Cosmetic porcelain veneers have received a lot of attention in the media for their popularity among celebrities, and if you're considering this treatment for yourself, it can be helpful to know some of the finer details before jumping in.
At our Beverly Hills dental spa, we frequently place porcelain veneers and find that the patients who are well-informed before the procedure are the ones who end up being the happiest with their brand-new smiles.
1. There Are Different Types of Cosmetic Veneers
First things first. When talking about dental veneers, it's important to know that there are around four different types of veneers that are used in cosmetic dentistry today.
Clip-on veneers. Clip-on veneers are temporary veneers that can be removed for eating, drinking, brushing your teeth, and sleeping. Some 1930s movie stars, including Shirley Temple, wore clip-on veneers over their natural teeth.
Composite veneers. Composite resin veneers are thin shells that are cemented onto the front of the patient's natural teeth—just like traditional porcelain veneers. The difference is that composite veneers are made from a lower-cost resin material and only last for around half as long as porcelain veneers.
Lumineers. Lumineers are thin versions of traditional porcelain veneers that don't require much (if any) of the tooth enamel to be removed. The main difference between Lumineers and traditional veneers besides the thickness is that Lumineers don't typically last as long as traditional veneers.
Traditional porcelain veneers. Full-thickness porcelain dental veneers are considered the gold standard for patients who are committed to the process and want a semi-permanent result. A very thin layer of enamel is removed to make space for the custom veneers, which are cemented permanently to each tooth and typically last for 10 to 15 years.
2. Veneers Can Be Made In Various Shades of White
Porcelain veneers have developed a reputation for looking abnormally white. However, veneers can actually be made in a wide range of tooth-colored shades. The whitest shade for teeth going by the VITA Classical Shade Guide is B1, followed by A1. Super-white (bleached) shades are ranked on a separate scale. The whitest bleached shades for veneers are OM1, OM2, and OM3.
3. Porcelain Veneers Are Translucent
While a dental veneer covers your natural tooth, modern veneers are made to be partially translucent—letting some light through—to mimic the look of your natural teeth. As a result, you could see a change in color if the tooth underneath becomes heavily discolored. To prevent this from happening, we recommend getting any root canals done first and waiting to see what happens before having veneers placed on those teeth.
4. Porcelain Veneers Can Only Be Affixed to Healthy Teeth
For best results, porcelain veneers really need to be placed on healthy teeth rather than teeth with cavities. Deep decay or gum disease can compromise the veneer and cause it to fail, which is why we assess patients' suitability for each porcelain veneer procedure before going ahead. If you do have minor decay or gingivitis (mild gum disease), your dentist will treat those issues first before going ahead with veneers.
5. Your Dentist May Recommend Other Treatments before Veneers
People often choose to get veneers to hide slightly discolored or crooked teeth or a gap between their two front teeth. In many cases, it could be worth trying another treatment like Invisalign or laser teeth whitening first to see if you're happy with the result. Sometimes, patients will still go ahead with the dental veneer procedure after Invisalign and teeth whitening while others are happy to stay as they are.
6. Some Enamel Is Removed To Make Space for the Veneer
For the most natural look, a small sliver of enamel does need to be removed from each tooth in order to place a porcelain veneer. When veneers are placed on top of the tooth without shaving any enamel off, it looks bulky and unnatural—certainly not the red-carpet result that most patients are after! However, if you compare the amount of enamel that's removed for veneers with the amount of tooth that's removed to place a crown, veneers are definitely the less invasive option of the two.
7. You May Feel Some Pain or Sensitivity after Veneer Placement
Because a thin outer layer of the tooth is removed—partially exposing the nerve endings underneath—it's normal to feel some sensitivity and pain for a few days after your porcelain veneers procedure. The good news is that this sensation is temporary. In time, your veneered teeth will feel so normal that you might even forget you have veneers!
8. You'll Look after Your Porcelain Veneers Much Like You Look after Your Natural Teeth
Porcelain veneers protect the front surface of your teeth but they don't cover the whole tooth. To keep your teeth healthy, you still need to floss once a day, brush twice a day, use mouthwash once a day, and go for dental cleanings every six months. In addition, it's a good idea to use a night guard if you grind your teeth and a mouth guard if you play sports. These guards help to prevent your porcelain veneers from chipping—protecting your investment.
9. Porcelain Veneers Will Eventually Have to Be Replaced
While they last for a long time, porcelain veneers will eventually need to be replaced with a new set of veneers. Gums can recede, veneers can become dislodged, and the tooth underneath may have developed decay, making it necessary to redo the veneers for a better fit. The good news is that, with the proper care, veneers should last anywhere from 10 to 15 years. In some cases, veneers have even been known to last as long as 20 years.
10. It's Important to Have an Experienced Cosmetic Dentist Place Your Veneers
Finally—and this is perhaps the most important piece of advice—it's essential to have your veneers placed by a cosmetic dentist who is very experienced and has hundreds of positive reviews for his or her work. Just because someone says they place porcelain veneers doesn't mean they've been specially trained or that the result will be in line with your expectations. Creating natural-looking veneers is an art. And when you're covering the porcelain veneers cost out of pocket (most insurers won't cover veneers because it's considered a purely cosmetic procedure), you want to be sure that you'll love the result!
When Done Right, Cosmetic Porcelain Veneers Can Change Your Life
According to research by The Insight Partners, the global veneers industry was worth $1.55 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $2.30 billion by 2028, showing just how popular this treatment is. Some of our own patients have even found that getting veneers has made such a difference to their smile and their confidence that they've been able to progress in their careers!
When deciding whether or not cosmetic porcelain veneers are right for you, consider the range of treatments available, find out what your insurance policy will cover, and go for an evaluation with an experienced cosmetic dentist. Soon, you could be on your way to having the smile of your dreams!