Weighing the Pros and Cons of Lumineers
Who doesn’t dream of having a flawless Hollywood smile? Thanks to Lumineers — a less expensive, less traumatic alternative to traditional porcelain or resin laminate — transforming not-so-pretty teeth into a set worth smiling about is as easy as two visits to your dentist.
The Advantages of Lumineers
No Pain, All Gain
Lumineers are a brand of porcelain veneers that can be fitted to your existing teeth without the need to “shave down” the enamel, though some patients may still require a small amount of shaving to achieve the best result. “The main advantage of Lumineers is that your natural teeth are being preserved, and there is usually no sensitivity, compared to traditional veneer preparation techniques,” says New York cosmetic dentist Marc Lowenberg, DDS. With traditional veneers, the enamel on each tooth that will be covered must be shaved down so that the veneer won’t look and feel thick and unnatural. That scraping of the original teeth can make them more permanently sensitive to hot and cold temperatures.
Why Thinner May Be Better
Lumineers allow patients to avoid the drilling process because they’re incredibly thin — less than half the thickness of their porcelain or resin counterparts (while traditional veneers are .5 millimeters thick, Lumineers are only .2 millimeters thick). But even though they’re as thin as a contact lens, Lumineers are able to do quite a lot to create the illusion of a flawless smile, such as:
- Cover up chips in teeth
- Correct appearance and bite of crooked teeth
- Fill in gaps between teeth
- Build up teeth that are worn down
- Disguise mild discoloration and yellowing
Comparing Lumineers to Traditional Veneers
Made of Cerinate porcelain, Lumineers resist micro-leakage and micro-cracking more so than traditional porcelain veneers, and, unlike other veneers, you won't need to wear temporaries while waiting for your permanents to be created.
Lumineers last just as long as traditional porcelain veneers (10 to 15 years), yet are reversible since the original tooth is still intact. Fitting requires two pain-free visits, with a mold of your teeth made on the first visit, and the second consisting of fitting, attaching and making sure the size, shape and color are ideal. Besides the ease of creating a beautiful smile, Lumineers are often the makeover tool of choice because of their cost — $700-$1,000 per tooth as compared to an estimated $800-$1,300 for porcelain veneers.
The Disadvantages of Lumineers
What Lumineers Can’t Fix
While they can cover up mild yellowing, Lumineers often “can’t mask discolored teeth because they’re much thinner than other types of veneers, so you’re unable to build in as much depth of color to cover the existing tooth,” says Dr. Lowenberg. Controlling the final color of the Lumineer-covered tooth — and matching it to other teeth — may also be a challenge because of how thin they are.
If you have sensitive gums, they’re likely not the right fit either. “Lumineers have a thicker edge at the gum line, which can cause gingival inflammation,” he adds. “An experienced dentist will make sure this edge is perfectly smooth, but without proper blending, it’s a real possibility.”
There’s also a downside to avoiding drilling. “Because you’re not removing any of the tooth surface before applying them, teeth may appear and feel larger,” explains Lowenberg.
What to Avoid Once You Get Lumineers
Because Lumineers do have some of the same drawbacks as traditional veneers, it’s important to remember the following:
- Lumineers are not repairable, so if they’re chipped or cracked, new ones will need to be purchased.
- Clenching and grinding teeth can cause cracking and chipping, even though Lumineers hold up better than porcelain or resin.
- Lumineers can be loosened or completely dislodged if there’s excessive pressure put on the teeth (for example, nail-biting or chewing on hard objects).
- The color of Lumineers can’t be lightened (or darkened), so make sure to whiten teeth prior to having them put on teeth.