Are you unhappy with the appearance of your smile?
Do you refrain from smiling with your mouth open or otherwise showing your teeth?
Then getting cosmetic veneers placed on your teeth might be a good choice for you, especially if tooth whitening treatments or bleaching haven’t worked the way you want them to, if you have chipped, broken, discoloured, or significantly worn teeth, or if you think your teeth are too small, too pointy, or are otherwise awkwardly positioned in your mouth.
There are a variety of options for dental veneers depending on your needs, the type of look you want, your budget, and more.
You should definitely do your research and be sure to understand all your options before you get veneers applied to your teeth – after all, they are essentially permanent, can be quite the investment, and you “wear” your teeth every day, and the look of your teeth has a major effect on your overall appearance and even your overall self-confidence.
Read on to learn more about the process and what type of veneers might be the right choice to brighten your smile.
- What Are Veneers?
- What Do Veneers Look Like?
- How Do Veneers Work?
- Types of Dental Veneers
- Where Can You Get Veneers?
- When Can You Get Veneers?
- Advantages of Dental Veneers
- Disadvantages of Veneers
- How to Get Veneers?
- Appointment One: Dental Veneer Diagnosis & Planning
- Appointment Two: Getting Temporary Dental Veneers
- Appointment Three: Placing the Dental Veneers
- Does Getting Dental Veneers Hurt?
- How Long Do Veneers Last?
- Taking Care of Your Veneers
- Alternatives to Veneers
- Dental Veneers: Before & After
- The Cost of Porcelain Veneers or Dental Veneers
- Are You Thinking of Getting Dental Veneers?
What Are Veneers?
Dental veneers are thin, tooth-coloured shells or coverings made of porcelain or various types of composite materials that are placed over the visible parts of your teeth.
These teeth overlays cover the front of each tooth they are applied and look just like natural teeth (but better) and are meant to improve the appearance of your smile.
Dental veneers are customised to match the colour and general shape of your existing teeth so they look just like new and improved versions of your own teeth.
If you have noticeably chipped, broken, or worn teeth, or stains on your teeth that cannot be fixed by bleaching or whitening treatments, then veneers might be a good choice for you.
Veneers can also mask grayness or other discolourations caused by root canals and drug treatments like tetracycline or excessive fluoride, or even cover over an old tooth filling that has discoloured or are more obvious than you’d like.
What Do Veneers Look Like?
Properly crafted, customised, and applied dental veneers look just like better or enhanced versions of your natural teeth.
What’s more, dental veneers can also help improve the look and shape of your smile by altering the appearance of and the positioning of your teeth, causing smaller teeth appear bigger, close in any gaps, fix any unusually pointy teeth, and make your whole smile more even.
If you have a gray or discoloured tooth from previous damage or injury, dental veneers can also help fix that.
Tooth veneers can also help smooth over teeth that have bulges, craters, or have uneven surfaces or edges.
Veneers are a great option for someone who doesn’t have extensive damage to their teeth, but wants to perfect their natural smile in a relatively non-invasive way.
How Do Veneers Work?
Teeth veneers work by covering your existing teeth with a wafer-thin layer of porcelain or similar composite material or composite resin.
They are applied by removing 0.3 – 0.5 millimeters off the surface of the tooth in order to preserve the nerve of the tooth and keep it at maximum strength, ensuring that your veneers teeth last for a long time and that there will be little to no issues replacing them if necessary in the future.
You do not have to cover every tooth with a veneer, just the ones that are problematic and potentially the neighboring teeth.
Your dentist can make the best possible recommendation as to how many individual veneers you need and match their shape and colour to the natural teeth the veneers are surrounded by.
Moreover, you can get full veneers that completely cover the tooth, or partial veneers that only cover damaged or discoloured areas depending on the problems that you want to solve and the current state of your mouth.
Many people choose to only veneer their front teeth (top or bottom or both) since those are the most visible.
Sometimes your dentist can fit in individual tooth veneers like puzzle pieces if much of your smile is already the way you want it; each veneer can be coloured to match your existing teeth for a seamless look.
Types of Dental Veneers
There are several different types of tooth veneers or dental veneers available.
The right material for you depends on the problems you want to fix.
Porcelain veneers are considered to be the best at resisting stains and mimicking the light-reflecting shine of natural healthy teeth, while resin composite veneers are less expensive and can be a good alternative, but they do not always last as long as porcelain veneers.
In fact, porcelain veneers are considered to be the original or traditional type of veneers, but composite tooth veneers and resin tooth veneers are also a possibility depending on your goals, the issues with your teeth, and what your dentist recommends.
Another and simpler way to get teeth veneers is to ask your dentist if no-prep veneers will work for you.
Think of these types of dental veneers as contact lenses for your teeth.
There’s no drilling, sanding, or grinding or major numbing involved in getting no-prep veneers, but they can alter the colour and appearance of your teeth.
That said, if your teeth are seriously chipped or damaged texturally, or structured or pointed in a way that requires some reshaping before veneers can really make a difference, no-prep veneers may not work for you.
It is also possible to get a mixture of no-prep and traditional porcelain veneers at the same time, which can be beneficial since even a few less invasive veneers can speed up your recovery time and lessen the potential damage to your underlying tooth enamel; ask your dentist what might work best for your teeth and your dreams for your smile.
Where Can You Get Veneers?
Your regular dentist might already offer dental veneers as one of their services; if not they can refer you to a cosmetic dentist who focuses on beautifying your smile.
You should always thoroughly vet your cosmetic or veneer dentist by checking out their presence online including any reviews, ask for before and after pictures, and more.
Even starting with an Internet search for “veneers near me” may bring up local dentist professionals that are located conveniently near you – make sure to thoroughly check their reviews.
After all, if you get veneers on your teeth, you’ll be seeing the work of the dentist that created and applied them for around a decade every time you look in the mirror – so you want to make sure that you are seeing someone who is not only skilled, but who can help you get the look you hope to achieve.
Choosing a dentist to craft and install your veneers can be complicated.
You’ll want to see veneer before and after photos of their work as well as consult with them to see how their style and methods mesh with your ambitions.
One thing to keep in mind throughout the process is that you want to find a dentist who’ll not only listen to your aspirations and goals, but also keep things realistic and maintain the individual quirks that make your facial expressions and various types of smiles special and well, you.
When Can You Get Veneers?
If you are less than thrilled with the overall look of your teeth and your smile, you can always consider getting veneers.
Having said that, most of the time when people get veneers, they are looking to improve specific aspects of their teeth, such as discolourations like a gray tooth from a root canal or traumatic injury, discoloured teeth from previous drug treatments or excessive fluoride exposure, chipped or broken teeth, crooked teeth or gaps, teeth that are too small or pointy, or other problems that result in a mouth that simply isn’t optimal, appearance-wise.
Getting dental veneers can be a great option if you have slightly crooked teeth but don’t want to endure the pain of braces – not to mention the visual aspects of having braces as an adult.
Also, a new set of thinner, updated tooth veneers can be called for if you already have an older set that is due for an update or your current set of teeth veneers is too thick and unnatural looking.
One thing to be aware of is that if you’ve recently had an injury to your mouth like a broken tooth or dental surgery for a root canal or similar problem, you will likely need to wait for everything to heal before you can begin the process of getting veneers placed.
Advantages of Dental Veneers
Some of the main advantages of veneers are that they are relatively non-invasive and less painful than braces or other orthodontics.
They are also not totally permanent so they can be adjusted as your face changes as you age (a set lasts around ten years), and they are totally customizable so you can likely achieve your ideal natural looking smile.
Unlike more invasive or extensive dental procedures like porcelain crowns or teeth caps, teeth veneers also do not require extensive shaping of your gums or existing teeth to install, so they are considered to be a more conservative option and relatively low risk since they can be removed (with some albeit likely minimal damage) or altered or replaced at a later date.
If you choose to remove your veneers later, your underlying teeth should still be healthy and functional afterwards, provided there were no complications with the veneers while they were in place in your mouth.
Getting veneers on your teeth can also be a good solution if you have stains or discolourations on your teeth that resist or cannot be treated by bleaching or whitening treatments, or if you have crooked teeth or gaps in your teeth and you want to want to avoid the pain and less than desirable appearance of braces, Invisalign, or other orthodontic devices.
Disadvantages of Veneers
Once veneers are applied, they are there to stay – for several years at least, and removal can be painful.
Since your teeth are sanded or grinded down slightly to adhere the veneer to the tooth, removing them will affect the look and feel of your teeth if you don’t get a new set installed.
Another thing to keep in mind is that porcelain veneers are not easy to chip but if they do chip or crack, you’ll need to remove it the chipped veneer and replace it with a new one.
They can be damaged if you grind your teeth, and the underlying tooth or teeth beneath the veneer can still decay, necessitating the need for a crown, cap, dental implants or mini dental implants in the future.
You still have to look after your veneers like natural teeth with good brushing, flossing and regular dental cleans.
Once you get veneers on your teeth, they may initially be more sensitive to hot and cold foods or liquids for a short period of time.
Finally, keep in mind that if you plan to get lip injections, fillers, or other cosmetic procedures around the mouth, lip, chin, and cheek area, the changes to your face can affect the appearance of your teeth veneers.
If you want to whiten or bleach your non-veneer covered teeth, you’ll want to do that before you get dental veneers placed, since once they are installed you cannot alter the colour or shade of the porcelain or composite material.
How to Get Veneers?
Getting dental veneers is a process that involves multiple steps.
Once you and your dentist have determined that veneers are a good course of action and an appropriate solution for the issues you have with your teeth and smile, you’ll have a series of appointments.
Getting tooth veneers usually requires at least three separate visits to your dentist spaced out over a month or longer; there will likely be follow-up appointment(s) down the line to ensure that you are comfortable and happy later as well.
Note that if you want to whiten or bleach the teeth that you are not getting veneered, you should do that before you get your temporary veneers in order to ensure that your dentist can match the colour perfectly.
Appointment One: Dental Veneer Diagnosis & Planning
The first appointment is for diagnosis of your dental problems and treatment planning.
When you and your dentist will start the preliminary steps of the process by discussing your objectives and providing examples of teeth and smiles that you like.
Your dentist will discuss your desires and preferences and any limitations that you may have.
They will also look at your smile and face from every angle, examine and make impressions of your bite, ask you to make various expressions and take pictures of each one from the front and side, and even study how you talk to make sure that your newly updated teeth don’t affect your voice or speech patterns.
At this initial appointment, your dentist will take X-rays of your mouth in order to ascertain any issues with your mouth, then create a mold or impression of your teeth that they will then use to create your new veneers which will be fitted, coloured, and otherwise designed to create your perfect new smile.
It may take anywhere from a week to a month to get your temporary veneers ready for your next appointment.
Appointment Two: Getting Temporary Dental Veneers
The second appointment is for the review of your customised veneers.
You’ll have temporary veneers made out of liquid composite to wear for several days or longer to get used to the new look – and you’ll be able to give your dentist feedback before the permanent ones are placed.
At this appointment, your dentist will trim the temporary veneers to fit your teeth exactly and paint them the colour or shade that seems the most suited to match the rest of your existing teeth.
During the time you have your temporary veneers (which is typically 2- 3 weeks), you will be able to check out and “live with” your new teeth for a while, allowing you to give feedback and make any changes before the veneers are cemented to your teeth at the third appointment.
Think of these temporary dental veneers as test driving a car in the model that you’re thinking of buying, but then you’ll order the exact one with all the finishes customised to your preferences if you like the test version.
The temporary veneers and all the other preparation allow your dentist to design your refreshed or updated smile before they ever touch your actual teeth, keeping the grinding or drilling to a minimum and reducing the potential stress and damage to the actual teeth underneath the porcelain veneers.
Generally, dentists aim for a 0.5-millimeter reduction of each tooth before placing a full veneer, partial veneers may require less and no-prep veneers do not require any sanding, grinding, or drilling at all (just thorough cleaning and polishing).
Appointment Three: Placing the Dental Veneers
Finally, the third appointment is when your new teeth veneers are actually installed. Before the veneers are actually glued into place, your dentist will place them over your teeth and make any final tweaks or adjustments to the shape, fit, and even the colour (which can be adjusted via the shade of the dental cement used to adhere them).
When you and your dentist are both happy with the look of the veneer on each tooth, then they will be glued into place.
The veneer procedure itself takes several hours and it is performed under local anesthetic or numbing agents involves carefully deep cleaning the teeth before bonding the porcelain veneers onto your teeth.
Next, dental bond is applied and an ultraviolet light is used to bind and harden the adhesive that attaches your veneers to your teeth.
Finally, any excess cement is removed and final adjustments are made as your dentist evaluates the look and placement of the veneers, making sure they fit with your bite and are comfortable as well as attractive.
After that you are all ready to debut your new smile!
You will be able to talk, eat, and otherwise behave normally once the aesthetic and numbness wear off, although your jaw and mouth area may be sore for several days.
You’ll have a follow-up visit after you’ve lived with your permanent teeth veneers for several weeks in order to make sure everything is healing nicely and your gums and bite are responding properly to the new additions to your teeth.
Does Getting Dental Veneers Hurt?
While the initial consultation and examination is painless, the temporary veneers may cause a little soreness as your mouth and jaw adjust, and the procedure itself can be uncomfortable, but you will have a local anesthetic and numbing agents, and your dentist may offer a sedative if you need it.
Afterwards, your gums and jaw may be tender and sore for several days or a week while you adjust to your newly veneered teeth; if the pain is acute or persists for longer, you should contact the dentist who applied the veneers as soon as possible.
How Long Do Veneers Last?
Properly installed porcelain veneers can last for up to a decade or even longer if you take good care of them.
Gum tissue tends to tolerate porcelain quite well, especially since it is very similar to the texture and strength of your actual teeth.
Veneers are quite strong – nearly as strong as your actual teeth, if you take care of them properly and keep certain precautions in mind.
If your dental veneers crack or get damaged somehow, contact your dentist immediately to assess the damage and get them repaired or replaced.
Broken veneers can harm the tooth enamel or even the root of the tooth underneath, so it is important to get any issues resolved right away.
Taking Care of Your Veneers
Caring for your veneers can be relatively simple and similar to taking care of your own teeth in terms of brushing, flossing, and other standard dental hygiene including regular cleanings, but there are a few special caveats.
You’ll want to be especially careful eating hard, tough, or chewy foods, especially at first. What’s more, you’ll need to protect your investment by always wearing a mouthguard when playing contact sports, wearing a retainer or splint at night to protect your veneers, especially if you grind your teeth, and avoiding chewing on pens, crunching on ice, or biting your nails.
Finally, be aware that you should try and reduce the consumption of red wine, coffee, and other foods or drinks that can stain your teeth because your veneers can get stained in the same manner.
Alternatives to Veneers
If you don’t think that veneers are for you, there are some other options that may provide a similar result.
Bonding is a way of closing gaps between two or more teeth by literally bonding them together, so if your primary reason for wanting dental veneers is to close the gaps between your teeth, bonding may be a good alternative option to look into.
What is the difference between dental veneers and teeth caps or crowns?
Crowns are applied to a chipped tooth or broken teeth in order to make the tooth appear whole; if you have a severely broken, chipped, or otherwise damaged tooth you may need to get that tooth or teeth repaired in addition to getting veneers over the top of a crown or similar solution.
If you have further issues like discolouration or misshapen teeth, you could potentially get dental veneers in addition to crowns.
Of course, always consult your dentist in order to work out the best solution that will allow for the best possible results and the smile that you deserve.
Dental Veneers: Before & After
When you are looking for a cosmetic dentist to craft your ideal teeth and smile, you want to start by looking at their examples of clientele’s teeth veneers before and after getting them installed.
Your dentist should be able to provide before and after images that show the front and both sides of their patients’ faces (smiling and not smiling).
You should also check out their reviews online and look for social proof of satisfied patients as well.
Some dentists who offer veneers may offer 3D imaging so you can see what your potential new smile could look like.
Another thing to know when you are researching dental veneers and making any decision about the appearance of your teeth is that one solution doesn’t fit all mouths.
A smart and experienced cosmetic dentist will be able to not only customise your veneers to help you get the look you want, they will be able to be realistic about what you can and can’t achieve as well as what will help you keep your unique look and smile.
Accordingly, when you are looking at the before and after images of porcelain veneers or other types of veneers, make sure that you check out how the dentist keeps the individuality of each patient’s smile and teeth in place – veneers shouldn’t be cookie-cutter or one size fits all, they should be an enhanced version of your smile.
The Cost of Porcelain Veneers or Dental Veneers
Veneers can vary in price depending on your location and the extent of the procedure, or the number of teeth that you need covered with dental veneers.
Dental veneers can range in cost from around $1,000 to $2,000 per tooth depending on the material that you select and the amount of damage that needs to be covered or repaired.
Porcelain veneers and composite veneers or resin veneers may also have varying rates depending on the brand your dentist works with.
Note that veneers are not typically covered by dental insurance since they are considered to be a cosmetic procedure, but of course you should check your specific dental insurance policy to be sure.
There may also be a fee for the initial consultation about your cosmetic veneers, but that can often be put towards the final total if you decide to go forward with getting the veneers placed (of course, ask your dentist about this and all other itemised costs before you sign on the dotted line).
Are You Thinking of Getting Dental Veneers?
Remember that the most important thing is to do your research, look at all your options, and remember that no one single smile fits all solution, so you want to work with an experienced cosmetic dentistry team who will customise your veneers to suit your face, your preferences, and your aesthetic goals for your appearance.