Which Type Of Veneers Is Right For You?
Veneers are an increasingly popular solution for patients who want a cosmetic smile makeover. Placing a thin layer of dental restoration material over the front surface of each visible tooth is a quick way to correct many minor flaws. Veneers cover up a variety of tooth imperfections including:
- Chipped edges
- Shallow cracks
- Gaps between teeth
- Permanent stains
- Misshapen or short teeth
There are currently a number of different veneers that can be used for aesthetic dental treatment. Here’s an overview of each type of veneers and the pros and cons of treatment.
This material is generally considered the most versatile option for patients who want a smile makeover. Porcelain can be very precisely color matched to surrounding teeth if only one or two veneers are needed. It is also available in pearly white shades for patients who want a full set of brilliant white veneers on all their visible teeth. The porcelain is thick enough to provide a natural, layered translucent look that is virtually indistinguishable from real enamel. These veneers can also be made opaque enough to cover up grey, brown and yellow discoloration on the underlying tooth surface. At the same time, today’s porcelain veneers are thin enough to be placed with minimal removal of healthy tooth structure.
Lumineers (and Other Prepless Veneers)
These are often called “no-prep” veneers. They are thinner than traditional porcelain veneers and may occasionally be placed without removal of enamel. However, this depends on the individual patient. The ultra-thin nature of Lumineers means they may not conceal yellowing of the enamel. So, a dentist may recommend sanding down a thin layer of the enamel to remove surface discoloration. Or, if a tooth is rotated at a slight angle, it may need to be shaved down on one side to make the Lumineer lie flat. However, these veneers are associated with less prep than traditional veneers. This may reduce the chances of tooth sensitivity during and after the procedure.
If the Lumineers can be placed without removal of any enamel, they are reversible. Traditional porcelain veneers are not – they must be replaced if one comes off. At the same time, Lumineers that are placed without prep may make your teeth feel slightly thicker. Regular porcelain just builds the tooth back up by the amount of enamel removed. Lumineers add a small amount of bulk on top of existing enamel. Most patients get used to how this feels over time. However, it’s important to consider how the placement of these veneers may change your bite from a functional standpoint.
Lumineers are sometimes associated with gum irritation along the upper margin since the edge of the veneer does not merge completely seamlessly with the gum. In contrast, porcelain veneers can be polished down to a very smooth edge along the gum line, reducing the chances of irritation.
Composite resin that is used to make tooth-colored fillings can also be built onto the tooth in layers to create veneers. The cost is much lower than for porcelain veneers. Typically, composite veneers are used to build up teeth that are chipped, misshapen or too small. This means there is usually little or no enamel prep required for placement unless a shallow cavity is being filled at the same time.
A composite veneer is created in a single visit since there is no wait time for fabrication. If the veneer is damaged, it can be repaired (porcelain veneers must be replaced if they are damaged). The material is not as long-lasting as porcelain and may stain over time. In addition, the resin tends to have a less realistic appearance than ceramic veneers. The tradeoff is cost and convenience vs. aesthetics and durability with this material. If you aren’t sure what you want your final smile makeover to look like, or if you can’t currently afford porcelain veneers or Lumineers, resin may serve as a viable alternative that will last several years.
Acrylic veneers are usually only used as temporary veneers for adult patients. For example, you might have temporary acrylics placed while you are waiting for your custom fabricated porcelain veneers to arrive. However, acrylic veneers may be suitable for young patients who need cosmetic correction of baby teeth. The material is not very sturdy, so it is not recommended for long term restoration.