Quick Facts About Veneers

Average Treatment Cost: $1,200−$3,200
Procedure Time: 1-2 office visits
In/Outpatient: Outpatient
Anesthesia: Topical
Recovery Time: None
Duration of Results: 10−15 years
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What you should know

What Are Veneers

Just because you weren’t born with a beautiful smile doesn’t mean you can’t have one. In fact, many of the celebrities you see with perfect pearly whites weren’t born with them. The secret is veneers—thin porcelain shells that are permanently glued to the fronts of teeth to enhance and/or improve the smile. “They have revolutionized aesthetic dentistry,” says New York cosmetic dentist Irwin Smigel, DDS. “They are one of the most conservative treatments in cosmetic dentistry, and the results can be astonishing,” says Atlanta, GA, cosmetic dentist Ronald Goldstein, DDS.

Veneers can:

  • Give the appearance of straighter teeth
  • Close spaces
  • Fix small chips
  • Lighten discoloration
  • Change tooth shape and size
  • Widen the shape of your smile

Veneers cannot:

  • Fix teeth that are worn halfway down or more
  • Adjust the alignment of a severely crowded bite
  • Alter the shape of your gum line
  • Easily mask dark teeth with dark roots
  • Replace missing teeth

Veneers vs. Bonding

What’s a better option for you ultimately depends on your needs. “A client’s habits will greatly influence what technique is best. Certain patients whose upper and lower teeth come together at the edges may not benefit as much from bonding because the positioning of their teeth jeopardizes the longevity of the results,” says Santa Fe, NM, cosmetic dentist, Dr. Gabriel Roybal. Veneers are more durable than bonding and provide a great alternative to perfecting an offset smile. “I’ve been using veneers to treat various conditions rather than orthodontics for years. It considerably shortens treatment time and the amount of discomfort involved,” says New York City cosmetic dentist Irwin Smigel, DDS. But, cautions Atlanta, GA, cosmetic dentist Ronald Goldstein, DDS, “Orthodontics is almost always the ideal solution. Veneers are simply masking the crooked teeth underneath; they’re only addressing the problem from a cosmetic standpoint. This is why it’s important to take good care of your teeth—brushing and flossing regularly, and seeing your dentist at least every six months for a dental cleaning.” 


Veneers vs. Crowns

Veneers and crowns are both porcelain restorations, but the main difference between the two is the amount of tooth surface they cover.

Veneers, which can also be a necessary functional restoration, are applied over the entire front side of the tooth, whereas crowns encase the entire tooth, both front and back. “Veneers are less invasive while a crown requires considerable tooth reduction. Veneers are just as, if not more, aesthetically pleasing than crowns,” says New York City cosmetic dentist Irwin Smigel, DDS. 

Crowns are usually used to protect a weak tooth, restore a broken or extremely worn-down tooth, or cover a tooth with a large filling. Whichever option you choose, both porcelain restorations are custom-made to address your smile concerns.

Who they are for

Veneers are an ideal for solution for anyone:
  • with small spaces
  • with chipped teeth
  • wanting to lighten discoloration
  • who wishes to improve the shape and size of their teeth
  • who wants to widen their smile
  • who wants straighter-looking teeth

Who they are not for

If you have severely crooked teeth, orthodontics may be a more ideal solution.

What to Expect

Fitting your teeth with veneers can be performed in as few as two dental visits. At your first appointment, your dentist will shave down your teeth to make room for the veneers. While your dentist works with a lab to custom design your new restorations, temporary plastic veneers can be made for you chairside.

Pre Veneers:  Six to Nine Months Before Treatment

If your smile is full of spaces or overlapping teeth, you may want to consider orthodontics first. “I sometimes recommend orthodontic work before veneers so I don’t have to remove all the enamel. I can prep the teeth much more conservatively, keeping more of the natural tooth intact,” says New York, NY, cosmetic dentist Dr. Timothy Chase. “This gives a more aesthetic result because you're not faking it as much.”

Eight Weeks Before Treatment

Whiten your teeth professionally. This will allow you to go brighter since your natural teeth have to match your veneers to a certain degree. 

First visit: Go over what you want your new smile to look like and get an evaluation for oral health issues. Your dentist may also take some before photos. “If you're distracted by something in the picture (messy hair or lack of lipstick for example) you may have difficulty evaluating your smile properly,” says Duxbury, MA, cosmetic dentist Andrew Wiemeyer, DDS. Impressions will be made to create a prototype of your proposed veneers.

Second visit: Review with your dentist simulated images of different styles on before photos, and/or review the wax-up of your proposed veneers. If you opted for a “trial smile” it should also be ready for you to test it out and make any adjustments. Test out your trial smile and make any adjustments. “It’s kind of like trying on a dress. A trial smile is like going to the store and trying the dress on instead of looking at photos and buying it online,” says The Woodlands, TX, cosmetic dentist Guy Lewis, DDS. “Until you see that smile on yourself, it’s hard to imagine the result.” Once you decide you like it, your veneers will be copied after the trial smile. Some dentists with on-site labs combine this with the first visit.

Third visit: Preparations and impressions are made to construct your veneers. You will probably receive temporary veneers made so you will look good while your permanent veneers are being made.

Fourth visit: Your veneers should be ready for placement. You’ll try them on for one last look before they are bonded. The teeth will be etched so that the bonding material sets the veneers permanently in place.

Post-Treatment Care

If you want to preserve your smile for years to come, it’s important not to neglect at-home care. Without it, in-office procedures like professional dental cleanings, whitening treatments, veneers, crowns and bonding become less effective, as plaque deposits can wear down the tooth’s structure and inflame surrounding gum tissue. To keep your smile in tip-top shape, brush teeth at least twice a day (and after meals) and floss before bedtime. Once your smile is clean and healthy, at-home cosmetic treatments like whitening can be considered. Bleaching trays fitted to your teeth by your dentist allow you to whiten your smile in the privacy of your own home. Once you’ve reached a shade that you’re happy with, move on to step three: maintenance. This involves caring for the teeth and gums via proper brushing and flossing to preserve your results, along with professional cleanings every six months, and frequent at-home bleaching touch-ups when your smile is in need of a quick boost. 

How to maintain your new teeth

  • Be gentle when biting into hard foods. Try using your back teeth to avoid putting pressure on your veneers, which can cause them to crack.
  • Get yearly fluoride treatments to combat tooth decay.
  • Increase your regular professional cleanings from two annual cleanings to three or four cleanings depending on your dentist’s recommendations to maintain gum health and prevent staining in-between veneers.     
  • Avoid foods that may damage the bonding such as mints, candies and sticky foods that can lead to deterioration. Also, alcohol in oral-care products can dull veneers and even dissolve the bonding material over time. This same rule also applies to the alcohol in cocktails, so moderation is the key.

Inside Tips

  • Look for a dentist who has credentials that are relevant to veneers such as being a member of the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry or the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.
  • If you plan to whiten your teeth before getting veneers, wait a few weeks to match the new veneers. That initial brightness on the first day after professional whitening typically fades after the teeth rehydrate.
  • “Most people think it’s impossible to stain and whiten artificial restorations like crowns, veneers and dental implants, but this isn’t true,” says New York cosmetic dentist Irwin Smigel, DDS. “If you continue to pour coffee into a porcelain cup, it will discolor over time. The same theory applies to porcelain dental work, even bonding. While whitening can’t make your restorations lighter than they were originally created, they can return them to their starting shade.”
  • While all dental restorations make the smile look more youthful, each type serves its own purpose. “When a patient has minor imperfections—like staining, small gaps or wear—veneers can be bonded to the fronts of teeth,” says Dr. Irwin Smigel.
  • Trying to mask darkly stained teeth with porcelain veneers is not easy. Ask your dentist to send a picture of the color of the prepared teeth to the laboratory, so the ceramist preparing your veneers knows how much opacity to put into the porcelain as he or she fabricates them.

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