If you have broken, chipped, or discolored teeth, you may consider dental veneers as an option for improving your smile’s appearance. Dental veneers are used to treat a number of cosmetic concerns, making them one of the most common forms of cosmetic dentistry. But with so many different types of dental veneers, it can be confusing to figure out what is best for you.
Smiling shouldn’t feel embarrassing or stressful, which is why many people elect to get dental veneers. Here’s what to know about this elective procedure so you know what to expect.
What Are Dental Veneers?
Dental veneers are tooth-colored shells—often thin and wafer-like—that attach and fit over the front surface of teeth. When these shells are bonded to your teeth, they can help improve the size, length, color, shape, and function of teeth. Because veneers are permanently bonded to your teeth, they can ultimately improve tooth appearance, protect against further damage, and create a beautiful, symmetrical smile.
Do dental veneers look natural? Because veneers are meant to improve the appearance of your teeth, they are custom-made to look as natural as possible. While they aren’t used to replace missing teeth, they can fix teeth that are slightly crooked, chipped, or stained. They can also fix tooth gaps or teeth sized differently than surrounding teeth.
Dental veneers are typically considered a cosmetic treatment, rather than restorative, because people elect to have these shells placed on their teeth for aesthetic reasons. They are rarely used for medical purposes and are most commonly placed on the front teeth rather than the back molars.
Why Do People Get Dental Veneers?
There are a variety of reasons people may opt to get dental veneers. Many patients are looking to improve the appearance of their teeth, while others want a long-term solution to protect against further damage. The ability to cover up teeth that are chipped, broken, smaller-than-average, or discolored makes dental veneers a very appealing cosmetic option for many.
Other things veneers are routinely used to fix include:
- Discoloration and staining due to root canal treatment, large resin fillings, excessive fluoride, or other causes
- Teeth that are broken, chipped, or worn down
- Teeth that are uneven or misaligned
- The appearance of craters or bulges on teeth that make them irregularly shaped
- Gapping between teeth
Some may choose to get one veneer if they only have one tooth that’s broken or chipped, but others might decide to get six or eight veneers to create an even, symmetrical smile. This is commonly done on the top front teeth, where people are more likely to feel self-conscious if they have problems with their teeth.
What Are the Different Types of Dental Veneers?
With so many different types of dental veneers, the options can feel overwhelming. Certain types of dental veneers may have different costs than others, and you can even choose different shades and materials.
Your dentist will work with you to figure out the best treatment option for you. No matter the differences, however, most veneers are permanent and can’t be removed after placement, so you’ll want to consider your options carefully.
Porcelain laminate veneers are the most common type of veneer, mainly because it’s the strongest and longest-lasting material available. With proper dental hygiene and upkeep, these veneers can last 10 to 15 years. They are also completely customized for your mouth, giving you the versatility to decide what shape and shade are best.
Before placement, your dentist will likely shave down your current tooth so the veneer will fit correctly. They will then apply a bonding agent and the porcelain shell. If your tooth has any extreme discoloration, your dentist may recommend using opaques to cover the staining.
Porcelain veneers rarely damage gum tissue or the surrounding soft tissue in your mouth, so they are considered a great permanent solution for those who don’t like how their teeth look.
Composite veneers are a quicker and more affordable option compared to porcelain ones. Because they can be made quickly, the placement procedure can usually be done in one day. Prior to placement, your dentist may recontour your teeth to fit the veneer correctly.
Composite veneers are made with the same material used for cavity fillings—composite resin, which consists of a mixture of organic and inorganic materials. Because of this, they typically last five to seven years with proper care, and they may be prone to staining over time. Fortunately, if a composite veneer becomes chipped, it can be repaired fairly easily.
Also known as palatal onlays, this type of veneer is used to correct the anterior teeth from damage from bruxism, a deep overbite, dental erosion caused by acid reflux or vomiting, or other problems. With palatal veneers, only the compromised part of the tooth can be restored while the rest is left untouched.
Lumineers are a specific brand of veneers that are ultra-thin, translucent, and made with a porcelain laminate material. They are commonly used to treat teeth that are misshaped or discolored.
This type of veneer doesn’t require tooth recontouring or reduction; instead, minimal preparation is required before a lumineer is placed over your tooth’s enamel. Additionally, lumineers can last for up to 20 years if cared for properly.
There are less expensive, non-permanent veneer options that do not require placement by your dentist. Removable veneers can be bought and custom-made to fit your teeth right from the comfort of your home.
There are usually two types of removable veneers. Custom clip-on veneers require an impression of your teeth, and then you are mailed the custom-fit veneer set afterward. On the other hand, instant veneers are an extremely inexpensive option that can be molded to your teeth by placing the soft-fitting material in hot water.
Although removable veneers can be more affordable for many, they should be used with caution. They can be uncomfortable, have a short lifespan, must be replaced often, and they don’t blend in as well with your natural teeth. They can also be prone to plaque build-up, potentially leading to other oral hygiene problems like causing harm to the gum tissue.
Because of this, we do not recommend using removable veneers daily as a long-term solution for dental problems.
Risks of Dental Veneers
Unfortunately, there are some risks and side effects of veneers. With proper dental care, these problems can be avoided most of the time. Some common risks of dental veneers include:
- Tooth Damage: During veneer placement, there is a risk of damage to the tooth’s dentin, the layer below your tooth’s enamel. The dentin can become damaged during the process of filing down your tooth’s enamel before the veneer is placed.
- Tooth Sensitivity: During the first few weeks after veneer placement, some tooth sensitivity is common and should resolve on its own. However, it is possible to experience sensitivity to hot or cold liquids and foods for longer periods, possibly due to the tooth’s nerve being inflamed and becoming infected because of the placement procedure.
- Veneer Replacement: If you have cavities, gum disease, enamel erosion, or other untreated dental conditions, it’s essential to seek restorative dental treatment before getting veneers. If these issues are left untreated, the veneer is more likely to fail.