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Veneers: The pros and cons

If you have teeth that are badly discolored, uneven or chipped, then dental veneers might be for you. They’re commonly used to change a tooth’s color, size, shape and even length. Veneers can be used on one tooth, or all your teeth, depending on your preference and budget.

What are veneers and how do they work?

Veneers are custom-made shells that cover the front surfaces of your teeth. The shells are very thin and made from either porcelain or resin composite materials commonly used in other dental procedures, such as fillings. The type of material used for your veneers depends on your teeth and gum health.

Veneers can be a good option for you if you have some of these problems:

  • Your teeth are worn down (not all the same length, for example)
  • Your teeth are chipped or broken
  • You have gaps between teeth
  • Your teeth are uneven or irregularly shaped

Note that veneers are expensive, and the procedure isn’t usually covered by dental plans. Before you decide to get veneers, have your dentist request a pre-treatment estimate from Delta Dental with proper documentation (written and x-ray evidence) to explain why a veneer was recommended.

How are veneers placed on my teeth?

Getting veneers usually takes two or three trips to your dentist. This includes a consultation and x-rays, a fitting and a visit to have the veneers applied.

To create an even appearance, your dentist will file off about a millimeter of enamel from the tooth. (Don’t worry — a local anesthetic will be used so you won’t feel any pain.) Your dentist will then make impressions of the tooth and have it sent to a lab to make the veneer. The process takes two to four weeks.

If your teeth are badly chipped or broken, you might get temporary veneers while you wait for the final product.

  1. When your permanent veneer arrives, your dentist will place it on your tooth to confirm it fits correctly and you’re happy with its appearance. If the veneer doesn’t fit correctly, a new impression will be taken and another fit will be scheduled.
  2. To apply the veneer, your dentist will clean, polish and etch your tooth, making the surface rough so the bonding material adheres better.
  3. A special bonding cement is applied to the veneer, which is then placed on your tooth. A light beam that generates heat is then directed at the tooth, causing the bonding cement to harden.
  4. After the veneer is attached, your dentist will remove any excess bonding cement, check your bite and make any necessary adjustments.

What are the advantages of veneers?

  • Veneers give your teeth an evenly spaced, bright appearance.
  • Veneers don’t stain, so you don’t have to worry about polishing them as you would your natural teeth.
  • Your gums probably won’t react to the material. (This is something your dentist can test ahead of time.)
  • Unlike a crown, a veneer doesn’t require your tooth to be significantly filed down or reshaped.

What are the disadvantages of veneers?

Some potential drawbacks include:

  • They’re permanent. Once veneers are applied, you can’t decide you’d prefer not to have them because your teeth’s enamel had to be filed off to make them fit.
  • Chips and cracks can’t easily be repaired. Although they’re quite strong, veneers can chip or even fall off if you put excessive pressure on your teeth.
  • They’re more expensive than other whitening procedures. Veneers may not be covered by your insurance, especially if you’re having them applied for cosmetic reasons. Check your benefits before deciding.
  • You can’t whiten your teeth after getting veneers. The color you choose for veneers is permanent, so be sure you’re happy with how they look.
  • Your teeth might be more sensitive. Hot and cold foods and drinks might bother you a bit more than before because your enamel had to be removed for the veneers.
  • They’ll need to be replaced eventually. Veneers typically last from seven to 15 years.

What options do I have other than veneers?

If you have tooth decay, large fillings or gum disease, you probably aren’t a good candidate for veneers, but you still have options.

  • Whitening. If you have badly discolored teeth, you can still have whitening done at your dentist’s office. Check to see if your dental plan covers teeth whitening.
  • Filing or crowns. Your dentist may recommend filing down a tooth that is too long to align better with other teeth, or having a crown placed on a short tooth to make it longer.

As with any dental procedure, you should discuss your options with your dentist to find what would work best for you. Review your dental benefits to see what procedures are covered and ask your dentist to submit a pre-treatment estimate to determine your approximate out-of-pocket costs.    

Last updated February 3, 2022

The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.