What are Dental Veneers?
Dental veneers are thin shells that are placed over the front of a tooth to change its appearance. They can be used to alter the color, length, or shape of a tooth. Dental veneers are traditionally made of porcelain. A newer option is the ultra-thin type of veneers called Lumineers.
When you’re considering any dental procedure, it’s important to know the risks and weigh them against the benefits. Once you understand the procedure, then you can make your decision about whether or not to proceed. To help you in your decision-making process, we have some information about the risks and benefits of getting dental veneers at Dental Veneers: Risks and Benefits.
Please note that this page is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for qualified, individualized medical advice. You should discuss your potential dental procedure with your own dentist.
How it’s done
The placement of dental veneers requires two visits. During the first visit, impressions and other imaging is done of your teeth. These will be sent to a dental laboratory, where your veneers will be created. Next, if you’re having traditional veneers placed, local anesthesia (shots of Novocain or a similar anesthetic) will be given, and the enamel on the teeth will be shaved down by about half a millimeter. This removal of enamel is necessary because the porcelain needs to be thick enough to be strong, and this extra thickness would get in the way unless some of the natural tooth enamel is removed to make room. If the teeth look unattractive after being shaved down, temporary veneers can be placed (these are usually made of acrylic). For the placement of Lumineers, the shaving of enamel isn’t usually necessary, because they’re much thinner than porcelain. The advantage of this is that the veneers usually can later be removed without having to place another tooth covering.
On the second visit, the teeth are cleaned and any temporary veneers are removed. The tooth surfaces are etched to roughen them enough that the veneers will stick. After that, the veneers are placed one by one on the teeth for which they were designed. Light-activated cement is used to stick them permanently in place.
If, despite knowing that you will receive adequate pain control through local anesthesia, you still feel anxiety about the procedure, sedation dentistry may be an option for you.
Preparing for the procedure
Choosing your dentist
Because cosmetic dentistry is not a recognized dental specialty, if a dentist calls himself or herself a “cosmetic dentist,” it doesn’t necessarily mean much. More importantly, you want to find out whether this particular dentist has experience performing the procedure you’re interested in. It’s at least as important to find a dentist with whom you feel comfortable, who listens to you, tries to understand your goals, and answers your questions. Referrals from friends and family, especially if they’ve had the particular procedure you’re considering, can be especially valuable.
Planning for the Cost
Of course, you’ll want to know the cost of your procedure, whether insurance will cover it, and how you’ll finance it. For more, visit our Dental Veneers Cost page.
The local anesthesia takes a few hours to fully wear off after the procedure. (Any sedation that you received may wear off faster or slower, depending on the type; see the Sedation Dentistry page.) After the anesthetic wears off, there may be some soreness in the treated teeth, particularly if enamel was shaved from the teeth to make room for the veneers. The teeth may also be sensitive to hot and cold and to pressure. The soreness and sensitivity may last for several days or weeks. In most cases, these will eventually disappear and the treated teeth will feel just like your other teeth.