Porcelain veneers last about 15 to 20 years on average, but with the proper cleaning and care, you can ensure that yours last much longer. Dental-grade porcelain is much stronger than the natural enamel on your teeth, but it’s not immune to staining, degrading, and even breaking. The key is to treat your veneers with the same amount of time and care that you give to the rest of your smile.
Can You Whiten Stained Veneers?
Over time, dental veneers made of cheaper materials can become stained and/or discolored. While composite veneers can become discolored over time, it’s extremely difficult to stain porcelain veneers. They’re among the most stain-resistant prosthetics available.
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If you’re considering whitening, the most likely reason is that the surrounding teeth have become discolored and your smile now looks uneven. There are numerous reasons why your natural teeth may no longer match the color of your veneers:
Excessive consumption of coffee, tea, red wine, or tobacco
Poor oral hygiene
When this happens, teeth-whitening may seem like the natural solution. Unfortunately, veneers don’t respond well to at-home whitening treatments. Whitening toothpastes commonly contain abrasives like hydrogen peroxide and should be avoided. Whitening strips may be used to brighten up the surrounding teeth, but it’s unlikely that the teeth will once again match the shade of your veneers.
The only way to ensure a smooth result is to speak with your dentist about a professional treatment. A knowledgeable cosmetic dentist may recommend a complete teeth whitening followed by the implantation of a new veneer. The glaze of the replacement veneer will be carefully customized to match the surrounding teeth, leaving you with a smooth, red-carpet smile.
As long as you make oral hygiene a priority every day, you should be able to keep your veneers and your teeth looking their best for years to come.
Caring for Your Veneers
Routine maintenance is critical to ensuring that your porcelain veneers last as long as possible. Deep-cleaning efforts won’t be effective if you’re not already caring for your veneers on a daily basis.
Brush and floss regularly. When your veneers are placed, you need to be especially diligent about brushing and flossing after each meal—or at least twice a day. You want to be proactive about preventing gum disease, as this condition can cause the gums to recede and potentially damage the veneers. For more about how to clean veneers, refer to the next section.
Say no to tobacco products. Cigarettes and other tobacco products can contribute to unsightly yellow stains. While porcelain is stain-resistant, excessive tobacco contamination can take a toll, and the bonding material used to secure the veneers is especially vulnerable to staining.
Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum. Consuming excess alcohol can soften the bonding composites, making the bonding line more vulnerable to staining and deterioration.
Avoid excessively hard foods. Crunchy foods like tortilla chips and cereals are okay. But if you’re accustomed to chewing on ice, hard candy, or even pencils, you’ll want to kick the habit as these can chip and damage porcelain veneers.
Avoid grinding and clenching your teeth. These types of repeated compulsions can wear down veneers and damage the porcelain over time. You can reduce grinding by wearing a mouthguard while you sleep.
Visit your dentist regularly. You should receive a professional cleaning every 6 months and an examination every year to keep your veneers in excellent shape.
With optimal care, it’s not unprecedented for veneers to last up to 15 years or more.
How to Clean Porcelain Veneers
Daily maintenance is essential for keeping your veneers clean, but these delicate coverings require more care than your natural teeth.
Use a soft-bristle toothbrush to brush your veneers. Those thin enamel coverings are more sensitive than natural teeth and may be prone to scratching, so avoid brushes with hard bristles. Consider using an electric toothbrush with soft bristles, as the pressure exerted is better-controlled than manual brushing, resulting in less pressure on your gums.
Use a non-abrasive toothpaste. Your cosmetic dentist may recommend a specialized fluoride toothpaste that’s formulated for veneers. If you’re choosing a toothpaste on your own, it’s very important that you avoid abrasive formulas, such as those containing baking soda or hydrogen peroxide.
Use gentle motions when brushing and flossing. Aggressive and forceful motions may chip or otherwise damage your veneers. When your veneers are placed, your dentist should provide you with instructions on how to properly brush and floss. Once again, an electric toothbrush with soft bristles can be useful.
Use an alcohol-free mouthwash every time you brush. A quality antiseptic mouthwash can destroy plaque, prevent gum disease, and help you to keep your veneers looking their whitest. As previously noted, however, alcohol can soften the bonding composites and contribute to premature degradation of veneers. So look for an alcohol-free mouthwash.
If you’re trying to remove stains or discoloration, you should schedule an appointment for a professional cleaning with your dentist.