Veneers are thin coverings applied to the outer surface of the teeth to improve their appearance. Many people opt for veneers to address a range of cosmetic dental issues, such as gaps, chips, cracks, stains, unevenness, discoloration, and misalignment.
You may choose to get veneers on just one or two teeth or several more—typically the top front row of teeth, as they are most visible.
This article discusses veneers, including types, cost, durability, and what to expect from the procedure.
Types of Veneers
Veneers may be made from porcelain or a resin-based composite material. Each type of veneer comes with benefits and drawbacks.
Porcelain veneers are custom-made, thin shells attached to the front of your teeth. Porcelain veneers are less invasive than crowns (a replacement for the visible portion of the tooth) or implants (an artificial tooth attached to the jaw) as a means of improving the aesthetics of your teeth.
They are durable, natural-looking, sturdy, stain-resistant, and long-lasting coverings.
Resin-Based Composite Veneers
Resin-based composite veneers are attached to the front of your teeth with a tooth-colored bonding agent.
Compared to porcelain veneers, composite veneers don’t require as much reshaping of the tooth. The procedure may be completed in a single visit to the dentist in some cases. They are also usually less expensive and easier to fix.
However, composite veneers aren’t as sturdy or long lasting as porcelain veneers. They’re also easier to stain over time. They may not be as effective in treating more severe cosmetic dental issues either.
How Much Do Veneers Cost?
According to the American Dental Association, veneers typically cost between $925 and $2,000 per tooth.
The cost of veneers also varies according to your location, the cosmetic dentist you select, the number of teeth you choose to treat, and the number of visits it takes to complete your procedure. Dental insurance generally does not cover veneers or any other cosmetic dentistry.
How Long Do Veneers Last?
Typically, porcelain veneers last around 10 to 15 years. However, with excellent aftercare and maintenance, they may last 20 years or more. In one study, 91% of patients with porcelain veneers still had them after 20 years.
Composite veneers are not quite as durable. They last around five to seven years on average.
After your veneers begin to show signs of wear and tear, such as detaching from the bonding agent, you may have to schedule a replacement procedure.
Over time, veneers may chip, fracture, crack, separate from the tooth, or become discolored. In one study, however, over 82% of patients were happy with the results of their restoration procedures after experiencing problems with their original veneers.
How Do Veneers Work?
To prepare you for porcelain veneers, your dentist will typically start by removing a small amount of enamel (the outer covering of the tooth) from the front and/or sides of your natural teeth. Tooth reshaping allows your veneers to fit more comfortably and achieve a more natural-looking appearance in your mouth.
After your enamel reduction, your dentist will create a mold of your teeth. The mold will be sent off to a dental lab to create a custom set of veneers that can then be fitted, bonded, polished, and adjusted.
Because some of your natural tooth material will have to be removed, veneers are typically irreversible.
Some no-preparation and minimal-preparation porcelain veneers are paper-thin and don’t require as much (or any) tooth reshaping. However, not everyone is a candidate for these newer procedures. Your tooth enamel must already be in great shape for this option.
Before getting veneers, you should practice good oral hygiene and ensure your teeth are ready for the procedure. Your dentist should treat any underlying gum or dental concerns before you proceed.
Getting porcelain veneers usually takes two to three visits over six weeks. The steps typically include:
- Consultation: You will discuss your dental concerns with your dental care provider and select your preferred tooth color and shape at your consultation. Your visit will also likely include a thorough dental examination and X-ray imaging.
- Tooth preparation and molding: At your next visit, your dentist will use a local anesthetic (using agents that numb and prevent pain in the area being worked on) and/or sedation (using agents that relax your entire body) while they reshape your teeth, remove a small amount of enamel, and make a mold of your teeth to send off to a dental lab. You might be given temporary veneers to wear until your next visit.
- Placement and adjustment: At your third visit, your dentist will bond your new veneers to your natural teeth. They will finish up by polishing and adjusting them as necessary. You may have to return for follow-up appointments to ensure that your veneers are placed correctly.
The process for resin-based composite veneers is often shorter and less complex than with porcelain. After your teeth are prepared, your dentist will shape and harden the composite material and bond it to your teeth.
If your dentist uses in-office computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology to create the composite material, you may even be able to complete the procedure in a single visit.
Taking care of your veneers is key to maintaining their appearance over time.
Soon after your procedure, your dentist may recommend that you temporarily stop drinking red wine or coffee to avoid stains. It’s also best to avoid extremely hot or cold foods and beverages, as your teeth may be sensitive at first.
Here are some other veneer aftercare tips to make sure that you get the long-term cosmetic results you want:
- Brush and floss regularly to avoid getting cavities under your veneers.
- Wear a mouth guard to avoid grinding your teeth (bruxism), which can wear away your veneers over time.
- Tell your dentist if you feel that your veneers are starting to decay or separate from your natural tooth.
- See your dentist for regular cleanings and follow-up appointments.
- Avoid chewing on items that may damage your veneers, such as hard candy, pencils, pens, or ice.
Do I Need Veneers?
Not everyone is a good candidate for veneers. Talk to your dentist before getting veneers if you:
- Have any underlying health issues, especially with your teeth or gums
- Have any missing teeth
- Frequently grind or clench your teeth
Because veneers are usually irreversible, you may want to try less-invasive options first. Orthodontic treatments (such as Invisalign or braces) or teeth-whitening procedures might address your cosmetic dental concerns.
Veneers are thin coverings applied to the outer surface of the teeth to improve their appearance. People get veneers to address aesthetic dental issues such as discoloration, gaps, stains, cracks, and chips.
Porcelain veneers are custom-made to fit the front of the teeth. They typically last around 10 to 15 years. Resin-based composite veneers are attached to the front of the teeth with adhesive. They usually last about five to seven years. Veneers typically cost up to $2,000 per tooth.
The process of getting porcelain veneers usually takes around six weeks. A dentist will typically start by removing a small amount of tooth enamel and creating a mold of the teeth before placing, polishing, and adjusting the custom-made veneers. Resin-based composite veneers may be applied in one to two visits.
After getting veneers, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing every day and scheduling regular cleanings. People who grind their teeth frequently or have missing teeth may not be good candidates for veneers.
A Word From Verywell
If you’re unhappy with the appearance of your teeth, talk to your dentist about what options are best for you considering your oral health history. You may or may not be a good candidate for veneers, but there may be other procedures that they recommend.
Because cosmetic dentistry is usually not covered by dental insurance, you should consider the cost of a procedure, including how often you will need to have the procedure repeated.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are veneers permanent?
Veneers are not permanent, but they last a long time. On average, porcelain veneers need to be replaced after about 10 years (although they may last longer). Resin-based composite veneers last around five to seven years.
Can veneers fall off?
Veneers can fall off or get damaged over time. In some cases, veneers may start to separate from your teeth when the bonding material breaks down. Veneers may also fall off due to tooth decay, teeth grinding, or problems with your gums.
Are you supposed to brush veneers?
It’s important to practice good oral hygiene and brush your veneers regularly to prevent tooth decay. While the veneers themselves can’t decay, the natural teeth underneath them can. You should brush and floss regularly and consider using mouthwash.