Hundreds of people get porcelain veneers in Beverly Hills every month in order to instantly transform their smile. These veneers are durable, long-lasting and low-maintenance, and best of all, they look completely natural. If you’re considering getting porcelain veneers, there are a few things you need to know.
What Are Porcelain Dental Veneers?
A porcelain dental veneer is a thin cap made out of porcelain that’s placed over the natural tooth to conceal discoloration, external damage, or a misalignment. If you’re trying to cover an aesthetic imperfection on an otherwise healthy tooth, veneers are often the way to go. The cap looks just like natural enamel, so the veneer blends perfectly with the surrounding teeth.
The highest-quality veneers are made of porcelain because this material offers a high level of durability and stain resistance. More cost-effective options like composite veneers don’t offer the same level of value and aesthetic. With proper care, porcelain veneers can last up to 20 years. Composite veneers may last 10 to 15 years and are more prone to chipping and staining. Porcelain also looks more natural.
The Dental Veneers Procedure
There are typically three appointments involved in porcelain dental veneers: consultation, preparation appointment, and placement appointment.
The consultation is where you sit down with the cosmetic dentist and discuss your goals with the procedure. The dentist will go over the basics with you, devise a plan for the procedure, and discuss payment or financing options. They may also examine your teeth and conduct basic tests like X-rays to determine if you’re a good candidate for veneers. If the tooth isn’t strong enough or healthy enough to support a dental veneer, the dentist may recommend an alternative treatment such as a crown.
Porcelain Veneer Preparation
At the preparation appointment, the dentist shaves down a razor-thin layer of enamel on the tooth—usually no more than .5 to .7 millimeters—to support the thickness of the veneer. This is a quick procedure, and the dentist typically uses a local anesthetic to minimize discomfort.
Once the tooth has been prepped, the dentist takes an impression of the tooth to send to a laboratory. The lab then custom-designs the veneer based on the impression and color profile provided by the dentist, usually within 1 to 2 weeks. While your new veneer is being created, the dentist may provide you with a temporary veneer.
Placing the Porcelain Veneers
The placement process is the final step of the veneers procedure. The dentist fuses the finished veneer to the tooth using a bonding material and then hardens the material under a special light. They check to ensure a proper fit and a secure bond before providing you with basic care instructions and sending you on your way.
If there is any prolonged discomfort, if you’re unable to maintain a comfortable bite, or if the bond isn’t as secure as it should be, you can schedule a follow-up appointment for any necessary adjustments. For most patients, though, no additional appointments are required except for bi-annual checkups and cleanings.
What to Expect After Getting Porcelain Veneers
You may experience slight tooth sensitivity after veneers are placed. Some patients report increased sensitivity to hot and cold, largely due to the shaving process which reduces the amount of enamel around the nerve. Rest assured that this discomfort is only temporary and usually subsides after 1 to 2 weeks.
You may also have some initial difficulties with your bite. Your brain will need a few days to adjust to the changes in your mouth, and so it’s not uncommon to have an awkward bite or to produce excess saliva in the days following your procedure. This too is only temporary.
After you adjust to your new veneers, you won’t even notice them most of the time. They’ll feel like a natural part of your smile. But because you’re dealing with porcelain and not with natural tooth enamel, you’ll have to take a few extra care precautions.
How to Care for Porcelain Veneers
Porcelain dental veneers are designed to withstand almost anything, but you still need to take special care if you want to ensure the maximum lifespan. There are several golden rules of caring for porcelain veneers:
Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day.
Use a prescription-strength fluoride toothpaste that’s formulated for veneers if your dentist advises it.
Avoid using toothpastes that contain whitening agents like baking soda or hydrogen peroxide.
Floss daily to prevent plaque accumulation in the areas surrounding your veneers.
Use an alcohol-free, antiseptic mouthwash every day to kill the bacteria that can erode the natural teeth.
Avoid smoking, and cease the use of any tobacco products.
Use a mouth guard if you find yourself grinding your teeth at night.
See your dentist twice a year: once for a deep cleaning, and once for an annual checkup.
You can also whiten your veneers if they get stained. However, stains should not be an issue with veneers made out of porcelain as it is virtually 100% stain-resistant. Visit your dentist immediately if you have any problems with your porcelain veneers.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Porcelain Veneers?
Porcelain veneers are ideal for patients with healthy teeth who are looking to improve the look of their smile. Maybe one of your teeth is chipped, you’re hoping to close a gap, or a couple of teeth remain discolored despite repeated whitening efforts. Veneers can give you the picture-perfect smile you’re looking for.
The tooth must be healthy in order to support a veneer. If there is any underlying tooth decay, the tooth will continue to rot after the veneer is placed, leading to further damage down the line. The dentist may be able to treat minor problems like cavities before placing a veneer, but more severe damage will require a different type of intervention. For instance, if the tooth is cracked, damaged, or otherwise weak, it will require a more supportive structure like a crown.
Alternatives to Porcelain Dental Veneers
In recent years, a number of porcelain veneer alternatives have become popular, most notably no-prep veneers. These types of veneers are often made with a fine laminate instead of porcelain. This allows for a razor-thin construction that eliminates the need for tooth-shaving. Lumineers are perhaps the best-known example of no-prep veneers.
Many patients choose no-prep veneers because of the reduced invasiveness and lower cost. However, these veneers do not last as long as traditional porcelain veneers, and they’re more prone to damage. So if you do opt for Lumineers or another type of no-prep veneers, you’ll need to be especially diligent with your daily care.
The Cost of Porcelain Dental Veneers
The average cost of a porcelain dental veneer can vary significantly based on several factors. For instance:
The patient’s oral health
The patient’s needs and considerations (for example, if the patient prefers sedation dentistry, this can come at an added cost)
The dentist’s skill and experience level
The location of the dental facility
In general, porcelain veneers can range in price from $900 to $2,500 per tooth, or about $1,700 on average. But before you shop around for the lowest price, remember that it’s always worth it to pay a bit more for the highest level of skill and experience.
Also, make sure you know what you’re paying for. The total cost should include the tooth preparation, the procedure, and the caps themselves. Ancillary costs like X-rays may not be covered.
Are Porcelain Veneers Covered by Insurance?
Because porcelain veneers are considered a cosmetic solution, most insurance carriers do not cover the procedure. With that said, there are numerous ways to pay for veneers, such as:
Financing. If you schedule an appointment for dental veneers with Arthur Glosman, DDS, we’ll work with you to set up a convenient payment plan.
Apply for a healthcare credit card. A healthcare credit card—like the kind offered by CareCredit, AccessOne, and Wells Fargo—can help you to secure financing with a low interest rate.
Apply for a cosmetic dentistry grant. If you qualify, you may be able to have your costs covered by the non-profit Cosmetic Dentistry Grants program.
For more tips, refer to our guide on how to pay for cosmetic dentistry.
Are Porcelain Dental Veneers Worth It?
Porcelain veneers make it easy to upgrade your smile, and the results can last up to 20 years. They’re natural-looking, stain-resistant, and durable, and they’re suitable for addressing a range of smile perfections. While they won’t repair decaying or weak teeth, the aesthetic benefits are second to none.
If you’re considering veneers, be sure to consult an experienced cosmetic dentist who specializes in the procedure. By working with a knowledgeable professional and doing your part to care for your new veneers, you can ensure a flawless smile that lasts for years.