What are porcelain veneers?

A porcelain veneer is a thin layer of porcelain shaped to fit a particular tooth. It covers the front surface of a tooth, similar to the way an acrylic fingernail covers a nail. Though porcelain is the most commonly used material, veneers are sometimes made from alternative, composite material.

Alternate names include dental veneers and dental porcelain laminates. Veneers are a cosmetic dentistry procedure.

What are porcelain veneers used for?

The majority of veneers are for the purpose of improving appearance. They can be used to alter the length, size, shape, and color of a tooth. Discolored teeth can result from excessive fluoride use, long-term smoking, drug use, and more. Veneers can cover this up, particularly in instances where the discoloration is irreversible. Some people go in for only one veneer while others seek their whole smile to be covered. 

Other veneer candidates include those with teeth that are worn down, broken, chipped, uneven, and misaligned. Any unwanted or irregular gaps can also be covered up with veneers. Crowns and bondings are often used for these same purposes, though crowns cover the whole tooth; veneers only the front. Veneers are best described as an intermediate option between crowns and bondings.

Do veneers ruin your real teeth?

No, they don’t. They are specifically designed not to. Porcelain has become commonplace for this procedure because it doesn’t cause any gum discomfort or tooth sensitivity. Then couple that with the custom design of every veneer.

Each one is cosmetically designed to fit the tooth perfectly. They’re bonded to your tooth using a composite resin that hardens using a special light. Then once the veneer is fully bonded to the tooth, the dentist further polishes, shapes, and perfects it.

And those aren’t the only reasons that veneers don’t ruin your real teeth. The bonding resin mentioned above is a special composite that doesn’t affect your teeth at all. The fact that veneers aren’t made of enamel is important too. Enamel stains quite easily; porcelain doesn’t. Also, porcelain veneers are hard and are much more resistant to damage than your enamel-coated, natural teeth.

Are porcelain veneers permanent?

Technically, no. But they last for a very long time. So long, in fact, that some people who take good care of them never have to replace them. They can last for decades. Remember though, they are irreversible. Because veneers add mass to your mouth, the procedure involves filing the applicable teeth down to make room. And enamel doesn’t grow back. This means once you get veneers, you’re always going to have veneers.

Some people who aren’t comfortable with this go with something called Lumineers. Unlike regular veneers, Lumineers are reversible. However, they don’t last as long and are less durable. Ask your dentist any additional questions you have about this.

How long do porcelain veneers last?

If cared for properly, they can last for 10-15 years, often even longer. Depending on your age when you first get them, you may never have to replace them if you’re responsible. But if they do need to be replaced, which is common, the procedure is simple.

Just practice basic oral hygiene and your veneers will last for a long time. Show up to your scheduled dental appointments, brush your teeth twice a day, and floss regularly. Oh, and don’t do anything with your teeth that they aren’t supposed to do, like open packages, for instance. Wear a mouthguard when playing sports.

There are additional things to remember if you really want to care for them. Chew hard foods with your back teeth, not your front. You could even get in the habit of cutting up harder foods. Many people with veneers choose to do this. Sleep with a mouth guard or retainer to prevent grinding and clenching. Don’t chew on your nails, ice cubes, pens, and other hard objects.

Do veneers fall off?

They can. This can be due to a number of reasons. Perhaps it’s old. The bonding doesn’t last forever and eventually it may weaken. Or maybe your veneers weren’t bonded properly to begin with. If your tooth has decayed, this can cause the veneer to fall off. This tends to be most common among people who take many prescription drugs on a regular basis. Or perhaps you’ve simply been negligent by forgetting to wear your mouth guard while sleeping or eating hard foods.

Veneers are strong and should not break easily. But if they become loose or fall off, contact your dentist right away. DON’T try and glue it back on yourself. You don’t have the proper tools are bonding solution. Your dentist does. It’s also important to note that individual veneers can’t be fixed. When damaged, they have to be fully replaced.

What do porcelain veneers cost?

Typically they cost somewhere in the range of $925-$2,500 per tooth. 

These costs depend on a few things. (1) In-demand dentists may charge more. (2) The skill and experience of the ceramic artist fabricating the veneers may be extensive, raising the price. (3) Location. Cosmetic dentistry prices fluctuate between small towns and metropolitan areas. (4) The type of dental insurance you have. (5) Porcelain costs more than composite resin. (6) The number of veneers you’re paying for.

There are less expensive alternatives, such as the composite resin veneers previously mentioned. But they’re not as durable, don’t last as long, and sometimes don’t look quite as good.

Feel free to ask our office about financing options. You can also explore third-party financing (CareCredit).

What are the disadvantages of veneers?

Customer feedback tells us that the pros of porcelain veneers far outweigh the cons. But there are some things that may be considered downsides, such as:

  • The irreversible nature of veneers
  • The cost
  • They can only be replaced when broken, not repaired
  • Higher tooth sensitivity due to enamel removal during the procedure
  • The color of your veneer is unalterable
  • In some rare cases, a veneered tooth decays and then requires a full crown
  • People who grind their teeth are generally advised against getting veneers

Do veneers stain with coffee?

No. Porcelain (unlike enamel) is not porous so its averse to stain from things like red wine, tea, and coffee. But over time (7-10 years) some non-coffee related discoloration does sometimes happen, on the edges where real tooth meets the veneer. Dentist typically do their best to prevent this from happening with very careful and precise veneer application.

Can veneers be whitened?

No. At least not with products you can buy at the local store. It’s very common for people with veneers to attempt whitening on their own. The problem is that over-the-counter whitening solutions are ineffective on porcelain (as well as composite resin). If you notice your veneers becoming discolored (usually it’s a brown or yellow color), contact your dentist. They can sometimes remove surface stains with their equipment, preventing veneer replacement. But your biannual dentist visits should do most of the work here.

Can I floss with veneers?

Yes, definitely! If you’re a habitual flosser, don’t stop on account of your veneers. Flossing is part of good oral hygiene, with or without porcelain veneers.

Can I get veneers if I have missing teeth?

No. A porcelain veneer is designed to cover up tooth cracks, chips, gaps, or discoloration. Without a tooth to place the veneer on, there would be no reason to get one. Though there are many options for people wanting to remedy a missing tooth, porcelain veneers are not one of them.

Can you bite an apple with veneers?

Yes. However, once you have veneers, you would be wise to be more aware of what you’re chomping down on. Veneers are strong, durable, and designed to mimic your regular teeth. But they’re not indestructible. Especially during the first few days of having them applied. Here are some foods to definitely avoid within the first 72 hours (at least) of having veneers put on:

  • Drinks with pigment in them, like soda, wine, coffee, tea, etc.
  • Sticky food like candy, gum, peanut butter, etc.
  • Chocolate
  • Any food that can leave stains on your teeth, like tomatoes, red pepper, jam, berries, curry, ketchup, etc.
  • Any crunchy food like chips, seeds, nuts, breakfast cereal, etc.
  • Chewy meat like beef jerky, rare steak, etc.
  • Any hard food like apples, popcorn, candy, ice cubes, etc.
  • Toast or any other hard, crusty bread

This list is not complete, but you get the idea. Be smart.

Now, for the sake of being thorough, here’s a list of approved foods post-veneer procedure:

  • Soft canned food
  • Crustless bread
  • White fish
  • Bananas
  • Eggs
  • Pasta
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Small pieces of chicken

Most of these are self-explanatory, but just know that you need to stick to soft foods immediately after having veneers applied.

What should you do before getting porcelain veneers?

So, you’re considering getting porcelain veneers applied. What’s the first thing you should do? Naturally, you should set up an appointment with your dentist. He’ll diagnose the current state of your teeth in question and help you form a treatment plan. You’ll receive a dental examination to make sure you’re a good candidate for veneers. They’ll also make impressions of your teeth and mouth as well as take X-rays. These impressions are sent to a dental lab where they fabricate your veneer.

A dentist may apply temporary veneers to the patient while waiting for the real ones to come. This allows the patient to try out their new smile.

2-4 weeks is about how long it usually takes for the dentist to get your veneers back from the lab. At this point, you’ll have a return appointment where the dentist will prepare you. Local anesthetic will be used to numb the appropriate area. This involves removing roughly half a millimeter of enamel from the surface of the applicable tooth. He will then apply the veneer using a special bond.

What should you do after getting porcelain veneers?

The first things to follow are the eating recommendations already listed a couple of sections above. After a few days have gone by since your veneer procedure, just treat them as you would your regular teeth. They’re designed to function just like normal teeth. Brush like you’re used to, floss like you’re used to, etc. One more thing you should do after getting your veneers: smile a lot.

Does getting veneers hurt?

Sometimes, but even then the pain is mild. Some people experience gum sensitivity to varying degrees after getting veneers. This is due to the bonding. It can cause sensations comparable to the feeling of biting into something really cold. You’re likely familiar with the short, sharp pain we’re referring to. But again, just as many people report that they had no pain or sensitivity whatsoever after getting veneers applied. It depends on the person.

If you find yourself in the rare circumstance of feeling real pain, mild painkillers as needed should do the trick. You can also try rinsing your mouth with warm salt water before going to be bed. This is completely safe for your veneers. Many people have reported this quells pain before sleep.

Porcelain Veneers (Everything You Wish You Knew) – Conclusion

We covered a lot of information here. But if you have more questions, reach out to us and we’d love to talk. If you’ve been thinking about possibly getting porcelain veneers, set up a consultation with us and we’ll help you get the ball rolling.