So, what are they, what do they do and, most importantly, where’s the rub?
What are veneers?
A veneer is a wafer-thin, permanent bond applied to your tooth. Veneers cover up the colors, shapes, or positions of your teeth you do not like. Veneers can be applied to just one tooth or on multiple teeth. Veneers can be partial or full, referring to how much of the tooth gets covered.
Composite resin veneers are made from tooth-colored resin, the same material as a dental filling. The final result will rely heavily on the skill of the dentist. Porcelain laminate veneers were first introduced to the dental profession in 1983 and have become the industry standard. Porcelain laminates are generally more natural looking and more durable than their counterparts—composite resin veneers—but are also more expensive.
What do veneers do?
A veneer is thin, thin enough to allow light to pass through. In doing so it, essentially, reflects from light from your tooth to your tooth viewer. Your dentist will bond the veneer to your tooth, so success with your veneers depends largely on your dental hygiene. Most people with good oral hygiene and healthy gum tissue can be successful with veneers.
Veneers are not appropriate for aesthetic restoration of all anterior teeth—the 12 teeth that are located in the front of your mouth. You’ll need to work with your dentist or orthodontist in some cases to select the teeth best suited to receive a veneer. The nature of veneers is not without potential complications. Some of the complications for veneers include:
- Too little enamel available for bonding
- Tooth stress from trauma, including but not limited to blunt force trauma and stomach acid trauma (e.g., in cases of bulimia)
- Multiple trips to the dentist are required
- Porcelain veneers are better but more expensive than composite veneers
Once you commit to your veneer plan and figure out how many you need, your dentist will have you take more molds, X-rays, and photographs. Then, you’ll come back to get fitted for temporary veneers and wear them for seven to 10 days.
Important note: You may need to get your teeth shaved down for veneers, typically .5 millimeters—the thickness of your fingernail.
Lumineers—more than an alternative rock band
Lumineers is a brand of semi-permanent veneers. They’re affordably priced and don’t require the prep work (like shaving of the teeth) that more permanent veneers do. Not every dentist offers this product and not everyone is a good candidate for this type of veneer, so you’ll want to talk to your dentist if this seems like a prospect for you.
Crowns—more than a royal head piece
A crown is about a 2-millimeter-thick covering of your entire tooth. Crowns can be all porcelain, porcelain fused to a metal alloy (PFM), or an all-metal alloy. With crowns, typically more of the tooth needs to be filed down before placement. If you have tooth decay or if your tooth is damaged in some other way, it will need to be cleaned out and built up before making the crown. You’ll be given a local anesthetic for this procedure, so don’t let the fear of pain postpone the procedure.
The cost of veneers
Dental veneers, if you ask a variety of providers, range in cost from as low as $400 to as high as $2,500 per tooth. Composite veneers range from $400-$1,500 per tooth and porcelain veneers range from $900 to $2,500 per tooth. This difference in cost should be considered before talking to your dentist because this is typically a cosmetic procedure and not usually covered by insurance.
So, having said all this, it’s likely your aesthetic needs can be addressed in a manner suitable to your financial needs. It all starts with good hygiene—flossing once a day and brushing twice a day—and a conversation with your dentist—one that should take place during a twice-yearly exam. Get the hint?