A bright smile is crucial for self-confidence, and veneers offer a permanent solution for discoloration or misshapen teeth. Learn everything you need to know about getting veneers and transform your smile confidently.
What are veneers?
“Veneers can be a thin shell of lab-fabricated composite or porcelain used to enhance aesthetics,” said Dr. Fatima Khan, a dentist in Houston, TX, and the co-founder of Riven Oral Care. “They enhance your smile and are recommended for people who are not happy with the color, space, shape, misalignment, or size of their teeth.”
Veneers, which only attach to the front teeth, are not the same as dental crowns, which cover the entire tooth.
The process of getting veneers might cause some sensitivity, but many times, the dentist can give a local anesthetic to ease any discomfort. Once the procedure is finished, there should be no pain post-operation.
You don’t have to get veneers on all of your teeth. Depending on your unique teeth, you can get a single veneer for one bothersome tooth, one with tooth decay, or just the top teeth that are on display when you smile.
Types of veneers
There are a few types of veneers: direct composite veneers, indirect composite veneers, and porcelain veneers.
Direct Composite Veneers
Direct composite resin veneers are the cheapest form of veneers. Due to their lower cost and one-day procedure, direct composite veneers do not last as long as other options, typically lasting only five to seven years.
“The dentist will use composite resin and bond it to your tooth and shape and design it themselves to meet your aesthetic goals,” explained Dr. Khan about the process. “However, this material tends to be weaker, composite can fracture more easily, and teeth can stain faster than indirect composite veneers or porcelain veneers.”
Indirect Composite Veneers
Involving multiple visits to the dentist, indirect composite veneers are fabricated in a lab.
“In the initial visit, the dentist may decide to remove a thin amount of enamel, take an impression for the lab, have the lab process the composite veneer, and bring the patient back to bond the veneer,” explained Dr. Khan.
On average, indirect composite veneers will last from seven to 10 years with proper care and regular checkup visits. They also have better shade and translucency compared to direct composite veneers.
“The superior option will always be porcelain veneers due to enhanced cosmetic goals, strength, and longevity,” said Dr. Khan. Lasting from 15 to 20 years, essentially permanent porcelain veneers are the gold standard.
Does insurance cover veneers?
The simple answer is no, insurance does not cover veneers.
“Veneers are generally not covered by insurance as they are cosmetic treatments,” explained Dr. Kenneth Magid, a cosmetic dentist at Advanced Dentistry Of Westchester.
While dental insurance plans will not cover veneers as a qualified medical expense in most cases since they’re considered a cosmetic procedure, they may sometimes be covered. Dr. Magid added, “In some cases where the teeth have certain failing fillings or decay, they may be covered, but that is not common.”
How much do veneers cost?
Numerous factors go into the cost of veneers. One of the first factors for price would be what type of veneer you get. Another addition to the total cost depends on whether the dentist doing the procedure uses an outside lab to craft the indirect composite veneers; these will typically be associated with larger fees. Geographical location will also be a factor. Dr. Magid said, “Veneers in Manhattan are significantly more expensive than veneers in the suburbs.”
In general, the average price of veneers is based on the number of veneers a patient receives. Dr. Khan explained, “The fees can range from $250-1,500 per tooth for composite veneers and $1,000-2,500 per tooth for porcelain.”
This means that a full mouth or full set of veneers (around twenty veneers depending on the number of teeth shown when you smile) could range from an overall cost of $20,000 to $50,000.
“If cost is your issue and you want an indirect composite veneer, you can try going to a dental school,” suggested Dr. Khan. “It will take longer to have the treatment done, but it will be supervised under a licensed dentist.”
Additional costs related to veneers
There may be some additional costs associated with your veneers. While many initial consultations may be free, dentists will sometimes charge for these or tooth preparation and bonding, which the dental care team should discuss with you during the consultation.
“Additional costs may be needed for things like modification of the gums,” said Dr. Magid. “For a beautiful final smile, not only do the teeth need to be attractive, but the surrounding soft tissue also needs to be harmonious and provide the correct proportions.”
If one of your veneers ever becomes damaged for some reason, there will be touch-up and replacement costs to consider as well.
Dr. Irina Kessler, a partner of New York Family Dental Arts on the Upper East Side who specializes in cosmetic dentistry, explained what it takes to keep veneers in their best shape. “Patients with veneers should practice excellent dental hygiene at home (brushing and flossing daily and regular dental cleanings). With proper oral health care, veneers can last 10-15 years and need to be replaced as the margins of the tissue change over time.”
What to expect when getting dental veneers
Dr. Magid walked us through the steps of a patient getting veneers at his dental office in Westchester County. Before this process, you should have had a consultation to see if you’re a good candidate and to get information about the procedure to ensure veneers are right for you.
Create the smile you want
“A smile makeover puts the patient in control of the process and ensures there are no unhappy surprises,” Dr Magid explained. “We start with a full-face photo of the patient, which our lab alters to show what the final smile will look like.”
The patient will then look at the photo and decide if they’re happy with the final result or if they want changes. After the patient is happy with their smile, the case is mocked up with a digital model or wax model for another layer to ensure the final result will be correct.
Prepping the teeth for veneers
First, the teeth are prepared to receive the veneers, which means they are cleaned, a small amount of enamel is removed to adhere better to the veneers, and a final impression of the teeth is taken. During this time, Dr. Magid says he does any necessary soft tissue modification.
“The patient then receives temporary restorations that look just like the proposed final restorations,” Dr Magid said. “The patient goes home and spends a day or two living with the temporary restorations.”
This also allows the patient to get used to life with veneers. They can interact with family and friends during this time and see the reception of their new look. This also allows them to make any other adjustments to the final product if needed. For example, maybe their close family thinks the white shade is too unnatural, so they opt for something more natural. It is also important to make sure the temporary veneers do not alter the patient’s speech.
“Once the patient loves their new look, photos and models are taken to be sent to the ceramist to duplicate in the final veneers,” stated Dr. Magid. In some cases, patients can even go to the labs and work with the lab technician to choose the correct shading for the veneer. Veneers can have different shades chosen for different parts of the veneer.
Veneer creation in the lab
It will take around one to three weeks for the lab to finish the final veers. Once this process is complete, temporary veneers are removed, and the final veneers are tried on before being bonded so that they can once again approve the final look. These should be the same as the temporary ones, but they will be shinier and have a better depth of color and translucency. It is important to check how the veneers look in both natural lighting and artificial lighting.
“Once the patient approves the final result, the veneers are bonded in place,” said Dr. Magid.
“No chance of unpleasant surprises or an unhappy patient in our office.” It’s important to ensure that patients will be happy with the results because once porcelain veneers are applied, there is no easy way to go back to normal teeth; rather, you’ll replace any veneers in the future.
From start to finish, this process will last around four to six weeks.
Are veneers worth it?
Veneers are a great option for cracked, damaged, or crooked teeth. However, they are quite expensive and do not address the underlying dental issues. If the underlying orthodontic issue is not corrected, veneers may not have the longevity that the patient is hoping for.
Can you whiten veneers?
Porcelain veneers do not respond well to traditional teeth whitening procedures, but your dentist may be able to refinish them with porcelain glaze. If a patient whitens their teeth, it is important to whiten their teeth prior to picking out the shade of veneers so they will match.
Can you eat with veneers?
Most foods are safe to consume with veneers, but you should be careful with hard foods, such as apples, raw carrots, and bone-in meats.