Most of us know what it is like to have a part of our body that makes us feel awkward, self-conscious, or simply dissatisfied. For some, it may be the hairline. For others, it could be the thighs, the belly, or the buttocks. And for others, it is the smile. Indeed, if you have teeth that are stained, chipped, or misshapen, it may be difficult to feel truly confident.
The good news is that there are plenty of cosmetic treatments to give you the bright, healthy smile you long for. One of the most popular options is dental veneers. The best way to learn more about veneers, and to determine whether they are right for you, is to make an appointment with your dentist. In the meantime, here is plenty of information to help you get started.
What are Dental Veneers?
A good place to start is with a basic definition.
Dental veneers are thin covers of porcelain that adhere to the teeth, helping to conceal any oral health imperfections while giving the teeth a more classically shaped appearance.
Dental veneers are made to look identical to healthy, natural teeth, right down to their color and texture. The goal is for you to achieve the perfect, natural looking smile you have always dreamed of, with no one the wiser that you have veneers.
In some cases, patients get just a single veneer to cover a tooth that has cracked or chipped. It is much more common to get veneers that cover multiple teeth. The top front ten teeth are the ones most commonly covered by dental veneers.
Are You a Good Candidate for Dental Veneers?
If you have serious reservations about your smile, dental veneers may offer the solution you have been waiting for. Specifically, dental veneers can be used to address a wide range of cosmetic problems, including:
- Teeth that are broken or chipped
- Teeth that are badly stained
- Teeth that have proven resistant to professional-grade tooth whitening measures
- Uneven coloring in the teeth
- Large gaps between the teeth
- Teeth that are oddly shaped
- Teeth that are smaller than you would like them to be
If you are faced with any of these dental issues, you may be a good candidate for veneers. The next step is meeting with a dentist for a consultation, where you can ask questions, learn more about the process, and make an informed decision about if veneers are the best option for you.
Additionally, your dentist will make sure that you are qualified to get veneers, and that you do not have any underlying oral health problems that might preclude you from enjoying the full effect of this treatment. More specifically, veneers are usually not the best option for patients who have untreated gum disease. Veneers can also be damaged by teeth grinding or jaw clenching; if you struggle with either of these conditions, you may want to seek alternatives to dental veneers. Finally, if your teeth do not have sufficient enamel, you are not eligible for veneers. (More on this later.)
What are the Benefits of Getting Dental Veneers?
There are many reasons why patients choose dental veneers. Some of the biggest benefits include:
- Veneers represent a safe, simple, and easy way to repair your teeth.
- Getting veneers is minimally invasive, which means you do not have to worry about getting anesthesia or having a prolonged downtime.
- Dental veneers offer a completely natural appearance.
- Veneers last a long time and are made to be highly durable.
- Maintaining dental veneers is very easy.
- Veneers are a much more permanent option than tooth whitening.
- With any specific questions about the benefits of dental veneers, we encourage you to contact your dentist directly.
What are the Different Types of Dental Veneers?
As you meet with your dentist about getting veneers, one of the first decisions you will need to make is which type of veneer is right for you. Most dentists offer two primary options: Porcelain veneers and veneers made from plastic resin. Both options come with their own unique pros and cons.
Many patients consider porcelain to be the most aesthetically pleasing type of veneer. It also happens to be the strongest and the longest-lasting.
Another significant benefit to choosing veneers made from porcelain is that these are typically made with biocompatible components. What this means is that they are unlikely to be “rejected” by your mouth, nor to cause injury or inflammation to the gums or other soft tissues.
Some additional perks to choosing porcelain veneers:
- It is very easy to get porcelain veneers that blend in with your natural tooth color. (This is especially important if you are only having a few teeth covered with veneers and want the final result to look seamless and normal.)
- These veneers are resistant to staining, which makes them easier to maintain over the long run.
- Because they are made from such durable materials, the risk of breaking, chipping, or cracking porcelain veneers is fairly low.
- They have a smooth texture, not dissimilar to naturally-growing teeth.
- They have a long lifespan; with the right care, you can hold onto your porcelain veneers for 15 years or more.
As for downsides, there are a couple that are worth noting:
- Porcelain veneers are the more expensive of the two options.
- The application process can be longer and more complicated.
The alternative is to get veneers made from a composite resin material. These veneers combine natural and synthetic materials, including an inorganic filler that helps these veneers have a tooth-like color.
Composite veneers are not as strong or as durable as porcelain ones, but they are still quite sturdy and resistant to breakage. They also have the major benefit of being substantially less expensive.
Some additional pros to composite veneers include:
- They can be applied without the need for significant enamel removal. As such, the process of getting composite veneers is not quite as invasive.
- They have a natural appearance.
- They have a low risk of harming your teeth and gums.
- While composite veneers can become chipped or broken, they are most often fixed quite easily.
- They can usually be applied in a single visit.
- With the right maintenance, they may last at least five years.
Be aware that there are also some downsides to composite veneers. Some of the most significant drawbacks include:
- While composite veneers have a natural look, they can very easily become stained.
- They do not last as long as porcelain veneers do.
- Though they are made to be durable, they are not as breakage-resistant as their porcelain counterparts.
With any specific questions about choosing porcelain versus composite veneers, make an appointment to chat with your dentist.
What is the First Step Toward Getting Dental Veneers?
If you think you are a good candidate for dental veneers, the first step is simply making an appointment with your dentist. Schedule a one-on-one consultation where you can ask any questions you have about the process, and work with your dentist to determine the type of veneers best suited for your cosmetic needs as well as your budget.
In some cases, your dentist may recommend additional treatments to prepare you for your veneers. For example, if you have gum disease, you will need to have that addressed before veneers can be placed. And if your teeth are severely crooked, you may need to have braces or Invisalign® before moving on to veneers.
During your initial appointment, your dentist will likely use X-ray or digital scanning equipment to evaluate the health of your teeth and gums. Again, this is an important step to qualify you as a good fit for veneers.
If you are a suitable candidate for veneers, and if you decide you want to move forward with them, your dentist will likely schedule a follow-up appointment. During this appointment, the dentist will prepare for the veneers by removing the minimal amounts of enamel needed to reshape the teeth. This is an important way to ensure a snug, comfortable fit for your veneers. Once this has been done, the dentist will take a mold of your teeth and send it off to the dental lab, where veneers can be made to your precise specifications.
What is the Process of Getting Veneers?
Once your veneers have been made and shipped to your dentist, you will have another appointment to have the veneers placed. Again, the entire process may take two to three appointments, generally speaking.
When you see your dentist to have veneers placed, the first thing your dentist will do is evaluate the veneers to make sure they look and fit properly. It is important for you and your dentist to confirm that the veneers are just what you wanted before they are placed in the mouth.
The veneers will then be adhered to the teeth with a special bonding agent… basically, a dental cement. Ultraviolet light may be used to harden this cement, so that when you leave your dentist’s office, the veneers will all be securely attached. This “curing” process takes just a minute or so.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Veneers Process
How long does it take to have veneers placed?
The final appointment, where the veneers are adhered to the teeth, usually takes no more than two hours, but can depend on the number of veneers being applied.
Does getting veneers hurt?
Some patients report no pain whatsoever; others say there is some mild discomfort. The amount of pain you experience can depend on how many veneers you are getting, and your dentist will usually offer local anesthesia if they think you will need it or if you request it.
Will I need gum contouring?
In some cases, the dentist may recommend gum contouring as a way to lengthen shorter teeth and enhance the overall appearance of the veneers. Some minor gum contouring can be done by your dentist, with no additional discomfort. In rare cases, periodontal surgery may be required to achieve the desired level of gum contouring.
What About Veneer Recovery and Aftercare?
One of the great things about getting dental veneers is that it is a minimally invasive process and does not require the use of general anesthesia. As such, there is not an extended recovery time as you might have with other procedures.
In fact, once the cement is cured and any local numbing agents wear off, you can more or less resume your daily life, eating and chewing as normal. One word of caution: Until the local anesthesia wears off, it may be all too easy to accidentally chew your tongue or the inside of your cheek. Be careful!
Another note: Immediately after your veneers are placed, they may feel coarse or rough on the surface. This is expected, and they should get worn down to a smoother texture following just a few days of regular eating and chewing. If this rough texture persists or causes any pain, call your dentist and let them know.
If there are any other specific aftercare instructions you need to follow, your dentist will let you know before you leave their office.
How Long Do Veneers Last?
One of the most common questions about dental veneers: How long do they last?
The answer to this question depends on several factors. One factor is the type of veneers you get. Porcelain veneers can last for 15 or even 20 years. Composite resin veneers will likely hold up for between five and seven years.
Additionally, the longevity of your veneers depends on how well you take care of them. We will circle back to proper veneer maintenance in just a moment.
It is important to note that veneers are intended to be irreversible. That means that once your veneers wear down or break, you will need to have them replaced with a new set of veneers.
How Much Do Veneers Cost?
Another common question about getting dental veneers: How much will it cost?
According to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry, porcelain veneers may run anywhere from $925 to $2500 per tooth. Composite veneers, on the other hand, cost somewhere in the range of $250 to $1,500 per tooth.
These are just general estimates, as there are actually several factors that can impact the total price tag of your dental veneers. Some of these factors include:
- Your dentist’s fee, which can vary by geography and by the dentist’s experience level
- The skill and artistry of the ceramicist who makes your veneers
- The type of veneers you choose
- The number of teeth you seek to treat with veneers
- The number of additional services (e.g., gum contouring) you need for veneer placement
- The type of dental insurance you have
The best way to get a more individualized quote, of course, is to meet with your dentist to discuss specific needs.
Will Insurance Pay for My Dental Veneers?
Generally speaking, insurance companies do not pay for procedures that are strictly cosmetic or elective in nature. For example, if you are seeking veneers simply to brighten stained teeth, it is very unlikely that your insurance company will pitch in to help.
In some cases, your dentist may recommend veneers as a way to deal with broken teeth. In these cases, your dentist can provide the documentation needed to show that your veneers are medically necessary; this may help you get some assistance from your insurance company. However, this is more the exception than the rule.
Of course, all insurance carriers are different, and it never hurts to check your policy to see if it might come into play with your dental veneers.
How Can I Take Care of My Dental Veneers?
To keep your veneers looking fresh and clean and to extend their lifespan for as long as possible, it is important to follow a few basic guidelines.
- Practice proper oral hygiene. The best way to keep your veneers in good shape is to make sure you brush at least twice a day, floss regularly, and stay on top of your routine dental appointments.
- Use the right brush and toothpaste. For patients with veneers, most dentists recommend using a softer toothbrush. You may also want to ask your dentist to recommend a good whitening toothpaste.
- Avoid chewing on hard objects. Are you the kind of person who chews on pen caps, fingernails, or ice cubes? It is crucial to end this bad habit, as it can very easily result in cracked or chipped veneers.
- Avoid grinding and clenching. Along the same lines, grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw can do damage to your veneers. If you struggle with tooth grinding or jaw clenching, ask your dentist about possible treatment options. A nightguard is usually recommended at the completion of all veneer cases to protect them from chipping.
- Steer clear of foods that stain your teeth. In particular, try to minimize your consumption of soda and coffee, both of which can yellow your veneers. Consider drinking from a straw, which can help minimize the effect on your teeth.
- Stop smoking. Smoking is a bad habit for lots of reasons… and one of those reasons is that smoking can cause your veneers to turn yellow and stained.
By following these basic guidelines, you can guarantee your veneers hold up for a good, long while. With any additional questions about proper veneer care, reach out to your dentist
Find Out More About Dental Veneers
As you consider your options for a brighter, healthier smile, veneers may seem like an attractive solution. For many patients, veneers can make a world of difference, both in appearance as well as in confidence.
If you are ready to learn more about getting dental veneers, we encourage you to reach out to your regular dentist. For those in the San Francisco area, we welcome you to contact Dr. Antigone Skoulas and her team, where we would love to chat with you further about the merits of dental veneers.