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Porcelain Dental Veneers Guide: The Cost, Risks, Procedure

Dental veneers are the term used to describe thin shells which improve the appearance of natural teeth by fitting over their front. Porcelain veneers also help to protect natural teeth from getting damaged while also creating an appealing smile. The shells are the same color as the patient’s own teeth and they bond to them effectively changing their function, color, shape, length and size. This dental treatment is considered to be a cosmetic procedure due to its elective and aesthetic nature. Porcelain dental veneers are sometimes referred to by the name “smile makeover” and they make up around 26% of all dentist-performed cosmetic procedures.

All You Need to Know About Dental Veneer Shades & Colors

The majority of patients opting to have veneers fitted are choosing them to make improvements to their appearance. However, they also offer some restorative functions since they can help to protect the surface of the teeth from getting damaged. If patients have stained teeth, chips, or gaps, they represent an ideal option.

It is fairly quick to get veneers fitted and the procedure itself is minimally invasive. The shells come in a variety of shades so you can usually find ones that match your desired outcome and existing natural tooth color.

Why Should I Get Veneers?

Some patients seek treatment to improve their smile for cosmetic purposes while others want veneers for restorative purposes. Yet, there are a number of reasons why veneers are the most popular choice when compared with other procedures.

Patients choose to have veneers fitted because they:

  • Dislike the color, size or length of their own natural teeth.
  • They have broken, cracked or chipped teeth, often due to an injury.
  • They have teeth that have been worn down because of erosion, teeth grinding or other lifestyle habits.
  • They have consumed too much water with an excessively high fluoride content which is known to cause streaks and white spots on the surface of the teeth.
  • They have experienced discoloration and staining on their teeth from tetracycline (an antibiotic) or drug use, or from consuming too much coffee, fruit, wine or other dark-colored liquids and foods.
  • They had large fillings made from resin fitted which have caused their teeth to become discolored.

Following root canal treatment, dentists often place a crown on top of the tooth so it won’t fracture. Sometimes, this type of treatment leads to discoloration of the affected tooth over time. In such cases, veneers can be placed over the tooth so the discoloration is covered. It’s possible to place veneers on premolars however they’re rarely fitted onto first molars.

What Are The Different Dental Veneers Types?

There are 2 types of dental veneers which are commonly used. These include:

Veneers Made From Porcelain

These are the most commonly seen type. They’re versatile, custom-made and the same color as natural teeth. They’re also long-lasting, with a lifespan of up to fifteen years. Made from ceramic material, porcelain veneers resist stains far better than the alternative – composite veneers.

At the time of porcelain veneers being introduced, their main advantage was how minimally invasive and conservative the procedure was. Only a minimal amount of preparation is required to successfully place veneer shells over the teeth and this certainly can’t be said for dental crowns and other fully restorative procedures.

Procedure for Getting Porcelain Veneers

Before the placement of porcelain veneers, dentists color correct the tooth’s remaining healthy structure, shaping it by around ½ mm or perhaps more. Afterwards, the natural teeth are replaced with the porcelain shell and bonding agent. When the existing tooth has extremely dark discoloration, opaques are sometimes used. More than fifteen different porcelain shades are available for patients to pick from.

Veneers Made From Composite Materials

A composite resin veneer represents the main alternative to the traditional porcelain veneer. Made from the material which is typically used for creating cavity fillings with the same color as natural teeth, the cost of dental veneers made from composite materials is a little cheaper. The fabrication process is also fairly quick, making them a same-day option for treatment. Composite bonding or direct composite dental veneers are sculpted onto the teeth instead of being created in a lab.

Like porcelain veneers, a composite veneer will require recontouring of the teeth before placement. It’s also possible to directly place composite veneers onto uncut enamel. Usually, they last for around 5 – 7 years – far less than the length of time that porcelain veneers last for. On the upside, though, composite veneers are a more conservative option than porcelain. If composite gets chipped, for example, it’s possible to repair the damaged area but if porcelain veneers get chipped the whole veneer must be replaced.

Palatal Onlays

Typically, onlays are used for restoring the posterior teeth but a palatal onlay or veneer is a special kind of onlay which is used for restoring the anterior teeth. There are several reasons why palatal damage may occur to the anterior teeth including dental erosion (often due to chronic vomiting, bulimia or acid reflux), bruxism (teeth grinding) or a deep bite. A palatal onlay represents an excellent solution when only part of the tooth has been compromised since it can restore just this affected area, leaving the remainder of the patient’s teeth completely untouched.


These are a specific veneer brand which are translucent and extremely thin (measuring just 0.2mm). They are able to effectively replicate both the color and shape of the tooth’s natural enamel and are even more effective at this than a porcelain veneer.

Even better, the extreme thinness of Lumineers means that no tooth recontouring or reduction is necessary. Their lifespan is more than 20 years which is even longer than that of porcelain veneers. While they’re convenient, though, they’re more likely to chip or be damaged than the more traditional veneers and this can reduce their lifespan.

Non-Permanent And Removable Veneers

Sometimes known as snap-on veneers, removable veneers aren’t permanently fitted into the mouth. This makes them far less invasive and these dental veneers cost far less than a traditional porcelain veneer. Lower and upper teeth molds are taken from the patient and the resulting veneers are able to removed whenever the patient chooses.

Despite the fact that porcelain and composite veneers are known to last for a long time, there’s no guarantee that they will in fact survive so long. Also, permanent veneers cannot be reversed since the dentist must remove some of the enamel from the tooth’s surface. Removable veneers, on the other hand, require no tooth reduction.

Are There Any Risks Or Side-Effects Linked With Veneers?

If you want to improve your smile in a quick, safe and effective way, traditional composite or porcelain veneers could be right for you. Risks come with all types of dental procedure but they aren’t life-threatening and if you take care, you can avoid them.

Some common side effects and risks associated with veneers include:

Sensitivity of the teeth – this is most common in the first three weeks following placement of the veneers. Should sensitivity to hot or cold liquids last for over 3-6 months, it’s possible that there may be a more severe problem present such as inflammation of the tooth’s nerve which has caused an infection. Your dentist can offer treatment if this is the case.

Damage to the teeth – dentin may be damaged during the placement procedure but it’s not common. When enamel is removed from the teeth, the dentin which lies beneath it may be damaged. Also, if veneers are fitted poorly, the patient’s bite may have its alignment changed and this can cause sensitivity, jaw pain or bruxism.

Future replacements – people who have an untreated dental condition before their veneer is placed, for example, erosion of the enamel, will have a greater risk of their veneer failing. Alternative types of restoration like cosmetic bonding or crowns are recommended most frequently by dentists for the replacement of veneers.

How Much Does A Veneer Cost?

How much you can expect to pay for your veneers will depend both on which type you choose and the number of veneers you require. Prices range from

$925-$2500 for a single porcelain veneer

$250-$1500 for a single composite veneer
$470-$600 for removable veneer impressions of both the lower and upper teeth
$800-$2000 for a single lumineer
$650-$1200 for a single palatal onlay

Should I Have Dental Veneers Or Another Dental Treatment?

Dental Crowns

Veneers bond onto the tooth’s front surface and they are thinner and less invasive although more brittle when compared with crowns. This makes them more likely to become dislodged or fractured. They do improve the appearance of the patient by changing their tooth’s color and shape, though. On the other hand, crowns cover a whole tooth and are thicker than veneers. While this means more enamel has to be removed before their placement they’re much stronger and can be used to restore broken or very decayed teeth.

Teeth Whitening

A veneer is a long-lasting restoration but teeth whitening, whether done professionally or at home is only temporary. As everybody eats differently and has different habits and lifestyles, the length of time whitening can last cannot be predicted. Veneers, conversely, last for 5-15 years and porcelain veneers will resist stains from coffee, smoking and wine. Teeth whitening is less invasive and more affordable than veneers and both procedures are very safe. Veneers are permanently fitted, though and aren’t able to be removed.

Orthodontic Treatments

If a patient has a large gap in between teeth or they have overcrowded teeth, veneers are able to resolve the problem in just a few visits to the dentist’s office. Orthodontic treatments like clear aligners and braces can take as long as 18 months in order to be fully completed. Also multiple visits to the dentist are needed for regular check-ups during the treatment time.

Although orthodontic treatments take longer, they’re often the patient’s best option, especially in the case of children. Braces can reposition the patient’s jaw, fix their bite and fix other issues with the jaws. Veneers, meanwhile, are generally only used for a cosmetic purpose. Braces are also more affordable than veneers with veneers costing around $1000 for a single tooth and the average person getting between 6 and 8 veneers. An Invisalign treatment will only cost between $3500 and $6000 and this means treatment is more affordable than a complete veneers set.

Will My Insurance Cover My Veneers?

As veneers are considered to be a cosmetic dentistry procedure they won’t be covered by your insurance unless the veneer is required due to injury.

Are All Veneers Permanent?

Most kinds of veneer are permanent. For both porcelain and composite veneers, the dentist must shave away a little of the tooth’s natural structure. On the other hand, Lumineers aren’t permanent since no tooth recontouring or reduction is required due to their thinness. They are, though, more likely to chip or fracture.

Is A Veneer Safe?

So long as a patient cares properly for their veneers they are completely safe and won’t damage the teeth. It’s rare for a veneer to break or crack.

Will Veneers Hurt?

It’s rare for a veneer to cause any discomfort or pain once the procedure has been completed as it is a minimally-invasive procedure only requiring a little tooth enamel to be removed.

Can Veneers Get Stained?

Like natural teeth, it’s possible for some kinds of veneer to get stained over time. Most veneers, though, are made from materials that resist stains well so if they are properly cared for they’ll remain white for a long time.

How Long Will My Veneers Last?

Two factors come into play when determining the length of time veneers can last. Once they’ve been placed, they must be cared for in the same way as natural teeth. That means practicing good oral health with regular flossing and brushing as well as regular dentist visits for cleaning every 6 months.



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