What are dental veneers?
A dental veneer is a thin piece of porcelain that is placed over the front or outer portion of a tooth. Veneers are used to recreate the natural look of your teeth. The strength and resilience of porcelain veneers is comparable to natural enamel. They are custom made to the contours of your teeth and are bonded to your teeth during a series of dental appointments. Veneers are a less intrusive option than a crown or braces. They can also be used to close gaps and correct small misalignments.
Patients often choose veneers as a cosmetic solution to enhance the brightness of their smile, correcting issues like discoloration, fractures or chips as well as straightening their smile.
Placing veneers typically takes one to two appointments. If the veneers used are prefabricated, it usually takes only one appointment. If the veneers will be custom made in a laboratory, it will generally require two appointments. Porcelain veneers are generally low maintenance and require only basic dental care like brushing, flossing and regular dental check-ups. With good care, dental veneers are expected to last many years.
Are dental veneers permanent?
Veneers are very strong and are expected to last between 10 to 15 years with proper care and maintenance. However porcelain is also delicate and certain precautions should be taken to protect your veneers from chipping or cracking, it is up to the wearer to protect them. The same kinds of things that can damage your natural tooth enamel can damage a veneer. Veneers can chip and crack like natural teeth, so biting down on hard things like ice or hard candy as well as inedible items such as a pen or paperclip, can result in a damaged veneer.
Can dental veneers be repaired?
Well placed veneers, by an experienced dentist usually have a low likelihood of chipping, but it can happen. Depending on the kind of wear or damage they acquire a veneer may need minor cosmetic repairs or a full replacement. A composite veneer can usually be repaired, however if a porcelain veneer chips or breaks, it will generally need to be replaced. This is why it is important to avoid bad habits that can damage your veneers, things like chewing on hard items, biting fingernails, opening containers with your teeth or grinding and clenching your teeth.
If a veneer comes off whole, it can be easily rebonded to your tooth. If the damage to a veneer is minor, there are a couple of options. First, the veneer could be repaired much the way a chipped tooth would be repaired with a dental composite filling. This is not a good long term solution, but it can be a good short term fix. If the damage is very minor, the dentist may be able to just smooth out the surface. This too, is not a good long term solution. The surface of a veneer is specially treated and smoothing it out will damage the surface.
Unfortunately, when a veneer breaks or chips, it is normally necessary to replace the veneer. Also, the edges of a veneer, where it meets the natural tooth, is capable of staining so care should be taken against repeated exposure to things like coffee, tea and wine.
When are dental veneers used?
Dental veneers are routinely used to fix:
- Teeth that are discolored, because of stains from drugs like tetracycline, excessive fluoride or other causes, or the presence of large resin fillings that have discolored the tooth.
- Teeth that are chipped or broken.
- Teeth that are worn down.
- Teeth that are misaligned, uneven or irregularly shaped(with craters or bulges in them, for example).
- Teeth with gaps between them, (veneers can help close the space).
Do dental veneers stain?
Porcelain veneers in particular do not stain because porcelain is impervious to staining. However, the edges of a veneer where it meets the tooth can stain, causing unsightly brown lines. Though the main surface of a veneer will not stain like your natural teeth can, scratches can occur leading to an unsightly off color appearance. The dentist can polish your veneers to correct this. Whitening toothpastes may contribute to this “scratching” and should be discussed with the dentist.
If your veneers are quite old, as in decades old, it is possible that they were made with a material that is less stain resistant than the materials that are used today. If this is the case, your best course of action will be to have the veneers replaced with new ones that are made from materials that are exceptionally strong and highly resistant to any changes in appearance over time. Newer materials also offer cosmetic appeal in that they are made to more closely match the translucence and color of natural tooth enamel.
Are dental veneers safe?
Generally, yes, veneers are safe. They do not require as much of the natural tooth structure to be removed like a crown does, for example. However, because some enamel is removed for the procedure, it is possible that your teeth could become sensitive to hot or cold food and beverages. Also, teeth with veneers can develop decay just like any other tooth, which could require further dental restorative procedures, possibly necessitating full coverage of the tooth with a crown.
Can dental veneers be whitened?
The short answer is no. Traditional whitening treatments do not work on porcelain or most bonding materials, making it impossible to whiten veneers, dentures, crowns or implants once they are in your mouth. If you plan to whiten your teeth, you should do so before getting veneers. This way the new veneers can be matched to your newly whitened teeth. Whitening your teeth after having the veneers placed in your mouth could result in the frustration of newly whitened teeth that no longer match the veneers. As with all questions about any dental procedure, your dentist is equipped to answer your questions and recommend the best procedures to achieve your desired results.
Are dental veneers expensive?
Traditional porcelain veneers can average in cost from $900 to $2,500 per tooth and can last 10 to 15 years. No prep or pre-fabricated veneers will fall in the range of $800 to $2000 per tooth and are expected to last 5 to 7 years. In the long term, traditional porcelain veneers are the usually the most cost effective option.
The cost of your veneers will depend factors like what type of veneers you are choosing, what brand name your dentist uses, your areas cost of living and the expertise of the dentist. Please contact our office to discuss any questions you have about veneers, including cost.
Are dental veneers covered by insurance?
Most dental insurance plans cover preventative services like cleanings, exams and x-rays as well as restorative procedures. While it is rare that an insurance company would help cover the cost of a new set of veneers, some plans do help pay for the cost of replacing or repairing them. The majority of insurance plans will not cover the initial placement of veneers if they are not medically necessary. That being said, you might be covered for cosmetic, whitening, and/or orthodontic services if your employer or group purchased these optional benefits for your insurance plan. It is important to check with your insurance company to find out exactly what they do and do not cover. Our office staff can help you as well.
Are dental veneers worth it?
It is important to look at all the advantages as well as the disadvantages of getting veneers when deciding if they are worth it. They are an expensive procedure and are usually not covered by insurance. The process is not reversible and veneers are usually not repairable should they chip or crack. Also, teeth with veneers are still able to get decay so good oral hygiene must be maintained.
But veneers can create an incredibly beautiful smile, in fact they have been dubbed the “Hollywood smile”. They keep more of the natural tooth intact than a crown does. Porcelain veneers are strong, stain resistant and long lasting. There is no doubt about it, if you want a beautiful smile, veneers are one of the best, least intrusive and quickest ways to get it. Discussing all of the pro’s and con’s of the procedure with your dentist is recommended, then any questions or concerns you may have can be addressed.
Are dental veneers considered cosmetic?
Yes, generally veneers are considered a cosmetic procedure. Cosmetic dental procedures deal with fixing your smile and the general appearance of your teeth. Because these types of procedures are usually not considered to be medically necessary to healthy oral function, they fall into the cosmetic category.