Veneers are a lifelong commitment and require careful consideration.

3-minute read

Dental veneers are one of the most popular smile makeover treatments around, allowing people to make aesthetic changes to their smiles. But there’s more than just the cost to consider when deciding whether veneers are the right treatment option for you.

Unlike non-invasive treatments such as teeth whitening or bonding, veneers may require permanent alteration of tooth surfaces, depending on whether you choose composite or porcelain veneers and what issues you want the dentist to address. Your dentist will explain what the procedure involves and what to expect so you can make a fully informed decision.

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What are dental veneers?

Porcelain veneers

Dental veneers are thin layers of porcelain, composite resin or other materials applied to the front surfaces of teeth (usually the most prominent upper teeth) by a dentist. They are carefully designed to look like natural teeth while addressing aesthetic issues the patient is not happy with in the underlying teeth.

Issues that may be addressed with veneers include:

  • Teeth stains or discolouration that can’t be treated with tooth whitening
  • Minor chips or cracks that don’t affect the tooth’s integrity
  • Short, crooked or irregular teeth
  • Spaces between teeth

To be a suitable candidate for veneers, you must:

  • have enough tooth surface for veneers to be bonded to
  • not grind or clench your teeth
  • be free from tooth decay and gum disease
  • have no large restorations (such as a root canal) that have reduced enamel and weakened teeth

Types of veneers

  • Porcelain veneers – porcelain is ceramic glass and is strong and long-lasting. Porcelain veneers are a close match to natural tooth enamel, but they also cost more than composite resin and involve some tooth preparation (shaving down of tooth enamel).
  • Composite veneers – composite resin is a combination of plastic and powdered glass. These veneers are slightly more opaque than porcelain and can be prone to damage and stains, but they’re more affordable and involve a shorter and less invasive treatment.

Are veneers permanent?

Veneers themselves can last for a number of years after they are placed, but they will need to be replaced eventually, regardless of the material they are made from. Porcelain veneers tend to last for 10 to 15 years and composite veneers for 5 to 7 years, depending on how well you care for them and if you avoid damage.

What makes veneers permanent is the preparation of the tooth required before they can be bonded into place. Porcelain veneers require the dentist to remove a thin layer of enamel and roughen the tooth surface for the veneer to be bonded in place. Once the veneer is placed, it blends in smoothly with surrounding teeth. Tooth enamel will not remineralise and repair itself naturally which makes porcelain veneers irreversible.

Composite veneers on the other hand, require much less tooth preparation, if any at all. If composite veneers were to be removed and not replaced, they can be polished down and looking similar to how teeth appeared before treatment.

Are veneers reversible? Technically, the answer is no. In many cases, composite veneers can be placed without preparing the tooth however due to the bonding process, enamel cannot grow back and teeth may never appear as they did before. Got questions? Get in touch with our team today.

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How much preparation is needed for veneers?

Tooth preparation part 1

Tooth prep for veneers is minimal compared to placing a dental crown, which involves reducing the size of the tooth on all sides. To prepare teeth for veneers, your dentist may only remove a thin layer of enamel from the front surface of the tooth. This is done so the tooth doesn’t appear too bulky or unnatural-looking. The surface of the tooth is roughened to help the bonding agent adhere.

How much enamel needs to be removed depends on the type of veneers you choose and the state of the tooth. Generally speaking, porcelain veneers may require up to 0.5mm of enamel to be removed depending on the quality of porcelain used.

  • Feldspathic porcelain and IPS e.max® lithium disilicate veneers are thinner alternatives to conventional porcelain veneers and require less tooth preparation of around 0.2mm to 0.3mm of enamel.
  • Feldspathic porcelain is very thin pure glass and twice as strong as human enamel. It is considered the gold standard in aesthetics with very few lab technicians being able to fabricate them due to their complexity.
  • IPS e.max® lithium disilicate veneers are four times stronger than felspathic porcelain and are either pressed using a wax technique or milled using CAD-CAM technology. They may even be layered with feldspathic porcelain for a more lifelike appearance.
  • Composite veneers do not require any tooth preparation in a lot of cases, depending on the results you’re after.

Tooth preparation part 2

What’s involved in the treatment process?

The first step for veneers treatment is a consultation with our dentist. They will assess your suitability for veneers and explain what the procedure involves and help you decide upon whether composite veneers or porcelain veneers are right for you. Composite veneers can often be thought of as a stepping stone towards porcelain veneers down the track.

Porcelain veneers process

Porcelain veneers involve two to three appointments. First, your dentist uses digital smile design software to create your new smile. They take digital impressions for the lab technician to custom-make your veneers.

In the next appointment, we do a trial smile based on the impressions taken in the first appointment. Once you’re satisfied with how your smile looks, teeth are prepared and you’ll wear temporary veneers home while you wait between two to three weeks for your veneers to come back from the lab. The amount of reduction needed will increase with the severity of crookedness or shade change desired. In this appointment, the temporaries may be altered, and feedback sent to our lab technician to make any final changes. In your final appointment, your veneers are fitted and attached using bonding cement and polished.

Fitting a trial smile

Composite veneers process

Composite veneers can usually be completed in one appointment. If your smile design involves tooth preparation, this is done prior to a composite resin being layered onto the tooth and hardened using UV light. Depending on your smile goals, layered shades of composite can provide a better aesthetic result than mono-shade composite. Once the veneer is placed, its surface will be shaped and polished.

Caring for veneers

Once your veneers are fitted, you should avoid biting hard food or objects that could cause them to chip or crack. It’s also advised you avoid consuming food and drink that stain veneers, such as coffee, tea, red wine or alternatively, use a straw so the liquid bypasses teeth. Teeth and gums will still be susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease so it’s important to maintain a good oral hygiene routine to keep the underlying teeth and gums healthy and to help your veneers to last as long as possible.

What are the alternatives to veneers?

If you’re not a suitable candidate for veneers, or you prefer a different treatment, your dentist will explain all of your options and what they involve. Treatment recommendations will depend on what you want to change about your smile and may require more or less tooth preparation than veneers.

Alternatives may include:

  • Tooth bonding – applying composite resin to cover or restore minor areas of a tooth surface. Bonding does not usually require tooth prep.
  • Teeth whitening – chemical bleaching to remove surface stains without removing enamel. Whitening treatments need to be repeated on a regular basis and are only effective for treating stains and discolouration on the outside of the tooth.

Teeth whitening

  • Teeth straightening – orthodontics using metal braces or Invisalign® clear aligners to straighten crooked or crowded teeth or to close gaps between teeth. Teeth straightening is a minimally invasive alternative to veneers and doesn’t involve removing a layer of enamel. It is a longer treatment that can take between 6 months to 2 years to complete and a retainer is worn indefinitely to stop teeth from shifting back after braces or aligners come out.

Invisalign clear aligner treatment

  • Dental crowns – custom caps made from porcelain or other ceramic materials fitted over teeth to restore their strength or modify their appearance. Teeth must be reduced in size before crowns can be fitted and bonded in place.

Dental crown

How much do composite and porcelain veneers cost?

The cost of veneers depends on how many teeth you want to treat and the type of veneers you choose. At Kelmscott Dental, our veneer prices start from:

  • $450 per tooth for composite resin veneers
  • $1,500 per tooth for porcelain (milled e.max lithium disilicate) veneers

As a cosmetic treatment, veneer costs are not covered by private health insurance or Medicare, but we offer a choice of payment plans if you want to break your payment down into more manageable, interest-free instalments.

Book a consultation for veneers in Kelmscott

If you’re considering dental veneers, it’s important to have all the information about treatment so you can make an informed decision.

Our dentists at Kelmscott Dental are highly experienced in cosmetic dentistry treatments and we’ll make sure you know what to expect and what your options are.

To talk to our dentists or arrange a cosmetic consultation at Kelmscott Dental, call us today on (08) 9495 7999 or book online. We welcome patients from all nearby areas including Armadale and Gosnells.

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References

  1. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/veneers