How Many Veneers Do I Need? | What Veneers Process

Veneer Teeth

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What are veneers?

Have you ever looked at a movie star and wondered how they kept their teeth so white and shiny? Sure, maybe it’s simply a sign of good oral hygiene and a few whitening treatments - or maybe it’s thanks to a set of beautiful veneer teeth. Veneers are a popular option among A-list celebrities like Cardi B, Emma Watson, Miley Cyrus, and so many more since they're a quick way to get beautiful, straight, white teeth¹. But you don’t have to be a celebrity to have perfect teeth. Cosmetic dentistry procedures such as veneers can help you transform misaligned or heavily stained teeth into a gorgeous, star-studded smile.

So first of all, what are veneers? Veneers are thin, custom-shaped shells designed to cover the front side of teeth². Crafted from tooth-colored materials and meant to help improve the appearance of a person’s smile, veneers are an option for correcting stained, chipped, decayed, or crooked teeth³. Veneers are typically made by a dental technician in a lab, working from a model of your original teeth provided by your dentist.

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Because the main purpose of veneers is to help improve the appearance of teeth, veneers are generally considered an elective cosmetic dental treatment. However, veneers also have restorative functions. They can both help restore the natural look of teeth and help protect the tooth’s surface from future damage.

Getting veneers can be an expensive procedure, and as a cosmetic dentistry procedure, it typically is not covered by dental insurance. But for many people, the results are well worth it. They remain a rather popular treatment, making up about 26 percent of cosmetic procedures performed by dentists⁴.

Still, veneers aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. There are different factors to consider, such as if you’re a good candidate for veneers based on your medical history, your budget, and your desired outcomes. Your dentist can help you decide whether you ought to consider getting veneers.

Veneer Process

The process of placing veneers is a relatively straightforward process that typically requires 1-2+ dental visits.

There are two main types of veneers: porcelain veneers and composite-resin veneers⁵. Porcelain is the most common material for veneers since it is tooth-colored, custom, stain-resistant, and long-lasting⁶. Composite-resin veneers are typically less expensive than porcelain veneers, made of the same material used for tooth-colored cavity fillings, but they typically do not last as long⁷.

Veneer placement may vary slightly depending on the veneer materials chosen, but here’s a general overview of how veneers are placed on teeth⁸:

  1. Tooth shaping – For traditional veneer placement, the teeth must first be shaped. Your dentist will remove some enamel from the front and sides of your teeth to make room for the veneer to fit on top of the original healthy tooth.

  2. Molding – Next, your dentist will create a mold of the prepared tooth structure so your veneer will fit perfectly on top of it.

  3. Veneer selection – You and your dentist will discuss how you would like the final result to look to settle on a veneer shade that matches the rest of your smile and keeps your veneer or veneers looking beautiful and natural. You may also discuss the size and shape of your veneers.

  4. Veneer creation – Your dentist will send the tooth impression off to a dental lab so your veneers are custom-made to fit perfectly. Some dental offices may produce composite veneers quickly in-office, allowing for a same-day treatment option. However, if the veneers must be sent to an offsite lab, this step can take several weeks. In the meantime, your dentist will typically cover your teeth with temporary veneers to protect your prepared teeth and keep your smile looking natural.

  5. Permanent veneer placement – At your next visit, your dentist will remove your temporary veneers, clean your teeth, and place the permanent veneers on your prepared teeth to confirm the fit and appearance. If all looks good, they’ll bond the veneer to your teeth to transform your smile!

Placing veneers is typically an irreversible process because it’s necessary to remove some of the original enamel from your tooth in order to accommodate the shell⁹.

However, removable or non-permanent veneers are also available. They are typically a less invasive, lower-cost type of veneer that can be removed at any time. They are designed to snap onto the original tooth. They do not require tooth reduction, but they can be uncomfortable, require more frequent replacement, and typically do not blend in as well with the rest of your teeth as permanent veneers do.

Lumineer® veneers have also started to gain popularity. Lumineer® are a brand of veneers that are translucent and extremely thin – so thin, in fact, that they do not require tooth reduction¹⁰. If kept intact, they can last a very long time, though they run a higher risk of chipping than traditional veneers. If you’re nervous about the tooth reduction process, ask your dentist about removable veneers or Lumineer®.

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Veneer definition and meaning

If you’ve ever redone the wood flooring of your home, you may have heard the word veneer used in another setting. The word veneer means a thin sheet of a material¹¹. When referring to siding or flooring, it may mean a layer of wood of superior value that is affixed to an inferior wood. In dentistry, the concept is similar. A veneer is a porcelain or resin coating bonded to the surface of a cosmetically imperfect tooth, to improve its appearance.

Dental veneers are commonly confused with other popular treatments, such as bonding, crowns, and whitening. While veneers can serve a similar purpose as other restorative or cosmetic procedures, it is a unique process of its own.

Veneers vs. Crowns

Veneers and crowns both serve to help restore teeth that may be damaged or unsightly, but they have a few key differences. The main difference between veneers and crowns is that crowns cover the entire tooth, while veneers typically cover only the front portion of a tooth¹².

Veneers are typically recommended for people who are looking to make a cosmetic change. They are used for front teeth, not back teeth. Crowns, on the other hand, can work for both front and back teeth¹³. They typically are a good choice for people who need a more supportive way of restoring a compromised tooth.

Veneers vs. Bonding

Dental bonding is a cosmetic dental procedure where resin is applied directly on the surface of a prepared tooth, then polished and shaped to complete the desired look¹⁴. It’s a popular procedure for minor imperfections, such as small chips or gaps¹⁵. While bonding is typically less expensive and a simpler procedure, it is not as permanent as veneers and it may not be a good solution for larger cosmetic issues.

Veneers vs. Whitening

Teeth whitening is a common cosmetic dentistry treatment that involves the application of a bleaching agent to whiten the natural teeth¹⁶. Teeth whitening can be performed by a dentist or with over-the-counter tooth whitening options. Whitening can achieve immediate results, though it typically requires multiple treatments over time. It also typically more affordable than veneers. If your primary goal is to have a whiter smile, both teeth whitening and veneers can help you achieve that. If you’re also interested in straightening your smile or fixing chips or gaps, veneers may be a better route.

Teeth Before Veneers

Some get veneers for entirely cosmetic purposes, to gain a whiter or straighter smile. Others get veneers for oral health reasons or to correct more serious cosmetic problems. A few common reasons people may get dental veneers include¹⁷:

  • Unattractive length, color, or size of teeth

  • Chipped, cracked, or broken teeth caused by injury

  • Teeth are worn down by excessive teeth grinding

  • Misaligned, irregularly shaped, or uneven teeth

  • Teeth stains caused by prescription drugs, coffee, wine, or other dark foods

  • Large fillings resulting in discolored teeth

Wondering how many veneers you need? It’s important to note that you don’t have to get veneers on every tooth. You can get veneers on one or all of your teeth if you’d like. If you’re concerned about the cost of veneers, consider getting veneers on only the most stained teeth, or all teeth visible when you smile. Talk to your dentist to figure out how many veneers you need for the best result.

How to notice bad veneers: before and after

Veneers are meant to look natural and beautiful. So as a rule, if you can tell they’re fake, if they don’t look good, or if they feel uncomfortable - they may not be very good veneers!

Here are a few telltale signs of poor quality veneers:

  • Bulky veneers, resulting in swollen gums

  • Fake-looking veneers, lacking surface texture and translucence

  • Uncomfortable veneers, resulting in extreme tooth sensitivity, tooth damage, or jaw pain

If you notice any major discomfort or you’re dissatisfied with how your veneers look, contact your dentist for treatment options and to review the fit of your veneers.

Before you get veneers, be sure you’re aware of their typical lifespan. Even permanent veneers don’t last forever – after a few years, they’ll need to be replaced. With proper maintenance, porcelain veneers last 10 to 15 years, composite-resin veneers last five to seven years, and Lumineer® veneers last up to 20 years¹⁸. If it’s been a few years and your dental veneers are chipped, cracked, or worn down, that may not be a sign of bad veneers but rather that it’s just time to get them replaced.

Should I get veneers & related insights

Veneers can be expensive and they are typically primarily a cosmetic decision. If you have the budget to pay for veneers out-of-pocket and you like the look of veneers, they’re certainly worth considering – if you’re mostly satisfied with your smile in its current state, you may want to save your money for something else.

Work with your dentist to decide whether dental veneers are the best solution for the cosmetic issue that’s bothering you. If veneers aren’t right for you, other cosmetic dentistry options such as professional teeth whitening or adult braces could help fix the cosmetic issues you’re looking to solve.

Lumineers® is a registered trademark of DenMat.

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  14. https://www.cns-dental.com/porcelain-veneers-vs-dental-bonding-know-the-pros-and-cons/, (2018), last accessed August 2021

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Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice.(exp.10/23)

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