We’ve all seen actors, musicians, and other celebrities on TV with picture-perfect white smiles. How did they get that way? Like the rest of us, celebrities were not born with perfect teeth; their shiny white smiles often come from porcelain veneers.
It might be tempting to want a similar smile for your own mouth, but veneers are not for everyone. Here are some of the pros and cons of veneers to consider as you weigh your options and try to decide if porcelain veneers are worth it:
What Are Veneers?
Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that are molded to fit your teeth then attach to the front of the tooth with the goal of improving its appearance. They can also be made of resin or other composite materials. Either way, the goal of a veneer is to change the size, color, and/or shape of your tooth. They are used most often on:
– Teeth that are discolored from root canals, fillings, or other procedures
– Chipped or broken teeth
– Irregularly shaped teeth
– Teeth with gaps between them
– Any other dental issue that results in a loss of self confidence
Veneers typically last 7-15 years before they need to be replaced.
Types of Veneers
If you and your dentist determine that veneers might be a good solution for you, there are several types to choose from:
Porcelain Veneers: These are the most expensive, but best looking type of veneers. They are custom made to fit the size and shade of your natural teeth. They are applied to the existing tooth using special cement and ultraviolet light.
Composite Veneers: These are similar to porcelain veneers, but made from the same material as some cavity fillings. Composite veneers are typically used to address minor chips in teeth or gaps between teeth. The composite material is less expensive than porcelain, but not quite as durable.
Instant Veneers: A quicker option, these veneers are premade and can typically be applied during the same appointment as the consultation for the broken or missing tooth. Instant Veneers are less expensive than porcelain veneers, but because they are premade can’t be matched exactly to your natural teeth.
Removable Veneers: These are the newest member of the vener family and are a hybrid between porcelain and instant veneers. They are custom made to match your teeth and can be removed as needed. This is the least expensive veneer option, but are not a long-term solution for broken or missing teeth and any underlying dental problems that caused them.
The Pros of Veneers
The most obvious benefit to veneers is the increased confidence that comes from having a more flawless smile. Veneers are also specifically molded for your teeth, making it nearly impossible to tell the difference between the veneer and your tooth.
The veneer is bonded to your tooth in whatever form it’s in, meaning no additional drilling or shaping is needed in most cases. No special maintenance is required — just brush and floss like you would normally.
Veneers can make any tooth appear bright white, but you can select any shade you want. You may choose to opt for something closer to your natural color so the change is not quite so obvious.
The Cons of Veneers
All of those pros make veneers sound pretty great, right? There are a few other things to consider before taking the plunge.
Veneers do not change color once they are made. While the rest of your teeth will naturally change over time, the veneer will not, which can lead to awkward differences in your smile. However, with regular visits to the dentist you can stay on top of this issue and ensure your smile stays consistent for as long as you have veneers.
Because porcelain is so delicate, veneers are also more prone to chipping and cracking than crowns or fillings. They are not recommended for people with habits like biting their nails, grinding their teeth, or chewing on ice. But, those habits are correctable and having a nicer smile may be worth it in the long run.
Finally, teeth can still decay while they are under a veneer, which can lead to root canals and crowns down the road. Veneers should not be used if you have a history of weakened enamel, gum disease, or other dental conditions. If this is the case with you, your dentist can recommend other treatment options to fix broken or missing teeth.
The Veneer Process
Now that you know some of the pros and cons of veneers, if you do decide to pursue veneers, the entire process can typically be completed at your dentist’s office. Your dentist will take X-rays and make impressions of the teeth that are receiving veneers.
Veneers are made in a laboratory and typically take 2-4 weeks to come in after your initial consultation. Temporary veneers can be added, if needed, while waiting for the permanent ones to come in.
In order to apply the veneer, about one millimeter of enamel will need to be removed from your teeth. This is far less than what’s removed for a filling or crown. The tooth will also be cleaned, polished, and etched to allow the veneer adhesive to bond properly.
The dentist will then apply a cement to the veneer and place it on your tooth. A special light is used to cure the cement quickly, creating a bond. From there, adjustments can be made as needed.
Most dentists will ask that you come back for a follow up appointment a week or two after the veneers are placed to check in on how they are settling in your mouth and determine whether any additional adjustments are needed.
Getting Started with Veneers
The first step toward veneers is to visit a licensed dentist for a consultation. The dentist will assess your teeth and determine whether veneers are a good option for you.