What are veneers?
Veneers are thin layers of material that cover the front of the teeth and are designed to improve their appearance. While veneers can improve your teeth’s appearance, poorly fitted veneers can cause jaw pain.
Veneers can be made either of porcelain (ceramic) or composite resin (of plastic and glass).
Porcelain veneers tend to look more realistic and last longer than resin veneers, but they are also more expensive.
Veneers are a permanent dental treatment, and their colour cannot be altered after they’ve been applied.
When might someone want veneers?
Veneers are generally used to improve the appearance of teeth rather than to repair damage.
You might choose to have veneers on your teeth if they are:
- discoloured or stained
- crooked, oddly shaped or chipped
- widely spaced and leave a gap
Veneers can only be applied if your teeth and gums are in good condition. They may not be suitable if you grind or clench your teeth because that can crack the veneer.
What happens during a dental veneers procedure?
Your dentist will first remove a thin layer of enamel from the tooth so that the veneer does not stick out. You might be given a local anaesthetic for this procedure. The dentist will then take an impression of the tooth. The mould is sent away to a lab where the veneer will be made.
In the meantime, your dentist can give you a temporary veneer.
During your second visit, the dentist will make sure the veneer fits well and that it looks good. The bonding cement is then set using a beam of light.
A composite resin veneer is completed in one visit. The dentist applies the material to the tooth in layers, each hardened using a beam of light. Finally, the tooth is shaped and polished. This can be uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t be painful.
What to expect after a dental veneers procedure
Your dentist may ask you to come back so they can check your gums and how the veneers are sitting.
You should treat your veneers in the same way you do your regular teeth by:
- practising good oral hygiene
- brushing and flossing daily
- avoiding biting hard or chewy food (or chewing your fingernails) because veneers can chip
Porcelain veneers usually last from 7 to 15 years before they need to be replaced. Composite resin veneers don’t last quite as long.
What are the benefits and risks of choosing veneers?
Using dental veneers is a fairly simple approach that can significantly improve the look of your teeth, if that’s what you want.
Risks are low, but include:
- jaw pain and misalignment of the bite
- the veneer cracking or falling off
- temperature sensitivity of the teeth (because some enamel is removed)
- gum shrinkage exposing the veneer margins
- the veneers remaining white as surrounding teeth discolour
How much do veneers cost?
Porcelain veneers cost from $700 to $2,000 per tooth, and resin veneers from $200 to $600 per tooth.
What are the alternatives to veneers?
An alternative to veneers is to live with your teeth just as they are. But if you want to make changes, options include:
- bonding using composite resin to repair a small section of a tooth
- a crown to cover a broken or decayed tooth
- bleaching to whiten your teeth
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Last reviewed: September 2020