The decision to invest in veneers is an important one and involves a significant investment for most patients. You’ll want to know that your investment is going to look good and also perform well over many years.
A veneer is a thin shell of porcelain or composite filling material bonded to tooth enamel. Veneers change the shape, length, colour, position and surface texture of teeth.
Enamel is a strong coating on the surface of a tooth which can be treated with an acid gel to roughen it microscopically. Special resin glues or bonding agents will bind to the roughened surface and create a very strong bond. This allows a dentist to glue on a porcelain veneer or tooth coloured filling to create changes in shape, position, length and make minor colour changes. The longevity of veneers is excellent when they are bonded entirely to enamel.
A porcelain veneer is a very strong, beautiful and lifelike restoration that will last many years, up to 20 or more. The margin of a veneer is placed on enamel with a very tight seal. In the front of the mouth it is unusual to see decay at these sites in a well-cared for mouth. Andrea says they have patients with veneers that are nearly 25 years old. The porcelain (ceramic) material is very hard, smooth and durable. It does not stain, lose its colour and is stronger than a composite resin veneer.
A veneer can need replacement for a number of reasons:
A composite veneer is a tooth coloured filling material bonded to tooth structure. They can be used with virtually no tooth preparation, making them conservative and a cost-effective option. They are placed in a single visit, based on a digital design or waxed design. The result is immediate. Composite resin veneers are more liable to wear and tear – staining, chipping, pitting and discolouration – and will not be as durable as a porcelain veneer.
Composite veneers will last 7-10 years and over this time may need some touch-up work. Expect to spend a little on maintenance of composite veneers.
Yes, it is highly likely your veneers will need to be replaced at some stage over your lifetime, especially if you start at a young age with veneers. When it is time to replace them, they are polished off by your dentist, re-prepared and redone. Each time they are replaced a small amount of enamel will be removed and sometimes old veneers may need to be replaced with crowns if there is less enamel left.
Veneers can be life-changing for patients and, done in experienced hands, will last a long time.
Careful planning and good design is critical to the success of veneers. Most of all a dentist needs enamel to bond to, to allow veneers to be glued onto teeth. If there is inadequate enamel through tooth wear or acid erosion, a veneer will not be as strong, and may be liable to debond or break.
Every case needs careful assessment and a dentist skilled in veneers will do a thorough assessment of:
Choose a dentist with experience, to be assured that they will assess and design your case considering the best solution for you. The design and planning of your veneers will make a big difference to how long your veneers will last. Ask your dentist to show you cases of their own success and how they managed the failure of poorly done veneers. A good dentist will be happy to share outcomes with you.
Andrea Shepperson and her team use Digital Smile Design, a 3D planning technique to assess and design a case. Andrea is New Zealand’s only Digital Smile Design Master and Instructor and much of her work involves correcting worn bites before doing veneers, as well as straightforward cosmetic improvements.