Are veneers worth it? Procedure, Uses, Cost, Pros/Cons, and FAQs

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Procedure

Cosmetic procedure using thin shells to permanently cover teeth (after filing and reshaping) to create a new smile

Length of Procedure: 2-3 hours per appointment

Number of Visits: 1-3

Recovery Time: 1 day

Local anesthesia

Ibuprofen (1-2 days after procedure)

$800-$4,000 per tooth

Full set: $19,200 (average)

Have you been dreaming about a new smile that dazzles friends and family…or perhaps just eliminates a discolored or misshapen smile? Veneers could be a way for you to achieve just that. 

Before you take the plunge into the costly and lengthy procedure of dental veneers, I want to be sure you have all the information you need. Veneers aren’t appropriate for every person’s situation. Let’s look at the facts.

What are veneers?

Veneers are thin shells coverings made from durable, stain-resistant material that surround the front side of your teeth. Your dentist will shave down the shape of your natural teeth in order to attach veneers with special dental cement, so this cosmetic process is one you keep for life (which will require new veneers every 10-15 years.

They can create a smile makeover from previously damaged or discolored teeth.

First invented in 1928, veneers were primarily used to change the appearance of actors’ smiles and expressions for different dramatic roles. 

In 1937, the same dentist who crafted the temporary veneers for movie makeup formed a veneer from acrylic material and begin using it to create them. Today, many other materials are used to make beautiful smiles all over the world.

When to Use (and Not to Use) Veneers

You may opt for dental veneers for whiter teeth, especially if you have discoloration and whitening hasn’t been effective. Some patients want to close a gap between teeth, often their top front teeth

One of the best things about dental veneers is that they can visually correct just about any issue you have while maintaining the appearance of a natural tooth

Wanting veneers doesn’t mean you have to cover all your natural teeth, though. If only a few teeth concern you partial veneers are an option. You can discuss all those particulars with your dental care provider. 

Who should get veneers?

Veneers are perfect for people with:

  • Severely discolored teeth that can’t be whitened to the desired shade
  • Damaged teeth from trauma
  • A desire for a brand-new smile in a very short period of time for an event or role

Who should not use veneers? 

If you have any of these conditions, veneers aren’t the right choice:

  • Bruxism (teeth grinding)
  • Cavities
  • Advanced gum disease
  • Functional issues with malocclusion (crooked teeth)

Folks who suffer from the effects of bruxism (grinding or clenching teeth) are not typically good candidates for them, whether they’re made from composite material or porcelain. Grinding will drastically limit the life of your veneers.

Also, if your natural teeth have significant decay or your overall oral health is poor, you might not want to look into dental veneers. Veneers do not actually address issues with oral health; they are 100% cosmetic. Advanced tooth decay (untreated cavities) and periodontitis (gum disease) will both continue to progress, even if you cover them with veneers.

Your dentist may think other dental procedures, such as crowns or root canals, would be a better route.

Finally, veneers don’t straighten your teeth. If you have bite problems from crooked teeth (malocclusion), you may be opening yourself to a large number of health conditions by cosmetically covering up the issue. Some of these include TMJ, problems with digestion, and sleep-disordered breathing.

Instead of opting for veneers, talk to an orthodontist about straightening your teeth with Invisalign or other orthodontic treatment.

veneers-types-cost-description-pros-cons

Types of Veneers

Porcelain (or ceramic) and composite veneers are the best known types of veneers. Here are a few details about those and some other commonly known options.

Porcelain/Ceramic Veneers

Porcelain veneers are the gold standard for an award winning smile makeover. Your dental care provider will do some prep work on your teeth, make an impression, then send it off to a dental lab for the veneers to be made. 

Besides durability, porcelain/ceramic veneers are extremely stain-resistant, keeping your beautiful smile whiter longer.

The material is the best choice for more severely damaged teeth (broken or chipped, dark with discoloration, etc.).

If you grind or clench your teeth, ask your dentist about traditional porcelain veneers (because they’re stronger) and a night guard to help protect your teeth while you sleep. Keep in mind that a night guard is only a temporary measure while you determine the cause of nighttime bruxism.

Composite Resin Veneers

Composite veneers are made from resin. Although they aren’t as strong as porcelain, composite veneers are still a great product and typically cost a little less.

Veneers made from composite material usually take only one visit to fit and place, since the dental care provider can form the material and bond it to your teeth in the same day. 

Folks who don’t have a lot of issues with their teeth are great candidates for this type of veneer.

No-Prep Veneers

Used on the front teeth, no-prep veneers (popular names include Lumineers or Durathin) are bonded to your teeth like composite resin

Some of the more attractive draws to no-preps are:

  • Less has to be done to the natural teeth before application
  • Often, neither filing nor grinding are necessary
  • They can usually be applied without a local anesthetic

These pluses make no-preps less expensive, too. No-prep veneers can feel different on your teeth, due to a bulkier shape than the thin shells made from traditional porcelain veneers or composite resin veneers

Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of broken no-prep veneers. It’s all about case selection—teeth that already have a lot of issues are the best fit for these type of veneers.

In general, I avoid these types of veneers (like Lumineers). They don’t offer the same kind of results as traditional veneers and can actually lead to more expensive work down the road when a patient isn’t happy with the long-term result.

Another major drawback to no-prep veneers is that, in theory, they should come at a great discount to traditional veneers. Sadly, many dentists don’t pass along their own cost savings for this type of veneers.

You’ll need to be hyper-vigilant with dental hygiene to keep them as long as possible.

Temporary/Trial Veneers

Temporary, or trial veneers, are a short term option your dental care provider may recommend to you before placing permanent ones. 

The preparations needed to put veneers on—filing, removing enamel, etc.—cannot be reversed; therefore, your dentist may use a liquid composite to create temporary veneers that you’ll wear while the permanent ones are made. 

A little thicker than the final product, trial veneers will not feel as close to your normal teeth as your permanent veneers. However, they allow you to try them to see if the shape and appearance of your new smile is what you hope for.

Dental Veneers Procedure: What to Expect

Having dental veneers put on is not as in-depth a process as other dental procedures. The specifics depend on the type of veneer and number of teeth you choose to receive them.

Does a prosthodontist have to place dental veneers? No, veneers don’t require a specialist. 

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be particular about the person who administers them, however. Like with any oral procedure, you should look into the experience with veneers and patient reviews of your dental care provider.

The Consultation

Your first visit should be a consultation. Let your dentist know exactly what you are looking for, whether correction or simply a complete smile makeover

This visit should also include an exam of your teeth, overall tooth structure, and discussion about whether veneers is the right path to achieve your goal. 

Here’s what I tell patients to do before their consultation: Find a magazine (I often suggest Vogue) with a lot of model photography, and find all the photos of teeth you like and don’t like. Tear the pages out and make notes with your thoughts.

Then, talk about the exact features you’d like to see in your veneers.

There’s a sort of natural “algorithm” for tooth shapes and facial structure, so you’ll need to talk to your dentist about whether or not you want to stick to the rules or break them.

Depending on the direction your discussion takes, x-rays or impressions may be taken. Your dentist will also make sure you have no existing tooth decay or untreated gum disease.

At this point, the material you choose for your veneers will make the procedure longer or shorter. 

Traditional porcelain veneers, for example, are made from an impression that is sent to an outside lab. That requires you return for the remainder of the process to be completed.

Composite veneers can be made in the dentist’s office, but may require multiple visits if your dentist doesn’t create them in-office.

No-prep veneers do not require as much prep and therefore can be put on in a shorter amount of time, usually same-day.

The most effective consultations involve very open and clear communication between dentist and patient. If you’re both extremely clear, the chances of being thrilled with your final result go up astronomically.

Preparing for veneers involves removing a thin layer of enamel from the tooth surface where the veneer will be placed. The dentist may also want to lightly buff or trim chipped or broken teeth. If impressions are to be sent, your dentist may offer temporary veneers (the lab work can take 2-4 weeks). These decisions would be made according to your specific situation.

This process usually takes 2-3 hours.

Will the preparation process hurt? Because the prep for veneers varies (due to the condition of the teeth being covered), most patients will receive a local anesthetic, especially as the dentist sculpts the teeth receiving traditional veneers. Talk to your dentist about your level of pain sensitivity before starting. 

The Application

At the next visit, your new dental veneers will be checked for fit, color and shade. The dentist may also trim and adjust.

Once the dentist is satisfied, the tooth surface will be cleaned and polished. A thin layer of tooth enamel will be removed. Now the bonding agent, a type of cement, will be put on the veneer, and the veneer will be placed in its new home on your prepared tooth structure

A special light is used to cure the cement. This polymerization light activates the cement’s chemicals so it will quickly harden.

You’re now at the finishing touches stage of the procedure. Excess cement is removed, shape and appearance will be scrutinized, final adjustments can be made, and your bite will be checked. 

This is incredibly precise work, so I highly recommend you look for reviews of the cosmetic dentistry performed by your dentist ahead of time. 

This final appointment is probably going to last 1-2 hours.

Will the application process hurt? It is normal for you to be numbed while your veneers are being placed and adjusted. Once the local anesthetic takes effect, you shouldn’t feel any pain.

What about pain afterwards? If only a couple of teeth are being covered, there will likely be little more than slight gum discomfort around the affected area. If you want many teeth covered by veneers, say eight or more, it’s common to feel mild pain or even jaw soreness that can be relieved by short-term use of over-the-counter meds.

The Follow-Up

Some dentists ask for follow up appointments in 2-4 weeks. This is to check your bite, adjust your teeth further if necessary, and confirm that your gums are not irritated or compromised by the veneers.

How to Care for Dental Veneers

The more meticulous you are with oral hygiene: brushing, flossing, etc., the longer your veneers will last. Any new tooth decay or gum disease could result in the loss of your veneers.

These are must-dos for protecting your veneers and maintaining good oral health:

  1. Use a good electric toothbrush.
  2. Brush using the right toothpaste. Check out this link for the best natural toothpastes, including a hydroxyapatite option (the better alternative to fluoride).
  3. Floss regularly. 
  4. Discover the benefits of tongue scraping.
  5. Discover even more health benefits of mouth taping.
  6. Never miss a teeth cleaning/check up.

How much do veneers cost?

Prices will vary, depending on where you live, but veneers cost a range from $800-4,000/tooth. The materials, dental lab time, consult/exam(s), x-rays all factor into the price. 

A full set of veneers typically covers anywhere from 6-12 visible teeth and costs $19,200 on average. This price varies greatly, so it’s possible to pay as little as $4,800 or as much as $48,000.

Remember, few dental insurance policies will pay for them, so the expense will be solely out of pocket.

Pros and Cons of Dental Veneers

The Good Stuff

  • Veneers produce beautiful smiles
  • Veneers can create the visual of new teeth after breakage or chipping
  • Veneers are a total solution for a white smile if you have discoloration in your natural teeth
  • Veneers are durable, and most materials are stain-resistant

The Drawbacks

  • If you develop or fail to treat gum disease and recession as you age, your veneers will need replaced much sooner
  • Veneers cost a significant amount of money and aren’t covered by dental insurance 
  • Even the best quality veneers only last about 10-15 years before they need replaced 
  • Tooth surface prepping for veneers involves removal of enamel and often some filing, buffing, etc—these actions can’t be undone
  • You can’t whiten veneers, so if you get a partial set and your natural teeth change in shade, you’ll need to get a new set to match the color

Dental Veneers: Before and After

Check out the before and after experiences of patients who got veneers:

Source: Winning Smiles UK

Alternatives to Dental Veneers

If you dislike the appearance of your smile, veneers aren’t your only option. There are various treatment options that can help with tooth appearance:

  • Dental bonding: Bonding can repair one or more damaged teeth using composite resin. This is a much lower cost option to veneers but does not cover an entire set, it simply repairs the appearance of a damaged tooth.
  • Teeth whitening: There are many ways to whiten teeth, depending on your specific needs. For extreme whitening, try a custom, reusable whitening tray fitted by your dentist or an in-office professional whitening session. Trays start around $250 and professional whitening at about $650, both of which are likely less expensive than a partial set of veneers.
  • Dental crowns: For one or a few teeth with damage or uneven appearance, you may opt for dental crowns. These are most helpful if your teeth are uneven lengths or damaged by grinding.
  • Orthodontics: For misaligned teeth, your best option will be to get orthodontic correction, rather than simply disguising the problem. Although it will take significantly longer to see results, orthodontic treatment will fix the root of the problem.

Your dentist can offer details and opinions based on your specific situation, and his/her experience.

FAQs

Q:

Are veneers worth it?

A: The answer depends on your definition of “worth it”. 

I’ve had patients ask for veneers for special occasions: a big party they were attending, job interview, or photo shoot. For others, due to injury or natural tooth discoloration, veneers mean relief from embarrassment they may have when they smile.

Let me rephrase the question: what are you willing to invest in them?

Q:

Can I get veneers in one day?

A: No-prep veneers can be placed in one day. The material being used is not as strong as porcelain, and won’t be as stain resistant or durable in the long term, but are a quick option. Some offices may be able to offer composite resin crowns same-day but not all offices have this equipment.

Q:

Is a veneer the same as a crown?

A: No. Veneers are a thin shell that covers the visible, front surface of teeth. Crowns go over, or encase, the entire tooth.

Q:

Should my veneers be super white?

A: Some people choose a color for their veneers that is brighter than their natural tooth color, but not a bright white. Others want a brighter, whiter smile makeover

Temporary veneers allow you to see the shape and color of your new smile. Then, you and you dentist can decide what’s best.

Q:

Are veneers permanent? How long should they last?

A: No, dental veneers are not permanent. On average, they last 10 years, with high quality dental hygiene: brushing, flossing, regular cleanings. Some patients report veneers in good shape after even 15+ years, but this is rare.

Q:

Can veneers come off?

A: It would be very unusual if they did, due to the cement used to place them, but a new veneer can easily be put in its place.

Q:

What’s the most common reason someone needs veneers replaced?

A: The most common reason (and it’s an important one!) is gum recession, which can occur naturally with age. Most people want exposed roots covered, so they opt for new veneers. It’s vital for each patient who wants veneers to first address and correct gum issues before veneers are placed.

Extensive tooth decay may also result in replacement.

I’ve also replaced veneers for patients whose natural tooth color has changed significantly to the point it no longer matches.

Q:

What is the best brand of dental veneers?

A: Lumineers are popular, but are not as durable as porcelain veneers. I wouldn’t suggest getting stuck on a name, but rather, your dentist’s recommendations, since s/he has the experience with different materials and companies.

Q:

Can you whiten veneers?

A: You can’t whiten veneers with the use of gel or similar whitening methods. Good oral hygiene will protect then from discoloration; but, should they change occur, they may need to be replaced.

Q:

Do lip injections or other plastic surgery interfere with veneers?

A: Before a procedure like lip injections, I’d recommend getting veneers and adjusting to them. Your lips will lay on your front teeth differently, making them look fuller. 

Rhinoplasty is usually safe, without adverse effects. However, veneers should be applied first.

Q:

Which celebrities use veneers?

A: From an article on Seventeen.com, here are just a few of the young stars with veneers:

View this post on Instagram

One of us is happy to be hanging.

A post shared by Hilary Duff (@hilaryduff) on

Key Takeaways: Veneers

Veneers are a cosmetic way to get a brand new smile if your teeth have been discolored, damaged, or crooked and you’re ready for a change.

Veneers take 1-2 procedures, depending on the individual process and involve shaving down natural teeth to allow for the material to be applied. For most people, porcelain or ceramic veneers serve as the safest and longest-lasting material to choose. 

While this popular procedure can create nearly miraculous results, it’s important to remember that it comes at a high price tag and doesn’t address underlying issues with oral health.

A full set of veneers averages about $19,200 but can range from $4,800-$48,000, depending on the number of teeth, materials used, location, and individual dentist costs.

Got questions about veneers (or any other dental topic)? Ask me and get a personal response.

Read Next: Can you whiten veneers with toothpaste or whitening strips?

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