth. You can never get it back. Veneers may have to be replaced at some point.

How to take care of your veneers?

Generally, you should keep up good overall oral hygiene, address teeth-grinding, if that is an issue, and wear oral protection during sports and similar activities. As with natural teeth, do not use teeth as tools, for example, to open letters or cans.

When it comes to your diet, resin veneers require you to steer clear of coffee, wine, or tea, as well as tobacco. Porcelain ones are not as restrictive, as they are stain-resistant.

How to whiten veneers?

Veneers can’t be whitened. There are some home treatments described online such as rubbing them with baking soda, but that can cause damage to your dental work.

The good news is that porcelain veneers are stain-resistant. If you know you are going to be drinking wine, tea, coffee, or smoking tobacco, you should invest in this more expensive material.

What are some alternatives to veneers?

Bonding is the most common and cheap alternative. It involves adding composite to your teeth. This can make them look more even and straight. It’s also a good fix for broken or cracked teeth.

If you are looking at orthodontic issues, you may also consider braces. They can deal with even the most complex issues such as gapped teeth, complete misalignment, or teeth sticking out above the arch. Veneers can fix irregular, crooked, or misaligned teeth. The condition is that the problems have to be slight. Some patients who are thinking of veneers end up with a dental crown. But no dentist will fit a crown over a healthy tooth. There must be some damage or the tooth has to be missing for you to be a candidate. In the case of the latter, you’ll also need a dental implant. Veneers are a much better option if the changes you want are cosmetic.

References

  1. The 5-year clinical performance of direct composite additions to correct tooth form and position - Springer
  2. Five-year clinical performance of porcelain veneers - Ku Leuven
  3. Lumineers veneers - Lumineers