The secret behind many celebrity smiles, dental veneers have become one of the most popular cosmetic dentistry treatments in Australia for people who want to change something about their teeth.
Your dentist might suggest veneers as an option if you want to whiten, straighten, lengthen or reshape teeth, close small gaps or make other cosmetic improvements to your smile. However, it's important that they also explain the possible risks involved so you can make a fully informed decision about your treatment.
Unlike some other cosmetic dental options, such as teeth whitening, veneers can be a permanent treatment and a big investment, so it's important to do your research before making your decision. Read this guide to find out:
- How do veneers work?
- What are the pros and cons of veneers?
- Who can have veneers?
- Are there any side effects?
- Do veneers hurt?
- How to avoid problems
- Are veneers worth it?
- What are the alternatives?
How do veneers work?
Dental veneers are thin layers of porcelain or composite resin that replace the existing surface of teeth to change how they look.
Veneers may be an option for:
- whitening stained or discoloured teeth
- straightening slightly crooked or misshapen teeth
- covering minor chips or cracks
- closing gaps between teeth
Porcelain veneers cost more than composite, but they are also stronger, more resistant to stains and generally last longer, as well as looking more lifelike.
On the downside, the process to fit porcelain veneers can sometimes require several visits, as these veneers need to be custom made in a dental laboratory. Same day porcelain veneers may be possible if your dental clinic uses CEREC technology.
For composite veneers, resin is applied directly to the teeth, so the procedure can usually be completed in a single visit.
Whichever type of veneers you choose, your dentist may need to remove some tooth enamel so your veneers can fit comfortably, depending on the shape, size and condition of your teeth.
Having veneers shouldn't affect your ability to eat and speak, but your dentist may advise that you avoid some hard foods and activities that could risk damaging your veneers.
What are the pros and cons of veneers?
Veneers are a flexible cosmetic treatment that can address a range of issues, but they're not the best option for everyone. You should weigh the pros and cons of veneers against other procedures when deciding what's the right choice for you.
- Immediate transformation of your smile
- Last longer than teeth bleaching treatments for white teeth, as long as you avoid stains
- Require less preparation of the tooth than placing a crown
- More comfortable and convenient than orthodontics for straightening teeth
- May require permanent alteration of your teeth
- May cause tooth sensitivity
- May cost more than the alternatives
- Not suitable for everyone
Who can have veneers?
Your dentist will let you know whether you're a suitable candidate for veneers when they examine your mouth.
- Your teeth and gums should be healthy before veneers can be placed, or there's a chance of the veneers coming loose. Any problems such as tooth decay or gum disease will need to be treated and your mouth will need time to recover fully before veneers can be fitted.
- Your teeth should be a suitable size and the enamel not too thin to support veneers.
- You won't be eligible for veneers if you grind or clench your teeth (bruxism), as this can damage the veneers.
Are there any side effects?
The risks of veneer treatment are low if your treatment is carefully planned and provided by a qualified and experienced dentist, but your dentist will still make sure you know the possible complications.
- Teeth can sometimes feel more sensitive to temperature after they are prepared for veneers, but this usually only lasts for a few days.
- Veneers that are poorly placed or dislodge may cause a misaligned bite, which can lead to jaw pain.
Do veneers hurt?
Like other dental treatments, the veneers procedure is carried out under local anaesthetic, which numbs the mouth so you won't feel any pain. Your dentist may offer other sedation options if you need them.
After your veneers are fitted, your mouth may feel sore for a few days as it recovers and you get used to how your veneers feel. If pain or discomfort lasts for longer than a few days or is severe, you should see your dentist right away.
How to avoid problems
Even strong porcelain veneers aren't invincible, and they can be damaged or dislodged in accidents just like natural teeth. But you can minimise the risk of problems with your veneers through:
- Careful planning
- Proper care
- Choosing an experienced cosmetic dentist
A consultation with a dentist is an important first stage of the veneers process, as this could help you to decide whether veneers are right for you.
Your dentist will let you know if a condition such as gum disease, bruxism or thin enamel means you are unsuitable for veneers. If this issue can be corrected, they will let you know what steps to take.
If you are a candidate for veneers and decide to go ahead, your dentist will help you to set realistic expectations for your treatment outcome and discuss any concerns you may have.
To design your custom veneers, your dentist will take images of your mouth and impressions of your bite to make sure they're a perfect fit. They will also double check the size and fit of veneers before bonding them to your teeth.
Porcelain veneers can last from 7 to 15 years or longer with good care, while composite resin veneers last 5 to 7 years on average. You can help your veneers to last for longer before they need replacement by following your dentist's advice and giving them the care they need.
Veneers don't require special care themselves, but it's important to maintain good oral hygiene through brushing, flossing and a healthy diet so that the underlying tooth doesn't decay and the surrounding gum isn't affected by gum disease. These conditions can cause veneers to come loose.
You should also try to avoid biting anything very hard – including hard foods and non-food objects such as fingernails – as this could chip veneers, especially softer composite veneers. These veneers are also easier to stain than porcelain, so take care around coffee, red wine and other common sources of tooth stains.
If a veneer does get damaged, it may be possible to repair a composite veneer, but a porcelain veneer will need to be replaced. Make an emergency appointment at the dental clinic if a veneer gets chipped, cracked or lost.
Choosing an experienced cosmetic dentist
Many dentists in Australia now offer veneers among their services, but not all have the same level of expertise with cosmetic dentistry. Veneers are not a one-size-fits-all treatment, and they require knowledge of aesthetics as well as oral health to help you achieve your goals.
To lower the risk of problems and disappointing results, you should ask your dentist about their experience designing and placing veneers or research other dentists near you who offer the treatment. If your dentist doesn't offer veneers, they may refer you to a trustworthy provider.
Your cosmetic dentist should be able to provide before and after images of former patients and answer any questions you have to help put your mind at ease. You should also feel confident that they understand what you hope to get from the treatment.
Are veneers worth it?
Veneers can be more expensive than other treatments to whiten or straighten teeth, but they can also offer much faster or longer lasting results, without the need for regular appointments with your dentist.
The cost of veneers varies depending on a number of factors, including:
- how many teeth are being covered
- how much preparation is needed
- the type and brand of veneers
- your location
Porcelain veneers cost more than composite veneers, but they offer superior aesthetics and durability and are likely to last longer. Keep in mind that your veneers will likely need to be replaced after a number of years if you want to maintain your smile.
As a cosmetic treatment, veneers are not usually covered by dental or health insurance, but your dentist may offer flexible payment plans to help you manage the cost.
What are the alternatives?
Possible alternatives to veneers depend on what changes you want to make to your smile.
- To cover teeth stains or discolouration, teeth whitening provided by a dentist or at home can be more affordable, but the results are only temporary and bleaching gels are not effective for all teeth or dental restorations.
- To cover minor chips, cracks or gaps, composite bonding can be a more affordable alternative to placing a veneer, but this is more likely to chip and stain than porcelain.
- For more extensive repairs or reshaping, a porcelain crown fitted over a tooth can also improve its strength.
- If more teeth straightening is needed than veneers can achieve, your dentist may discuss orthodontics using braces or aligners, though these are longer-term treatments.
Several different treatments may be used together for a smile makeover. Your dentist will make sure you understand the possible risks and costs involved for all treatments so you'll be free to decide what's best for you.
Book a consultation for veneers in Brisbane
If you're interested in veneers, book an initial consultation with our experienced cosmetic dentists in Brisbane so we can discuss your options.
Healthdirect. Veneers [Online] 2020 [Accessed April 2021] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/veneers
Canadian Dental Association. Bonding & Veneers [Online] 2009 [Accessed April 2021] Available from: http://www.cda-adc.ca/en/oral_health/procedures/bonding_veneers/