What are dental veneers and how are they used?

01 A girl choosing the color of the dental veneers she is going to wear

If you have wondered what dental veneers are, today in this post we will explain all the details about this interesting topic. Dental veneers are one of the most common aesthetic dental treatments (they are famous among Hollywood actors). That is why many people today wonder what they are, what they are for, how they are installed, their advantages and disadvantages, how long they last once they are put on, etc. Read this article and get all the answers.

Among the many frequently asked questions that people ask themselves regarding dental veneers, we will answer the following:

  • What are dental veneers and what are they for?
  • What are dental veneers and how much do they cost?
  • What are dental veneers and how long do they last?
  • And so on.

Now let’s try to answer all these questions and others, always clearly and in detail. We know perfectly well that dental health is not a game, so we cannot give answers lightly. In our investigation we have included, as always, criteria in favor and some unfavorable, and of course, medical and scientific arguments on the subject we are dealing with will not be lacking here.

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What are dental veneers and what are they for?

So: What are dental veneers and what are they for? Dental veneers are a permanent restorative dental treatment, which is based on masking the visible or front part of the teeth with sheets that are very similar in appearance to natural enamel. Dental veneers can be placed on one or multiple teeth, as needed.

Said restorative masking may have the purpose of correcting pathologies that have destroyed the teeth (cavities, previous restoration errors, alterations in color or shape, cracks, etc.), but it may also have merely aesthetic objectives. Therefore dental veneers are often called “aesthetic veneers”.

02 Diagram of porcelain dental veneers showing the grinding of the tooth to be used to place them

Why are dental veneers put on?

We have decided to answer in this separate section the question: Why are dental veneers put on? Since there are two reasons that, as much as they appear to be the same, are not at all. Why are dental veneers put on? Well, for two basic reasons:

  1. For reasons of aesthetics and dental functionality
  2. For dental cosmetic reasons

Obviously, even in cases where dental veneers are fitted for reasons of reconstruction of functional defects such as cavities or tooth fractures, their function is aesthetic. But it is not reduced to aesthetics, since the veneers prevent the deterioration of the teeth and therefore:

  • They favor the alignment of the teeth, and therefore occlusion and chewing, which are the first step in the correct digestion of food.
  • They restore the wearing effects of bruxism (grinding or clenching the jaws and teeth), cavities or dental fractures to the teeth.
  • They reduce or eliminate the effects of dental hypoplasia, that is, the disorder that determines that there is an absence of the enamel that normally protects the teeth.

However, when dental veneers are used without a functional need, their function can be said to be cosmetic. In this case, its function is not very different from that of false nails or eyelashes, although the essential difference between dental veneers is their permanent nature.

The resource of placing dental veneers has been used since the 40s of the 20th century. The first attempts, not very successful, were the so-called “Hollywood Fronts”. From then until today, the Hollywood stardom system has demanded a “perfect look” from actors, which often includes both plastic surgery and cosmetic dentistry.

03 A young person with a smile with even, white teeth

It was not until the 1980s that veneers emerged as we know them today, based on porcelain, ceramics, and silicates, and with a permanent nature in their placement. This leads us directly to another very important question.

How are dental veneers put on?

One of the most important points when it comes to dental veneers is the way they are placed on the teeth. It is a “destructive” procedure, that is, it is based on modifying and adapting the shape of the teeth so that the veneers fit well and have the most natural appearance possible. So, it can be concluded that it is a permanent and definitive transformation of the teeth, with no turning back. Once the veneers are installed, you have to keep replacing them when they deteriorate.

Porcelain veneers, as well as lithium disilicate and zirconium veneers, are manufactured in the laboratory and are fitted already prepared. Its elaboration is made from molds taken from the patient’s teeth to which adaptations based on their expectations are added. On the other hand, ceramic veneers are made from resins while they are being fitted. In the 3 cases of pre-made veneers, all the veneers can be placed in a single session. But if it is ceramic veneers, they must be placed little by little in successive sessions.

04 A young woman undergoing normal dental treatment

What material are dental veneers made of?

It is important to know: What material are dental veneers made of? Of course, it is always sought that dental masks are made of a material that is as similar as possible to that of the teeth, both in appearance and texture.

The most common materials for dental veneers are usually porcelain and ceramic. The latter, being a mixture of synthetic resins, is also called ” composite “. Lately, lithium disilicate and zirconium veneers are also being used, with very good results.

The most investigated veneer variants so far are porcelain and ceramic veneers, as can be deduced from the number of studies dealing with them. We recommend reviewing the numerous investigations dedicated to porcelain and ceramic dental veneers ( porcelain veneers and ceramic veneers respectively) by following this link to the investigations published on this topic on the official website of the National Library of Medicine .

There is an interesting in vitro and in vivo study on porcelain veneers, carried out by the Faculty of Dentistry, Oral Pathology and Maxillofacial Surgery of the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium (disclosed by PubMed, a search engine for medical and scientific publications). This study, carried out over 10 years, reveals that porcelain veneers have been gaining more and more popularity, due to their aesthetically appropriate appearance, because they achieve a stronghold on the teeth, and because they do not have secondary effects. adverse effects on the health of the teeth, gums, and the mouth in general.

05 Dentist showing young woman dental veneers for her to choose from

We will not dwell further on this topic of materials and the typology of dental veneers, because we will dedicate an entire article to it.

How much do dental veneers cost?

Logically, the price of dental veneers will depend on the institution that places them, the country, the quality of the product, the extent of the dental area to be covered, whether it is teeth or molars, etc. In addition, the cost changes a lot depending on the material of the veneers. As currently two of the most globalized currencies are the US dollar (USD) and the euro (EUR), we will give the approximate prices of dental veneers in these currencies. Let’s see them in a table:

Type of dental veneerPrice in USD (each veneer)Price in EUR (each veneer)
Ceramic or Composite170 – 225$€150 – €200
Porcelain$340 – $450€300 – €400
Zirconium565 – 730$€500 – €650
Lithium Disilicate565 – 790$€500 – €700

How long do dental veneers last once fitted?

Above we have said that dental veneers are a “permanent” treatment. That statement requires precision. We say that it is a permanent treatment because, once the teeth are modified to place the veneers, they must continue to be used. But that doesn’t mean the veneers themselves are permanent.

Numerous studies have been concerned with monitoring the condition of dental veneers over time, among other things to find out how long they last once they are in place. Conclusions vary, but it is generally considered that:

  • Ceramic veneers last for a maximum of 5 or 7 years, as long as you visit the dentist regularly (1 or 2 times a year).
  • Porcelain veneers last from 5 to 7 or 10 years. With good care, a life of up to 15 years can be achieved, but basically it is considered that after 10 years these veneers should be replaced.
  • Zirconia veneers last 10-15 years if hard bites and sugary foods are avoided.
  • Lithium disilicate veneers last around 20 years and require almost no restoration.

However, to specify the duration of dental veneers, it is not only the veneers themselves that should be considered. It is necessary to consider the combination of some variables or factors. Achieving the maximum duration of dental veneers depends on:

  • That the veneers placed are of good quality, of optimal material, and that they are in perfect structural condition.
  • That the adhesive used to bond the veneers to the tooth substrate is adequate and of good quality.
  • That the person maintains correct oral hygiene according to the advice given by the dentist.
  • That the occlusion or contact between teeth (either during chewing or during the rest of the day) is natural or corrected.
  • That the adaptation of the patient to the veneers is optimal, without adverse periodontal responses.

Another important variable in this regard is the presence or absence of fillings in the teeth. Placing veneers on existing dental fillings often causes these veneers to deteriorate faster than those placed on teeth without fillings.

06 A young woman undergoing treatment at the dentist's office with dental drill

Some disadvantages of dental veneers

Usually not much is said about the disadvantages or contraindications of dental veneers. The same thing happens with this as with plastic surgery: they are usually such lucrative procedures, that those who charge for them manage to reduce the negative media information about the treatment.

Somewhere else disadvantages of dental veneers are indicated. For example, if you look at the official website of the American company Colgate, you will be able to discover some comments about the disadvantages of veneers.

But as we all know, companies related to this sector are not always the best ones to give us advice, since they have too many economic interests in this type of product to be objective in what they recommend. That is why we have opted to consider, above all, the most specialized publications.

1. An irreversible procedure

Especially if the dental veneer placement procedure is performed incorrectly, the teeth suffer scraping of up to 30% of their surface. But to some extent, this is true even if the procedure is done correctly. Veneer placement involves permanently removing the outer layer of enamel, which never regenerates on its own.

2. Tooth hypersensitivity

With the affectation of the enamel that the tooth must undergo before placing the veneer, hypersensitivity ensues. This is because the enamel protects the tooth as it does not itself have nerve endings. When the percentage of enamel is reduced, a dental sensitivity occurs to which the person is normally not used to.

3. Dental veneers do not allow home bleaching

According to a publication in the American magazine Consumer Reports, an informative body of the non-profit organization Consumers Union, dental veneers do not allow home whitening methods.

Home whitening methods are usually much cheaper than professional dental whitening methods, although they achieve a lower level of effectiveness. However, the aforementioned magazine does not recommend them at all for people who use dental veneers. So, in these cases, in the face of any need for tooth whitening, professional methods will have to be used

Dr. Helen Carmenate

Dr. Helen Carmenate

Medically reviewed by Dr. Helen Carmenate specializes in smile design and cosmetic dentistry.

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