Are dental veneers permanent? It’s a question we hear a lot. An investment in porcelain veneers could change your life, but there’s a great deal of confusion about how long they last, whether they’re removable, and what actually constitutes “permanent.” We’re here to clear up the misconceptions about these world-class cosmetic dentistry options.
From Clip-On Veneers to Permanent “Teeth”
The traditional veneers created by Hollywood's “dentist of the stars” Charles Pincus was a temporary solution that was intended only to be worn during filming, photoshoots, and public appearances. This type of removable veneer was made from acrylic materials and could not be worn while eating or sleeping.
Since those early beginnings, advances in technology and materials have enabled cosmetic dentists to offer their clients a much more permanent solution to various dental issues like small, widely spaced, discolored, chipped, and cracked teeth. The solution? A wafer-thin porcelain veneer that is cemented onto the front of the tooth.
How Permanent Are Veneers?
When we talk about permanent veneers, that doesn’t mean they will last forever. What “permanent” in this sense really means is that:
They are cemented on and can’t be removed.
Once you have them installed, you will always need to wear them.
One reason that cosmetic veneers are a permanent decision is that a small amount of enamel has to be shaved off the front of the tooth prior to the application process. This is required to make space for the shell, though in most cases, the dentist will need to shave no more than .5 millimeters. Since the enamel doesn’t grow back, you will always need to wear some type of veneers to complete the natural thickness of your teeth.
Thankfully, traditional porcelain veneers are incredibly easy to apply over the tooth, and they’re extremely long-lasting. In most cases, you shouldn’t need to replace them more than 2 or 3 times in your entire life.
No-prep veneers, like Lumineers, can be applied without tooth shaving, as can certain kinds of composite veneers. But these ceramic veneers aren’t as durable and don’t last as long as porcelain.
How Long You Can Expect Veneers to Last
The longevity of your veneers depends on the materials used and how well you take care of your teeth. Affordable veneers made from composite resin (the material used for fillings) typically last from 5 to 7 years and can easily become stained or damaged. No-prep, reversible Lumineers made from porcelain can last from 10 to 15 years.
As the gold standard for durability and permanence, porcelain veneers last for at least 10 to 15 years, but many last for 20 years if placed by an experienced cosmetic dentist. They offer superior strength thanks to the materials and bonding techniques used. This allows you to continue with your regular routine with only a few lifestyle adjustments required.
Procedure to Replace Your Old Veneers
Even with the best materials, placement procedures, and oral hygiene, porcelain veneers may need to be replaced. Just like fillings and crowns, they deteriorate slowly over time. You will know they need to be replaced when:
They are beginning to crack and/or chip.
You are experiencing discomfort.
Your gums begin to recede.
You notice patches of decay.
Once these signs occur, your skilled dentist will gently remove the veneers together with a tiny amount of enamel. They will repeat the same dental procedure that you had with your first set of veneers:
Take a set of dental impressions.
Provide you with temporary veneers.
Cement each new dental veneer to your teeth.
In rare cases, the tooth enamel may not be sufficient to support a new veneer due to demineralization or cavities. In these cases, porcelain crowns can be used instead to provide structural support to the tooth underneath.
Regular Dental Appointments Make a Difference
Porcelain veneers are a significant investment and one you want to enjoy for as long as possible. Once you’ve made the decision to go ahead with the veneering procedure, it’s crucial to continue with your biannual checkup and cleaning afterward to protect your investment and natural teeth.
Consistent, high-quality dental care ensures that your veneers last as long as possible and always look their best. Your dentist should provide:
Prescription toothpaste to keep your smile clean
Professional cleaning that removes the plaque
Early intervention in the case of decay
Timely diagnosis of trouble areas that may require replacement
As part of your treatment plan, your dentist will often notice a problem with your teeth or veneers long before you would notice it yourself. This will save you money in the long run as you can deal with the problem before it gets worse.
Veneers Accentuate Your Smile's Natural Appearance
Porcelain veneers are a permanent decision, even if they do need a refresh once in a long while. But more than just great for your dental health, this dental treatment can contribute to a beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime. The application time is quick, but the results continue to shine again and again.
So whether you struggle with basic dental imperfections like misaligned teeth, you’ve had some damage from contact sports, or you just want your smile to look its best, porcelain veneers may just be your best cosmetic procedure. And with proper care, you can enjoy a pearly-white Hollywood smile and keep your real teeth well into your golden years.