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Dental veneers
Dr Cathryn Madden Reviewed by Dr Cathryn Madden, Dentist

Curious about veneers? We’ll take you through the different types of veneers and what to expect from the procedure itself.

If you want to change how your smile looks, veneers may be an alternative to treatments like braces or teeth whitening.

Dental veneers are thin shells of porcelain or composite resin that are bonded to the front of teeth to change their appearance. They’re a cosmetic option and are popular for the wide range of appearance-related issues they can help to address.

Who can get veneers?

Veneers are a cosmetic service that are appropriate for adults who want to make changes to their smiles. They usually aren’t a solution for more serious, functional issues. Your dentist will explain what the treatment involves and estimated costs so you can decide if they're right for you.

Veneers can be fitted over teeth to change the appearance of:

To be a candidate for veneers, you need to make sure you don’t have any outstanding dental health issues like severe gum disease or tooth decay. Your dentist will be able to advise whether you need any corrective treatments before getting veneers.

Veneers might not be suitable if you grind your teeth, since your risk of damaging the veneers could be higher.

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What are the different types of veneers?

Veneers are made of either porcelain (ceramic) or a composite resin of plastic and glass. Dentists can colour-match these materials to your natural tooth shade, or you can choose a lighter shade if you prefer a brighter-looking smile. Both types have their pros and cons.

Porcelain veneers

Pros

  • Porcelain veneers tend to be a more long-lasting type of veneer, potentially reducing the amount of times you need to replace them.
  • They may be less likely to stain or damage.

Cons

  • Porcelain veneers often cost more than composite ones.
  • You may need more appointments to fit your porcelain veneers, since they’re usually made off-site in a lab.
  • Your natural teeth may need more extensive reshaping to accommodate this type of veneer.

Composite veneers

Pros

  • Composite veneers can be a less expensive option than the porcelain variety. 
  • A dentist might be able to place them in fewer visits.

Cons

  • They’re not usually as durable as porcelain veneers, so you might need to replace them more often.
  • They may be more prone to staining.

The procedure: what to expect when you get veneers

If you choose to have dental veneers, your dentist may need to remove a small layer of your teeth where they’ll be placing the veneers. They might use local anaesthetic beforehand to try and make the procedure more comfortable.

Porcelain veneers can require 2 or more visits to the dental clinic. On your first visit, your dentist will likely take a mould of your teeth and use this to design your veneers. These are normally made at a dental laboratory, which can take 1- 2 weeks. In the meantime, the dentist is likely to fit you with temporary veneers to protect your teeth while you wait.

Once your porcelain veneers are ready, your dentist will check that they fit properly, make any minor adjustments needed and cement them in place.

Composite veneers might require fewer visits ⁠— sometimes only a single visit. Unlike porcelain veneers, this kind of veneer is built up directly on the teeth by applying the resin in layers. A dentist will sculpt and polish the veneers to look as close to natural teeth as possible.

Are veneers permanent?

Your teeth might be permanently altered, since most veneers require dentists to reshape parts of your teeth. But veneers themselves usually need to be replaced after a number of years.

Porcelain veneers do tend to last longer than composite veneers, so you should factor possible replacement frequency into your decision.

What to expect after getting veneers

Your teeth might feel more sensitive to hot and cold after they've been prepared for veneers. This usually goes away, but it can sometimes be permanent. You should talk to your dentist if you’re experiencing any other changes.

You need to clean and care for your veneers just like teeth without veneers. Regular brushing and flossing can help prevent problems like tooth decay and gum disease that can cause veneers to come loose.

You should avoid eating hard and crunchy foods, as these can damage veneers, especially if you have composite veneers. You should also avoid biting other hard objects, such as fingernails or ice cubes.

What are some alternatives to veneers?

If you’re trying to change stained or discoloured teeth, teeth whitening provided by a dentist or at home may be a less invasive option than veneers. But effects might not last as long as veneers, and teeth whitening isn’t a solution for all types of discolouration.

Dentists may be able to use bonding or a crown to help you address chipped or cracked teeth.

If you want to straighten crooked teeth or close gaps, orthodontic treatments using braces or clear aligners often take longer to complete than veneers, but there might be greater health benefits and more permanent results.

Speak with a professional about dental veneers

If you’re thinking about veneers or want to change something about your smile’s appearance, consider speaking with a dental professional. Find a dentist near you.

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The purpose of this article is to promote better understanding of dental health topics. It’s not meant to replace professional advice or diagnosis. Always talk to a dentist, doctor or other qualified healthcare professional if you have a question about dental or medical conditions.

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