Whether you want to cover up imperfections in one tooth or the full social six, veneers offer a long-lasting, natural-looking solution. But getting them usually requires more than just walking into your dentist’s office and walking out with an incredible smile.
So, what should you expect before getting veneers? We’ve got the details you need, from your consultation to life with veneers.
Table of Contents
The Initial Consultation
The initial consultation is your opportunity to discover your options and ask questions. Remember that your dentist is there to help you, so don’t be afraid to bring up your concerns or be direct about your smile goals.
Every dentist has their own approach to this appointment, but it will usually consist of a general dental exam, a discussion on whether veneers will work for you (and if not, going over other options), and determining which veneer options best align with your budget and goals. Depending on the dentist, they might offer the following veneer options:
- Direct Composite
- Indirect Composite
- Lumineers (or other no-prep veneers)
- Snap-On Smile (removable veneers)
Once you settle on the option you feel is best, you’ll get a cost estimate and schedule the detailed planning and prep appointment. Sometimes, you can do this the same day as your initial consultation.
Planning and Prep
Most likely, you discussed what you want from your smile makeover during the initial consultation. Now, it’s time to get into the details, such as the exact shade of your veneers, how they will alter the shape of your tooth, and even the texture. Once you’ve planned everything, it’s time to move on to the prep.
The specifics of your veneer prep will depend on the type you get. Some require no prep, others need minimal enamel removal, and others require so much enamel removal that you’ll be wearing veneers for the rest of your life. Here’s what to expect:
- Direct Composite: Typically requires little to no enamel removal. Because the process is essentially the same as bonding, your dentist will only remove enamel if you need extra thick veneers to cover darker stains.
- Indirect Composite: These tend to be thicker than direct composite veneers and require the dentist to remove about 0.25 millimeters of enamel.
- Ceramic: Ceramic veneers are made in a lab and they’re often slightly thicker than composite ones, so they need around 0.5 millimeters of enamel removed.
- Porcelain: Like ceramic, these veneers are thicker and need around 0.5 millimeters of enamel shaved off.
- Lumineers: These are known as no-prep veneers, meaning they need any enamel removal.
- Snap-On Smile: As removable veneers, these just pop on over your teeth and clip onto the molars to hold them in place — no enamel alteration necessary.
If you choose a type of veneer that requires enamel prep, your dentist will use topical and local anesthetic as needed. Once the prep is complete, they’ll take impressions for making your veneers. Your dentist will also make a temporary veneer to protect the tooth and prevent sensitivity. Expect to wait anywhere from 1–3 weeks to get your final veneers (except in the case of direct composite, which is placed the same day).
Placing Your Veneers
This is the big day! At this visit, your dentist will check that the veneer matches your goals for size, shape, and color. If things aren’t quite right, they can make quite a few adjustments in office, altering the color with bonding glue and shaving the veneer to change the shape. Then, it’s time for placement.
First, your dentist will clean your teeth and apply an antiseptic. This eliminates any debris that could interfere with bonding while killing bacteria that could get trapped underneath and cause cavities. Then, they will use a smile stretcher to keep your cheeks and lips pulled back, preventing saliva from getting on the teeth during placement, which can cause issues with bonding.
Next, the dentist will apply cement to the back of the veneer and press it to the tooth. They’ll check that the placement is ideal, then use a curing light to harden the cement, bonding the veneer to the tooth. Then they’ll clean and polish the veneers, plus etch the tooth to ensure strong bonding. Finally, they’ll remove excess cement and check that your bite is good, then send you home to enjoy your new smile.
Most dentists will request a follow-up appointment about a week after placement to check that your bite is still good, the veneers are secure, and you aren’t having any issues with your gums.
Life With Veneers: What You Should Know
Prep, planning, and placement get a lot of attention, but those are the sprint; life with veneers is the marathon. Your veneers can last 20 years or more, and in most cases, you’ll need to wear them for life. Since you’re in for the long haul, proper maintenance is key.
Directly after getting your veneers, you may experience some discomfort, but it often subsides within a few days. However, some people will experience “zingers,” or sharp pains similar to the feeling of biting into something cold. Over-the-counter painkillers and saltwater rinses can help, and sticking to soft foods can also lessen the pain. If your gums were cut during the placement process, they might need about a week to fully heal.
You can treat your veneers just like you do your natural teeth — only we suggest being a little more careful with them (especially if they’re composite). Brush and floss at least twice a day and see your dentist twice a year for a check-up and cleaning. Never use your teeth as tools and don’t bite into very hard, tough, or frozen-solid foods. Additionally, stop habits like nail biting or chewing on pens and pencils.
With the right care, veneers can last over 20 years without needing repair or replacement. Just keep an eye out for signs of damage, as well as tooth decay or gum disease on or around the treated teeth, and contact your dentist the moment you suspect something might be wrong.
Getting veneers is a fairly straightforward process, though your exact experience can vary based on the type of veneers you choose. Work with your dentist to select the right type for your budget and goals.
Be prepared to wear a temporary veneer and exercise a bit of extra care once your veneers are in place. Veneers usually last 7–10 years before you need to replace them. But aside from that, having veneers is not very different from your natural teeth.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many appointments are required for getting veneers?
It depends on the type of veneers you get. Sometimes, you just need one appointment. In other cases, you need 2–3. Your dentist will explain this during the initial consultation.
What are good questions to ask my dentist at my initial consultation?
Some suggestions to help you start brainstorming include:
- How much of my enamel will need to be removed?
- Are there other treatments that suit my needs better?
- Do I have any complicating factors that could make having veneers more difficult?
- How long will the full process take?
- How much will my veneers cost?
Should I get veneers from a general or cosmetic dentist?
Both can provide veneers but in most cases, a cosmetic dentist will be the better choice. They have specialized training in creating aesthetically pleasing smiles, considering everything from tooth alignment to overall facial balance. They are more likely to provide veneers that bring all your facial features into harmony.
How do I decide between the different types of veneers?
Research the pros and cons of each to see how they compare and contrast. However, you must also consult your dentist and lean on their guidance. Dentists are experts on veneers and they likely have key insights that will help you make the best possible choice.
What are my options for managing discomfort after getting veneers?
You may not experience much, if any, discomfort after getting your veneers. If you do, start with saltwater rinses. If that doesn’t bring enough relief, you can use over-the-counter pain relievers. In very rare cases, this won’t be enough. If your discomfort persists, contact your dentist.
How much will veneers impact my speech?
It varies between patients, but most don’t experience any change in their speech except with removable veneers like Snap-On Smile. We form speech with the backs of our teeth and sometimes the bottom edge. Veneers barely alter these areas.
What are things to avoid with veneers?
Some types of veneers require more caution than others. With all veneers, you need to avoid using your teeth as tools, avoid nail biting and chewing on objects, and not bite into very tough, hard, or frozen foods. If you have composite or snap-on veneers, you should also try to avoid highly pigmented foods and beverages, since these can stain your veneers. For those drinks you just can’t resist, try drinking them through a straw instead.
How much will veneers cost me?
You need to get a precise quote from your dentist. However, they usually range from $250–$2,500 per tooth, with direct composite being at the lower end and porcelain at the higher end.
Which teeth are best for veneers?
Veneers are ideal for the front six teeth on the upper arch, though you can get them on other teeth, depending on your alignment.
How often will I need to replace my veneers?
While the material and your maintenance will affect their lifespan, most veneers last 7–20 years.