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Hollywood stars with perfect gleaming white teeth are often sporting veneers. Veneers are a popular type of cosmetic dentistry, as people worry about their smiles and that all-important first impression. Veneers are thin, shaped “covers,” usually for the front of your teeth. They’re a comparatively less-invasive solution for stained, chipped, crooked, misshapen, and gapped teeth than crowns (or caps).
Are Veneers for You?
An older study in the Journal of Dentistry measured dental patient satisfaction with veneers. Patients were asked to fill out questionnaires at the time of the veneers placement, at one year later, and again at two years later. Patient satisfaction at the start was 76 percent. At two years, it was 78 percent.
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Veneers share similarities with fake nails, which people glue into place to make fingernails look long and perfect. Veneers basically do the same thing for your teeth. They can close gaps between teeth, make your teeth appear straight, and hide chips and stains. However, you need to go into veneers with your eyes wide open.
The procedure required to prepare your teeth for veneers permanently changes your teeth, but the veneers themselves only last 10 to 15 years. That’s because veneers can fall prey to the same problems as real teeth. Veneers can chip, crack, and stain. How? By the same things that chip, crack, and stain your own teeth, including biting something hard or drinking a lot of coffee.
If you go for veneers, you need to be prepared financially and emotionally to replace the veneers several times throughout your lifetime.
Veneers Tooth Preparation
The dentist will remove some layers of the tooth enamel on the front of your teeth to prepare them for the veneers. This is a permanent change, as enamel does not grow back. Once the enamel is removed, you will have to always have veneers.
The enamel is removed so the finished teeth don’t look oversized with veneers on it. Any decay on the teeth is also removed before placing the veneers. Preparation for a crown is far more extensive and involves shaping the entire tooth, making it smaller than normal so the crown can be placed over it.
The veneers procedure usually takes two dental visits, with time for your veneers to be made at the dental lab. If you’re using prefabricated veneers instead of custom veneers, it may be done in one visit.
Veneers: Not a New Idea
Wikipedia shares the history of veneers, which began in 1928 when Charles Pincus, a dentist in California, used veneers to change the appearance of actors’ teeth just for a film shoot. Nine years later, he made veneers that could be cemented for longer periods of time, but still temporarily.
Dr. Michael Bounocore, in 1959, began the practice of bonding porcelain veneers to etched enamel, which is still used today. However, it wasn’t until Simonsen and Calamia, in 1982, that bond strengths were achieved for permanent attachment of veneers.
Veneers are held in place with adhesive and cement, and they usually stay in place well. You brush and floss your teeth normally, although you may be wise to take care around foods like coffee that may stain your veneers.
Types of Veneers
Veneers are basically available as porcelain or composite resin, with variations and differing brand names within each type. There are ultra-thin veneers, such as Lumineers, which are believed to be so thin that little-to-no tooth preparation is necessary (sometimes called “no preparation veneers.”) With these veneers, enamel removal is minimal to non-existent. If you have extensive tooth wear on the inside (tongue side) of the tooth, you may be advised to get palatal veneers, which may constructed in gold, if you want.
There are also non-permanent veneers that your dentist can fashion for you, so you can try wearing veneers before you decide if you want to go through with the procedure or if you just want to wear them at certain times. These “snap in” or “instant” veneers are made from a mold of your teeth and then simply snap them into place when you need them, much like a mouthpiece. This tends to be a less-expensive option, but it may make your teeth look and feel bulky.
The decision on what type of veneer is best for you should be a joint decision between you and your dentist. For instance, if your teeth are stained, an ultra-thin veneer may not adequately cover the staining.
A 2014 study by the British Dental Association was unable to determine “whether bonded composite veneers perform better than ceramic veneers for the repair and aesthetic enhancement of worn and otherwise damaged teeth.” The study stated that “surface quality changes and temporary postoperative sensitivity are more frequent in composite veneers than ceramic veneers. Patients are equally satisfied with porcelain and composite laminates after placement, but in the longer term, porcelain veneers provide significantly greater satisfaction.” Satisfaction, of course, is not necessarily the same as “better.”
Cost of Veneers
According to authoritydental.com, veneers can cost anywhere from $250 to $2,500 per tooth and, the site warns, discounts are rare. They state that costs vary by geographic location, but porcelain veneers average $1,000 per tooth. The higher end of the scale is usually for ultra-thin veneers, although some companies boast a 20-year lifespan.
It’s best to plan that veneers all last approximately 10 years. If you get more years, all the better, but if not, you need to be prepared for the cost of replacement.
Instant veneers typically cost $200 to $1,575 per arch, according to realself.com (average $975). However, instant veneers average about two years and then need to be replaced.
Other costs to consider are x-rays, temporary veneers if you choose them, and the dental visits themselves. Insurance is not likely to pay for veneers, as they are considered a cosmetic procedure.