Dental veneers are custom-crafted, tooth-colored shells that, when attached to the front surface of your teeth, can dramatically enhance their appearance. In most dental patients, dental veneers are used to treat cosmetic concerns surrounding cracks, chips, gaps, broken, or stained teeth. Made from resin-composite or porcelain, dental veneers are permanently bonded to your teeth, and can last upwards of 10 years with proper care. If you’re curious about dental veneers, understanding the process of getting them can help assuage any nerves and make for a smoother experience overall.
The 3 Types of Dental Veneers
When choosing your veneers, it’s important to know the differences between them so that you get what’s right for you. The main criteria you should be mindful of are the total cost, time, appearance, and upkeep, in addition to any specific recommendations from your dentist. The types of veneers you can choose from are as follows:
- Porcelain. Although they are the more expensive option, porcelain veneers last much longer than their resin counterparts. Not only is the porcelain stronger, but is also stain resistant and more visually appealing. However, multiple appointments will be required for proper application, as the veneers will need to be made in a lab, or if the facilities are available, on a 3D printer.
- Composite Resin. This type of dental veneer is shaped by hand right in the dental office, making it a much faster option than porcelain, as no impressions have to be taken and no laboratory is involved. As a result, composite-resin dental veneers can be done in a single appointment. The trade-off here is that resin doesn’t last quite as long, and is more prone to damage and staining.
- No-Prep. As the name suggests, these veneers are ready made ahead of time so that they can be applied quickly and less invasively. Unlike other veneers, no enamel is removed during the process, so no place-holders or anesthetics are needed.
The average cost of dental veneers ranges anywhere from $400-2,500/tooth and may fluctuate based on your area’s cost of living, the expertise of the dentist, and type of dental veneer you’re choosing to have done.
What The Dental Veneers Process Looks Like in 4 Steps
The dental veneer process is typically broken down into four main steps.
- Dental Consultation: The first step of the dental veneer process begins with a dental consultation, where one of our dentists will discuss what you’d like to achieve with dental veneers, and what your overall expectations are of the final result. After this conversation, there will be an oral examination to take a look at your teeth to see if there are any signs of gum disease, tooth decay, or the need for root canals, and x-rays will be taken to get a better look at your teeth underneath the gum line.If you have oral conditions present, then your next appointment will be based around treating these conditions, but if you don’t, then the next appointment will be for preparing your teeth for dental veneers.
- Tooth Preparation: After your consultation, we will prep your teeth for dental veneers by removing a thin layer of your teeth’s enamel to make room for the veneers. The dental veneers are about the thickness of a fingernail, so very little enamel is removed - just enough for the veneers to adhere to the teeth. During the enamel removal step, you’ll be given local anesthetic to keep you comfortable, and it will last anywhere from 30-60-minutes depending on how many teeth are being prepped.After the enamel is removed, impressions (a mold) is taken of the teeth using a dental putty (a thick paste) that is placed into a molding tray and inserted into the mouth. You’ll need to hold the molding tray in your mouth for a few minutes while the paste hardens and sets. Once it’s set, the tray will be removed and the dental mold will be sent off to the laboratory to make your custom-fitted veneers. The wait on this is 1-2 weeks, and in the meantime, you’ll be given temporary acrylic dental veneers.
- Dental Veneer Placement: Once your dental veneers are created and sent back from the lab, the next step in the process is to place them onto the front surface of your teeth. During this appointment, you’ll be given local anesthetic to keep the teeth being worked on, numb. This is necessary, as the teeth will need to be etched to create a rough texture so that the dental veneers bond correctly.Etching is done with a grinding tool or with phosphoric acid in liquid or gel form.
A thin layer of dental cement is applied to the back of the veneers, which are then pressed into place on the front surface of your teeth. Then a curing light (a special light that hardens the cement) is used to seal your veneers in place. After this, your dental veneer placement appointment will be complete!
- Dental Adjustments & A Follow-Up Visit: While dental veneers are custom-crafted to fit your teeth perfectly, some minor adjustments may be needed after they have been placed. Dental adjustments typically involve minor grinding or filing to achieve the desired results.After your veneers are adjusted, it’s important to keep up with regular dental visits to ensure that your veneers are staying in place, and that your teeth and gums are healthy. Dental veneers typically last anywhere from 5-15 years depending on your oral hygiene habits and changes in the structure of your teeth, so regular follow-up visits are a must to maintain your beautiful, confident smile!
How To Take Care of Your Dental Veneers?
After your dental veneers are placed, and you head on home, the recovery process doesn’t take very long. Wait until the anesthetics wear off, and then you can eat and chew food like you normally would - just make sure to not chew anything while the anesthetics are still wearing off as you can bite down/chew on your tongue and cheeks without realizing it, causing injury to the soft tissues. If you notice some rough spots (leftover dental cement) that don’t go away after a few days of regular eating, let us know, and we can smooth it out for you.
To get the 5-7 years out of resin-composite, and the 10+ years out of porcelain dental veneers, you’ll need to take precautions like:
- Avoid chewing on hard objects like fingernails, pens, and ice.
- Do not open packaging with your teeth.
- Cut up hard foods that would require you to chew with your front teeth.
- Use a night guard, splint, or retainer to protect teeth from grinding or clenching actions at night.
- Wear a mouth guard if you’re actively taking part in contact sports.
If you take these precautions, and follow proper dental hygiene practices, you should get the longest lifespan out of your dental veneers.
If you're considering dental veneers to enhance your smile, we encourage you to contact Family, Implant & Cosmetic Dentistry for a consultation. Our dentists will work with you to determine if dental veneers are the right choice for you, and walk you through the entire process so that you know what to expect. We offer both traditional dental veneers and porcelain dental veneers, so we have a variety of options available to suit your individual needs. Contact us today to get started!