For people who are seeking a fast smile makeover, veneers are a premier choice. Often capable of providing the classic “Hollywood Smile,” veneers were previously a treatment viewed as inaccessible to the general public. Luckily, this is no longer true. Through payment plans and new financing programs, veneers have become a realistic option for most people.
However, veneers aren’t a perfect fit for everyone. In this guide, we’ll discuss the process of getting veneers, their major pros and cons, and some alternative treatment options in case veneers aren’t the right fit for your teeth.
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What Are Veneers?
Veneers are super thin, custom-made shells that are bonded to the front of your teeth to create a “makeover effect.” They can be modified to match the color, texture, and shading of your teeth, so they look like a perfectly natural smile. There are different options for shell material and for the amount of prep work involved (we’ll explain this below). Your dentist will evaluate your teeth and help you decide which material and amount of prep are right for you.
The first veneers were pioneered in the 1920s as a way to instantly transform actors’ smiles for film scenes. It wasn’t until the 1980s that dentists began designing methods for etching porcelain veneers and permanently bonding them to the teeth, making them more widely accessible to the general public. Ever since, dentists and orthodontists have been improving on that design to make more durable, realistic veneers.
Types of Veneers
Veneers can be made with either porcelain or composite material. However, most dentists recommend porcelain. Porcelain veneers have a more natural quality and can match the color of tooth enamel very closely. Composite material is also more likely to stain, while porcelain veneers are generally stain-resistant.
Another reason porcelain is the more common choice? They’re durable. Composite veneers typically last about 4 – 8 years, while porcelain veneers can last up to 15 years before they need to be restored or replaced. Still, this added durability comes at a price. Composite veneers cost about $300 – $1,000 per tooth, while porcelain veneers cost a whopping $1,000 – $2,500 per tooth.
Whether you receive composite or porcelain veneers, your teeth will often still need to be “prepped” beforehand. The prepping process involves a dentist shaving down a thin layer of enamel on your teeth to make room for the veneers to fit over the top. This process is permanent. So, it’s important to be very sure of your decision before getting veneers.
To mitigate the loss of tooth enamel, dentists offer minimal or low-prep options as well. These options require less shaving than typical veneer prep and are more favorable among dentists.
Pros and Cons of Veneers
Because they’re such a permanent treatment option, you should take some time to weigh the pros and cons before seriously considering veneers. Porcelain veneers are one of the most transformative yet priciest treatment options currently available. So, it’s essential to make sure they will be the right choice for you before making any financial commitments.
- Instant gratification: you can achieve a “Hollywood Smile” and correct most issues (crowding, spacing, discoloration, etc.) in as little as one appointment.
- No special upkeep required: unlike some alternative treatments, like braces, veneers allow you to brush and floss like normal.
- Completely customizable: your dentist will completely customize the color, shape and fit of your veneers to match your smile. Your veneers also don’t have to be the same color as your teeth -- many patients opt for a brighter color to achieve a whitening effect.
- Stain-resistant: porcelain veneers typically stay bright and white for several years.
- Tooth decay/cavities can develop under veneers: because of this, veneers are not recommended for patients with a history of gum disease or poor oral hygiene.
- Prep process is irreversible: even with low-prep veneers, your teeth will be permanently shaved down as a part of treatment.
- Very expensive: if you opt for the more favorable porcelain veneers, the cost of treatment is very high and might be too pricey for some budgets.
- Not repairable: in most cases, porcelain veneers must be completely replaced if they are cracked or broken.
- Not permanent: porcelain veneers typically last about 10 - 15 years before they need to be replaced.
- Not suitable for many cases: severe misalignments can put pressure on the veneers and cause them to break or crack.
- Some foods are off-limits: veneers are more fragile than natural enamel, so you’ll have to slice that apple instead of biting directly into it and crunchy foods like granola should be avoided as well.
Who Are Veneers Right For?
Veneers are best for people who are seeking a customized, realistically “perfect” smile, without having to go through a lengthy treatment process. Veneers can treat both mild-to-moderate crowding and spacing. However, most people with a bite misalignment aren’t considered a good fit. More severe cases of misalignment or bite issues can put too much pressure on veneers, causing them to break or crack. Grinding will also put too much pressure on veneers. So, people who tend to grind their teeth are not considered a good candidate.
Veneers are also great for treating more cosmetic dental issues, like discoloration, chips, or staining. Wear and tear on our teeth is natural. However, it’s no longer something you have to deal with if your flaws are making you less confident in your smile.
Although they can treat a variety of cosmetic concerns, veneers do not treat any medical conditions like gum disease. Patients can still get cavities and infections under their veneers. So, regular brushing and flossing are essential. Because of this, people with poor oral hygiene are typically not a good fit for veneers. If you do decide to get veneers, you should have healthy teeth and gums before beginning treatment.
What Is It Like to Get Veneers?
The first step to receiving veneers is to have x-rays and impressions taken of your teeth. You’ll also have an in-depth consultation with your dentist to discuss your desired results. Your dentist will explain the differences between porcelain and composite veneers, as well as the difference between regular and low-prep veneers. They will likely make a recommendation for you based on your teeth and face shape.
Once impressions are taken, they are sent to a lab that produces the veneers and sends them back to the dentist. Some dentists have labs in their own practice, significantly speeding up this process. Then, your teeth will be prepped by shaving down a small layer of enamel. Although there are some minimal-prep options, at least a small amount of prep is typically required.
Next, your dentist will temporarily place the veneers on your teeth, to examine their color and shape. If you’re happy with the outcome, your dentist will cement the veneers on your teeth, completing the treatment process.
How Long Do Veneers Last?
As we previously mentioned, the longest your veneers will last is about 10 -15 years. However, that timeline only applies to porcelain veneers. Composite veneers will only last about 4 -8 years. In each case, once the veneers are worn out or broken, they will need to be replaced. Veneers are rarely able to be fixed if they are damaged. So, you should be prepared to purchase brand new veneers every time they need to be restored.
Veneers are a hefty investment, and the cost of treatment does not stop after you receive your first set. Each time they’re replaced, you’ll need to pay for veneers all over again. If you don’t think you’re ready for such a long-term financial commitment, veneers may not be the perfect fit for you.
What Kind of Results Should I Expect?
Veneers are essentially custom-crafted smiles. Your dentist can alter the veneers’ size, color, texture, and position to create the exact smile you’re after, so you can be confident that you’ll be satisfied with the results.
The best part is that your dentist can place your veneers during a single office visit, so you’ll walk out the door with a brand new smile.
Several different companies produce strong and great-looking veneers, each with their own advantages. You should discuss your options with your dentist, who can help you decide on the best brand for you. Here are a few of the most popular.
- Lumineers: Extra-thin porcelain veneers that require no shaving or resurfacing of your teeth.
- DuraThin: Similar to Lumineers, they’re exceptionally thin and require no teeth prepping
- eMax: Crafted from a lighter, stronger pressed ceramic material that is semi-translucent, so they better match your natural tooth appearance.
- MAC: The most popular veneers in Hollywood, they use pressed ceramic and have a more extensive color-matching palette than any other brand.
For people who like the instant smile makeover that veneers provide, but don’t want them bonded to their teeth, snap-on veneers have become a popular alternative. These are thin, durable, removable veneers designed to fit perfectly over your teeth. Companies like Removable Veneers USA use molds of your teeth to craft these veneers, providing multiple brightness options.
Many people use snap-on veneers for special occasions, but some people wear them all day, every day, and certain companies sell more durable veneer options for everyday use. Snap-on veneers can cost anywhere between $300 and $1,000, much cheaper than traditional veneers, but also less permanent.
What Are My Other Options?
For minor cases of chipping or teeth spacing, dental bonding provides a much cheaper alternative to most orthodontic treatments. Dentists use a material, very similar to that used for treating fillings, to build up the teeth and close small gaps or fix minor chips. Treatment with dental bonding typically only takes one visit to the dentist and costs about $300 -$600 per tooth. Unfortunately, the material used for dental bonding is not very durable and will likely need to be replaced every few years.
If your dental concerns are limited to just one tooth, a dental crown may also be a viable alternative. Some major issues like severe cracks or tooth decay are even better suited for dental crowns than veneers. This is because crowns tend to be more effective at treating damaged teeth and are specifically made to protect the tooth against further injury or decay.
Finally, if your teeth are severely misaligned, veneers will likely not be a great fit for you. You may require a more extensive orthodontic treatment, like braces or Invisalign. Options like clear braces and lingual (behind the teeth) braces allow treatment to be more discreet, without sacrificing thoroughness. However, if you’d prefer completely “invisible” treatment, Invisalign or home teeth aligners are both great options.
Veneers can be a great option for anyone seeking a “makeover effect” or correction of multiple cosmetic issues at once. However, for more severe cases of misalignment, you’ll likely be a better fit for a different treatment. Veneers aren’t cheap, so it’s important to make sure you’re making the right decision.
Although the price is arguably well worth completely changing your smile, veneers still require a long-term financial commitment. If you’re interested in getting veneers, schedule an appointment with your dentist to discuss your options and find out if they’re the right choice for your teeth and budget.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much do veneers cost?
Composite veneers cost about $300 – $1,000 per tooth, while porcelain veneers cost anywhere from $1,000 – $2,500 per tooth. The price can vary depending on what brand of veneers you use, and your dentist’s typical rates.
How long do veneers last?
Composite veneers usually last 4-8 years, while porcelain veneers can last up to 15 years. Of course, your veneers’ lifespan depends somewhat on how well you take care of them.
Can I get my veneers removed?
Technically, yes. It’s possible to remove veneers after they’ve been placed. However, if your dentist shaved down your natural teeth before applying the veneers, you’ll need to get new veneers in their place. In most cases, there’s no reason to have veneers removed, so it’s not something you’ll likely need to worry about.
What are veneers made from?
Veneers are either made from porcelain or composite materials. Porcelain veneers last longer and look slightly more natural, but are more expensive. Composite veneers are still high quality and natural-looking, plus they’re better on a budget. Your dentist will help you decide which option is best for your smile goals.
Do veneers stain?
Porcelain veneers are generally stain-resistant, so they should keep their color as long as you take care of them. Composite resin veneers, on the other hand, tend to stain much easier, especially if you drink a lot of coffee, tea, red wine, etc.
Can veneers break?
Veneers are extremely strong and durable, but just like your natural teeth, they can chip or crack. It rarely happens, but dental trauma can potentially break your veneers. If that happens, you’ll need to visit your dentist to get the veneer replaced.
Do veneers look fake?
Not at all! Your dentist will customize the size, shape, color, and texture of your veneers, so they’ll perfectly match your natural smile.
Do veneers ruin your teeth?
No, your veneers won’t ruin your teeth. Your dentist may need to shave down the surfaces of your teeth before applying your veneers, which is an irreversible process, but they’ll still be beautiful and totally functional.
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