Dental veneers: a quick guide

Are you looking to enhance your smile and regain confidence in your appearance? Dental veneers might be the solution you've been seeking, but some elements need to be considered to ensure they´re a good fit for you. But before diving into the world of dental veneers, it's essential to understand what they are, how they work, and what to expect. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about dental veneers, from the different types available to the process of getting them and how to care for them afterwards.

What are veneers?

Dental veneers are thin, custom-made shells designed to cover the front surface of teeth, improving their appearance. These shells are bonded to the teeth, changing their colour, shape, size, or length. 

Veneers can be made from porcelain or resin composite materials, each with its advantages. Porcelain veneers resist stains better than resin veneers and better mimic the light-reflecting properties of natural teeth.

The veneer treatments are often used in “smile makeovers” at dental practices due to the ability to transform your smile in a fairly short time. 

How do veneers work?

Veneers work by covering the visible part of the tooth with a custom-made shell. The process begins with a consultation with a cosmetic dentist, during which your dentist will evaluate your teeth and discuss the desired outcome. 

A small amount of tooth enamel is then removed to make space for the veneer, after which an impression of your tooth is taken to create the veneer. Once the veneer is ready, it is permanently bonded to the tooth, instantly improving its appearance.

Veneers usually last between 5 and 15 years, depending on the type of dental veneers chosen and the oral hygiene of the patient. If you would like to learn more information about the dental veneer lifespan & lasting factors, visit our recent article.

Who is a good fit for dental veneers?

Individuals seeking to improve their smile by addressing discoloured teeth, or those with teeth that are worn down, chipped, misaligned, uneven, or irregularly shaped can benefit from dental veneers. 

Veneers are also an option for those with crooked teeth or patients looking to close gaps between their teeth without orthodontics. A consultation with a dental professional can help determine if veneers are the right choice for you.

Veneers cost in the UK

While veneers in the UK have gained popularity over the last few years, it´s also important to consider the cost of the veneer treatment as they will typically need to be replaced every 5-15 years.

Dental veneers in the UK typically cost between £150 to £2,000 per tooth, depending on the type of veneers chosen, the location of the dental office, along with other factors like additional treatments needed.

You can expect the porcelain veneers to be more expensive than composite, usually priced from £500 across the UK. Composite veneers usually are a cheaper alternative, usually costing between £150-£600, however, since they need to be replaced more often, you may want to consider the longevity when considering the prices as it can quickly add up.

Are there different types of veneers?

There are several types of veneers, each offering unique benefits and considerations.

Composite veneers

Composite veneers are made from a tooth-coloured resin applied directly to the teeth and sculpted to the desired shape. They are less expensive and can usually be applied in one visit but are not as durable as porcelain veneers and may stain more easily.

Porcelain veneers

Porcelain veneers are custom-made in a lab and then bonded to the teeth. They offer a natural appearance, are strong and long-lasting, and resist stains better than composite veneers. Porcelain veneers require multiple visits to complete but are considered the gold standard in veneer materials.

No-prep veneers

No-prep veneers, such as Lumineers, require minimal to no removal of tooth enamel. They are thinner than traditional veneers and can be reversible but may not be suitable for all dental concerns.

Temporary veneers

Temporary veneers, also known as clip-on veneers, are a temporary and non-invasive option. They can be worn over the existing teeth to improve appearance without any permanent alteration to the natural teeth. However, they are not typically recommended by dentists in the UK as a permanent solution for improving dental aesthetics. 

While they may offer a temporary cosmetic enhancement for special occasions or photoshoots, they have several limitations compared to traditional porcelain or composite veneers and are not a substitute for professional dental treatment.

Veneers procedure steps

The veneer procedure typically involves several steps, from consultation to final placement:

Before veneer placement

  • A thorough dental exam is conducted to ensure veneers are appropriate for your dental needs. 

  • This may involve taking X-rays and making impressions of your mouth and teeth. 

  • The dentist will discuss the desired outcome and the type of veneer best suited for your situation so that a treatment plan can be produced.

During veneer placement

  • The tooth is prepared by removing a small amount of enamel to accommodate the veneer. 

  • An impression is then taken and sent to a dental lab where the veneer is created. 

  • Once ready, the veneer is permanently bonded to the tooth after adjusting for fit and colour. 

Do dental veneers require special care after the procedure?

Dental veneers do not require special care beyond good oral health practices. It's important to brush at least twice a day, floss daily, and visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings. 

While veneers are stain-resistant, especially porcelain ones, it's advisable to avoid excessive consumption of stain-causing foods and beverages. Additionally, even though veneers are durable, avoiding using your teeth as tools or biting into very hard foods can help prolong their life.

What are the risks of veneer treatment?

Like any dental procedure, veneer placement comes with potential risks, though they are relatively minor. These can include:

  • Sensitivity to hot and cold due to enamel removal.

  • The possibility of veneers chipping or falling off.

  • Mismatched colour between the veneer and natural teeth over time. 

  • It's also possible for decay to develop under or around a veneer. 

Selecting an experienced dentist and following proper oral hygiene can mitigate these risks significantly.

What are the advantages of dental veneers?

Dental veneers offer numerous advantages, making them a popular choice for cosmetic dental improvements. They provide a natural tooth appearance and are usually gum-tissue friendly. Porcelain veneers, in particular, are resistant to stains and can make even the darkest teeth appear bright white. 

Veneers also offer a conservative approach to changing a tooth's colour and shape; they don't require the extensive shaping prior to the procedure that crowns do, yet offer a stronger, more aesthetic alternative.

Frequently asked questions

Do veneers damage your teeth?

Veneers involve the removal of a small amount of tooth enamel to fit the veneer properly, which is a permanent change to your teeth. However, when performed by a skilled dental professional, this procedure is designed to minimize damage and protect the integrity of your teeth. 

Proper planning and techniques ensure that the impact on your natural teeth is minimal and beneficial in the long term. It's important to maintain good oral hygiene and follow your dentist's recommendations to care for your veneers and underlying teeth

Are veneers permanent?

Veneers are considered a semi-permanent dental solution. Because the process involves the removal of a thin layer of tooth enamel, it's not reversible. However, veneers themselves have a lifespan and will likely need to be replaced at some point. Porcelain veneers can last between 10 to 15 years, while composite veneers may last about 5 to 7 years, depending on care and usage. Factors such as dental hygiene, habits, and the type of veneer material play significant roles in the longevity of the treatment.

Veneers vs crowns: what's the difference?

Dental veneers and crowns are two popular options for restoring the appearance of teeth, but they serve different purposes and involve distinct procedures. Veneers cover only the front surface of a tooth and are primarily used for cosmetic improvements. 

Crowns, on the other hand, cover the entire tooth, providing both cosmetic and structural restoration. Crowns are used when a tooth is more significantly damaged or decayed, requiring more comprehensive coverage and protection.