How Do Veneers Work

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How Do Veneers Work
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Many readers are interested in the following topic: What Are Veneers. We are happy to note, that our authors have already studied the modern research about the topic you are interested in. Based on the information provided in the latest medical digests, modern research and surveys, we provide extensive answer. Keep reading to find out more.

According to Dr. Nandita Lilly, one of NewMouth’s in-house dentists, “dental veneers are an excellent way to mask discolored, crooked, or damaged teeth. But it’s important to consider the advantages and disadvantages before getting them.”

Everything You Need to Know Before Getting Veneers

Laura Dorwart is a health journalist with expertise in disability rights, mental health, and pregnancy-related conditions. She has written for publications like SELF, The New York Times, VICE, and The Guardian.

Published on March 22, 2022

Edmund Khoo, DDS, is board-certified in orthodontics and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics.

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Veneers are thin coverings applied to the outer surface of the teeth to improve their appearance. Many people opt for veneers to address a range of cosmetic dental issues, such as gaps, chips, cracks, stains, unevenness, discoloration, and misalignment.

You may choose to get veneers on just one or two teeth or several more—typically the top front row of teeth, as they are most visible.

This article discusses veneers, including types, cost, durability, and what to expect from the procedure.

Selecting dental veneer color

Types of Veneers

Veneers may be made from porcelain or a resin-based composite material. Each type of veneer comes with benefits and drawbacks.

Porcelain Veneers

Porcelain veneers are custom-made, thin shells attached to the front of your teeth. Porcelain veneers are less invasive than crowns (a replacement for the visible portion of the tooth) or implants (an artificial tooth attached to the jaw) as a means of improving the aesthetics of your teeth.

They are durable, natural-looking, sturdy, stain-resistant, and long-lasting coverings.

Resin-Based Composite Veneers

Resin-based composite veneers are attached to the front of your teeth with a tooth-colored bonding agent.

Compared to porcelain veneers, composite veneers don’t require as much reshaping of the tooth. The procedure may be completed in a single visit to the dentist in some cases. They are also usually less expensive and easier to fix.

However, composite veneers aren’t as sturdy or long lasting as porcelain veneers. They’re also easier to stain over time. They may not be as effective in treating more severe cosmetic dental issues either.

How Much Do Veneers Cost?

According to the American Dental Association, veneers typically cost between $925 and $2,000 per tooth.

The cost of veneers also varies according to your location, the cosmetic dentist you select, the number of teeth you choose to treat, and the number of visits it takes to complete your procedure. Dental insurance generally does not cover veneers or any other cosmetic dentistry.

How Long Do Veneers Last?

Typically, porcelain veneers last around 10 to 15 years. However, with excellent aftercare and maintenance, they may last 20 years or more. In one study, 91% of patients with porcelain veneers still had them after 20 years.

Composite veneers are not quite as durable. They last around five to seven years on average.

After your veneers begin to show signs of wear and tear, such as detaching from the bonding agent, you may have to schedule a replacement procedure.

Veneer Restoration

Over time, veneers may chip, fracture, crack, separate from the tooth, or become discolored. In one study, however, over 82% of patients were happy with the results of their restoration procedures after experiencing problems with their original veneers.

How Do Veneers Work?

To prepare you for porcelain veneers, your dentist will typically start by removing a small amount of enamel (the outer covering of the tooth) from the front and/or sides of your natural teeth. Tooth reshaping allows your veneers to fit more comfortably and achieve a more natural-looking appearance in your mouth.

After your enamel reduction, your dentist will create a mold of your teeth. The mold will be sent off to a dental lab to create a custom set of veneers that can then be fitted, bonded, polished, and adjusted.

Because some of your natural tooth material will have to be removed, veneers are typically irreversible.

No-Prep Veneers

Some no-preparation and minimal-preparation porcelain veneers are paper-thin and don’t require as much (or any) tooth reshaping. However, not everyone is a candidate for these newer procedures. Your tooth enamel must already be in great shape for this option.

Procedure

Before getting veneers, you should practice good oral hygiene and ensure your teeth are ready for the procedure. Your dentist should treat any underlying gum or dental concerns before you proceed.

Getting porcelain veneers usually takes two to three visits over six weeks. The steps typically include:

  • Consultation: You will discuss your dental concerns with your dental care provider and select your preferred tooth color and shape at your consultation. Your visit will also likely include a thorough dental examination and X-ray imaging.
  • Tooth preparation and molding: At your next visit, your dentist will use a local anesthetic (using agents that numb and prevent pain in the area being worked on) and/or sedation (using agents that relax your entire body) while they reshape your teeth, remove a small amount of enamel, and make a mold of your teeth to send off to a dental lab. You might be given temporary veneers to wear until your next visit.
  • Placement and adjustment: At your third visit, your dentist will bond your new veneers to your natural teeth. They will finish up by polishing and adjusting them as necessary. You may have to return for follow-up appointments to ensure that your veneers are placed correctly.

The process for resin-based composite veneers is often shorter and less complex than with porcelain. After your teeth are prepared, your dentist will shape and harden the composite material and bond it to your teeth.

If your dentist uses in-office computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology to create the composite material, you may even be able to complete the procedure in a single visit.

Aftercare

Taking care of your veneers is key to maintaining their appearance over time.

Soon after your procedure, your dentist may recommend that you temporarily stop drinking red wine or coffee to avoid stains. It’s also best to avoid extremely hot or cold foods and beverages, as your teeth may be sensitive at first.

Here are some other veneer aftercare tips to make sure that you get the long-term cosmetic results you want:

  • Brush and floss regularly to avoid getting cavities under your veneers.
  • Wear a mouth guard to avoid grinding your teeth (bruxism), which can wear away your veneers over time.
  • Tell your dentist if you feel that your veneers are starting to decay or separate from your natural tooth.
  • See your dentist for regular cleanings and follow-up appointments.
  • Avoid chewing on items that may damage your veneers, such as hard candy, pencils, pens, or ice.

Do I Need Veneers?

Not everyone is a good candidate for veneers. Talk to your dentist before getting veneers if you:

  • Have any underlying health issues, especially with your teeth or gums
  • Have any missing teeth
  • Frequently grind or clench your teeth

Because veneers are usually irreversible, you may want to try less-invasive options first. Orthodontic treatments (such as Invisalign or braces) or teeth-whitening procedures might address your cosmetic dental concerns.

Summary

Veneers are thin coverings applied to the outer surface of the teeth to improve their appearance. People get veneers to address aesthetic dental issues such as discoloration, gaps, stains, cracks, and chips.

Porcelain veneers are custom-made to fit the front of the teeth. They typically last around 10 to 15 years. Resin-based composite veneers are attached to the front of the teeth with adhesive. They usually last about five to seven years. Veneers typically cost up to $2,000 per tooth.

The process of getting porcelain veneers usually takes around six weeks. A dentist will typically start by removing a small amount of tooth enamel and creating a mold of the teeth before placing, polishing, and adjusting the custom-made veneers. Resin-based composite veneers may be applied in one to two visits.

After getting veneers, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing every day and scheduling regular cleanings. People who grind their teeth frequently or have missing teeth may not be good candidates for veneers.

A Word From Verywell

If you’re unhappy with the appearance of your teeth, talk to your dentist about what options are best for you considering your oral health history. You may or may not be a good candidate for veneers, but there may be other procedures that they recommend.

Because cosmetic dentistry is usually not covered by dental insurance, you should consider the cost of a procedure, including how often you will need to have the procedure repeated.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are veneers permanent?

Veneers are not permanent, but they last a long time. On average, porcelain veneers need to be replaced after about 10 years (although they may last longer). Resin-based composite veneers last around five to seven years.

Can veneers fall off?

Veneers can fall off or get damaged over time. In some cases, veneers may start to separate from your teeth when the bonding material breaks down. Veneers may also fall off due to tooth decay, teeth grinding, or problems with your gums.

Are you supposed to brush veneers?

It’s important to practice good oral hygiene and brush your veneers regularly to prevent tooth decay. While the veneers themselves can’t decay, the natural teeth underneath them can. You should brush and floss regularly and consider using mouthwash.

12 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. American Dental Association. Veneers.
  2. Alothman Y, Bamasoud MS. The success of dental veneers according to preparation design and material type. Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2018;6(12):2402-2408. doi:10.3889/oamjms.2018.353
  3. American Dental Association Patient Smart Patient Education Center. Dental veneers.
  4. Pini NP, Aguiar FH, Lima DA, Lovadino JR, Terada RS, Pascotto RC. Advances in dental veneers: materials, applications, and techniques. Clin Cosmet Investig Dent. 2012;4:9-16. doi:10.2147/CCIDEN.S7837
  5. ADA Marketplace. Veneers vs. dentures: Which one is right for you?.
  6. AlJazairy YH. Survival rates for porcelain laminate veneers: A systematic review. Eur J Dent. 2021;15(2):360-368. doi:10.1055/s-0040-1715914
  7. Dente Complete Dentistry. Porcelain vs. ceramic veneers.
  8. Alhekeir DF, Al-Sarhan RA, Al Mashaan AF. Porcelain laminate veneers: Clinical survey for evaluation of failure. Saudi Dent J. 2014;26(2):63-67. doi:10.1016/j.sdentj.2014.02.003
  9. Ravinthar K, Jayalakshmi. Recent advancements in laminates and veneers in dentistry. Research J Pharm Tech. 2018;11(2):785-787. doi:10.5958/0974-360x.2018.00148.8
  10. Consumer Guide to Dentistry. Porcelain veneers – procedure costs & recovery.
  11. David M. Fisher, Jr. DDS. Do you still need to brush and floss your porcelain veneers?.
  12. Coomera Dental Centre. What to do if you damage your veneers or they fall out?.

By Laura Dorwart
Laura Dorwart is a health journalist with particular interests in mental health, pregnancy-related conditions, and disability rights. She has published work in VICE, SELF, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Week, HuffPost, BuzzFeed Reader, Catapult, Pacific Standard, Health.com, Insider, Forbes.com, TalkPoverty, and many other outlets.

What Are Veneers?

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In this article

What are Dental Veneers & How Do They Work?

Veneers are custom-made shells that fit over teeth to improve their appearance and create a beautiful smile. Because of this, they are sometimes known as a “smile makeover.”

While veneers can change a tooth’s length, size, color, shape, and function, they’re ultimately considered cosmetic dental procedures. They’re elective rather than medically necessary.

Veneers 2

According to Dr. Nandita Lilly, one of NewMouth’s in-house dentists, “dental veneers are an excellent way to mask discolored, crooked, or damaged teeth. But it’s important to consider the advantages and disadvantages before getting them.”

Most patients opt for veneers to improve their appearance, but they can also change the bite and help with function. They are a great option for patients who have tooth gaps, chips, or deep stains.

Veneers are most commonly placed over front teeth rather than back molars. The procedure is relatively quick and only requires limited enamel removal. Veneers are available in many shades, depending on your tooth color and desired outcome.

5 Types of Veneers

Most types of veneers are permanent, so they cannot be removed after placement. If you have cavities or gum disease, seek restorative dental treatment rather than veneers.

Common types of veneers include:

veneer NewMouth

1. Porcelain Veneers

Porcelain is the most common material used for veneers. Porcelain veneers are tooth-colored, versatile, completely custom, and can last 10 to 15 years. They are made of ceramic materials and resist stains better than composite veneers.

Another advantage of porcelain veneers is that they are relatively conservative and minimally invasive (when compared to alternatives such as crowns).

They are also biocompatible, which means the gum tissue and other soft tissues of the mouth usually are not negatively affected by them.

Procedure

Minimal preparation of the teeth is needed for successful veneer placement. This is not the case for full restorative procedures like dental crowns. However, like crowns, the procedure for veneer placement is irreversible.

To prepare a tooth for a porcelain veneer, a dentist will first select the tooth shade that best matches the neighboring teeth. Then they will reshape the tooth to accommodate the veneer and take an impression for a dental laboratory to make the veneer.

A temporary veneer may be placed during the first appointment. At the second appointment, the dentist will remove the temporary veneer. Then, the dentist will clean the underlying tooth and etch it with an acidic material to roughen the tooth surface. This allows the veneer to bond to the tooth better.

The dentist will apply a special cement that allows the veneer to stay on the tooth. The cement is hardened with a blue light. The final step is removing excess cement from the tooth and checking the bite. A follow-up visit may be necessary after a few weeks to adjust the bite.

dental veneer NewMouth

2. Composite Veneers

Composite veneers are an alternative to porcelain veneers. They are made of composite resin, a mixture of inorganic and organic materials.

The bonding material used to make these veneers is the same as tooth-colored dental fillings. While strong, composite veneers are not as durable as porcelain. They can also stain more readily over time.

On the other hand, composite is also more conservative than porcelain. When composite chips, the chipped area can be repaired. When porcelain chips, the entire veneer must be replaced.

Procedure

Composite veneers only take one appointment (same-day option). They are sculpted directly onto the teeth rather than in a dental laboratory. Porcelain veneers require more than one appointment.

Like porcelain veneers, composite veneers require tooth recontouring before placement and can be placed directly on uncut enamel.

Composite veneers may cost just $300, whereas porcelain veneers cost upwards of $1,000. However, composite veneers typically last 5 to 7 years versus up to 15 years for porcelain veneers.

3. Palatal Veneers (Palatal Onlays)

Onlays are typically used to restore posterior (back) teeth. However, palatal veneers are a special onlay used to restore anterior (front) teeth. Causes of palatal damage to anterior teeth include deep bite, bruxism, and dental erosion.

Erosion can be caused by chronic vomiting and severe acid reflux. Palatal onlays are a great solution to restore only the compromised part of the tooth, leaving the rest untouched.

4. Lumineers

Lumineers are an ultra-thin (0.2 mm) and translucent brand of veneers. They replicate the shape and color of natural tooth enamel, even more so than traditional porcelain veneers.

Lumineers are so thin that they do not require tooth reduction or recontouring. They’re also reversible.

Although convenient, they have a greater chance of chipping than traditional veneers, which may shorten their lifespan. However, when taken care of, Lumineers may last as long or longer than traditional porcelain veneers.

5. Removable Veneers (Non-Permanent)

Removable veneers are less invasive, non-permanent, and cost less than traditional veneers.

Permanent veneers are irreversible because dentists must remove part of the tooth’s enamel. Removable veneers do not require tooth reduction.

However, while removable veneers are convenient, they do not look quite as natural as permanent veneers. They are also more prone to plaque build-up and may harm your gum tissue over time with frequent wear.

Dentists always recommend permanent veneers over temporary alternatives.

Instant vs. Custom-Made Removable Veneers

There are two removable veneers: instant veneers and custom-made clip-on veneers.

Instant veneers are cheap cosmetic teeth. You fit them into your mouth by placing them in hot water and pressing your teeth into the soft-fitting material. They are not recommended for daily use or as a long-term dental solution.

Custom snap-on veneers are high-quality removable veneers. A dentist takes impressions of your teeth. Then the impression is sent to a dental lab, and the dental lab technicians create a custom-fit set of veneers for you.

Why Do People Get Veneers?

Veneers make up about 26 percent of cosmetic procedures performed by dentists. There are a few reasons why dental veneers may be chosen over other procedures. These include:

  • To change the length, color, shape, and size of teeth
  • To fix chipped, cracked, or broken teeth (from injuries, nail-biting, etc.)
  • To fix white spots/streaks on teeth (typically caused by excessive fluoride use)
  • To cover up teeth stains and discoloration (from dark-colored foods, certain drugs, natural aging, etc.)

In cases of root canals, crowns or 3/4 crowns are recommended to protect the teeth from fracture. Veneers for anterior root canal-treated teeth are not routinely performed. They are also rarely placed on premolars and never on molars.

How are Veneers Placed on Teeth?

In general, veneer placement consists of the following steps:

  1. You and your dentist will decide on a veneer shade that best matches your smile, so the veneer looks natural.
  2. Your dentist will remove some enamel from the front and sides of your teeth to make room for the veneer. The dentist will skip this step if you are getting lumineers or temporary veneers.
  3. Your dentist then makes an impression (a mold) of the prepared tooth structure.
  4. Your dentist will send the tooth impression to a dental lab that custom-makes the veneer to fit just right. This step can take several weeks, and your dentist may cover the teeth with temporary veneers to wear in the meantime.
  5. At your next visit, your dentist will remove the temporary veneers and place the permanent veneers on your teeth to confirm the proper fit and appearance. Your dentist will also clean your teeth before bonding the veneer.

Side Effects & Risks of Veneers

Traditional veneers, such as porcelain and composite, are great options for those looking to improve their smile quickly, safely, and effectively.

As with any dental procedure, there are risks. The risks are not life-threatening, and they can be avoided with proper care. Common conditions and side effects of veneers may include:

Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is common during the first 3 weeks after veneer placement.

If sensitivity lasts longer than 3 months, there is an underlying issue. For example, a tooth’s nerve may have been irreversibly inflamed during the procedure. Contact your dentist for treatment options.

Tooth Damage

There is also a risk of dentin damage after veneer placement, but it is less common.

During the enamel removal process, the underlying dentin can get damaged. A poorly fitted veneer can also change the alignment of a patient’s bite, resulting in tooth sensitivity, bruxism, or jaw pain.

Future Veneer Replacement

People with untreated dental conditions before veneer placement, such as enamel erosion from acid reflux or eating disorders, are more at risk of veneer failure. Alternative restorations, including crowns or cosmetic bonding, may be recommended in the future to replace failed veneers.

How Much Do Veneers Cost?

The cost of veneers depends on the type and how many you get:

  • Porcelain veneers — $500-$2,500 (per tooth)
  • Composite veneers — $250-$1,500 (per tooth)
  • Removable veneers — $300 or more (per arch)
  • Lumineers — $700-$2,000 (per tooth)
  • Palatal onlays — $650-$1,200 (per tooth)

Insurance does not cover the cost of veneers because they are considered cosmetic (not medically necessary).

Veneers vs. Other Dental Treatments

How do veneers compare to other dental treatments?

Veneers vs. Dental Crowns

A veneer bonds to the front surface of a tooth. They are less invasive, thinner, and more brittle than crowns, which means they have a higher risk of fracture or dislodgement. They improve a patient’s appearance by changing the shape and color of teeth.

A crown covers the entire tooth. It is thicker than a veneer and requires more tooth structure removal before placement. Unlike veneers, crowns are used for restorative purposes, such as fixing severely decayed or broken teeth.

Veneers vs. Teeth Whitening

Veneers are long-lasting restorations, while at-home or professional teeth whitening is just a temporary treatment.

Since everyone has different diets, lifestyles, and habits, such as smoking, there is no way to predict how long whitening will last.

On the other hand, a veneer lasts between 5 and 15 years, depending on the type of veneer and how well you care for your teeth. Porcelain veneers resist staining from coffee, wine, and smoking.

Professional teeth whitening is a cheaper, less invasive option than veneers. Both veneers and whitening are safe, though both procedures may cause side effects. Veneers are permanent and cannot be removed after placement.

One reason people opt for teeth whitening is that there are a lot of affordable at-home teeth whitening options.

Veneers vs. Orthodontic Treatment

When patients have large gaps between their teeth or overcrowding, veneers resolve the issues within a few office visits.

Orthodontic treatment — such as braces or clear aligners — can take up to 18 months to fully complete, while aligners take about 20 weeks. You must also visit the office more often while receiving orthodontic treatment.

While orthodontic treatment takes longer, it is sometimes the best option for patients, especially children. This is because braces reposition the teeth and correct the bite without irreversible enamel removal. In contrast, veneers are typically placed for cosmetic reasons.

Braces are generally less expensive than dental veneers. Most veneers are at least $1,000 per tooth, and people typically get six to 12 veneers. Invisalign ranges from $3,500 to $6,000, so treatment is less expensive than a full set of veneers.

Direct-to-consumer clear aligners allow you to straighten your teeth at home. These clear aligners cost less than Invisalign and can provide similar levels of bite correction.

Veneers: Common Questions & Concerns

Does insurance cover veneers?

Since veneers are cosmetic, they are never covered by insurance. An exception may be if a veneer is needed because of an injury.

Are veneers permanent?

Yes, most types of veneers are permanent, including composite and porcelain veneers.

Before placement, your dentist has to shave down some of your natural tooth structure. Lumineers, however, do not require tooth reduction or recontouring because they are very thin. Lumineers are more prone to fractures and chips.

Are veneers safe?

As long as you take care of them, veneers are safe and not bad for your teeth. It is also rare for veneers to crack or break.

Do veneers hurt?

It is rare for veneers to cause pain and discomfort during and after the procedure is complete.

This is because the procedure is minimally invasive and only requires minor enamel removal.

Do veneers stain?

Just like natural teeth, some types of veneers can stain over time.

However, most veneers are made out of stain-resistant materials. So if you take care of them, they will stay white for many years. However, the natural tooth structure around veneers can stain.

How long do veneers last?

After they are placed, you should begin taking care of them like normal teeth. This includes practicing optimal oral health at home (brushing and flossing regularly) and visiting your dentist for teeth cleanings every 6 months. Your dentist may also suggest you wear a nightguard to protect your new veneers.

Can tooth enamel grow back?

No. Once your tooth enamel is removed, it cannot grow back. This is why veneers are considered permanent restorations.