Many patients looking to change their teeth’s appearance —be it stains, gaps, chips, cracks or crookedness— often opt for veneers as a cosmetic solution. Veneers are widely known for their ability to blend in with natural teeth and their resistance to stains. Further, the process of getting veneers is a very tolerable one; patients do not require extensive teeth shaping and generally can tolerate the material of veneers well.
Most dentists estimate veneers to last about 10-20 years depending on care, and in rare cases, some claim they can last a lifetime. So how long exactly can veneers last, and what are the factors that contribute to their longevity? To get there, let’s first understand how veneers work.
A veneer is a thin strip of porcelain permanently bonded to a tooth to mask its natural shape, colour or positioning. In order for a veneer to be bonded, the tooth has to be slightly shaved down. This process is irreversible. You can choose to get one veneer or several veneers, but one veneer covers one tooth. You also have the option of getting a partial or full veneer, but this will depend on factors like your tooth’s condition, needs and budget.
On the whole, veneers are perfect for those looking for a smile makeover. However, the only drawback is that it is impossible to replicate someone else’s smile. This is because someone else’s teeth shape and size might not necessarily work for your face shape. A good dentist will know how to take whatever you dislike about your teeth and make it work for you.
Most people qualify for veneers so long as they have good oral hygiene and healthy gum tissue. Issues like mildly crooked teeth, discoloured teeth, chipped or cracked teeth can be fixed with veneers. Patients who’ve had thicker veneers done previously and want a more natural finish can opt for porcelain veneers too.
However, because veneers are part of cosmetic dentistry, they will not fix any underlying issues you have with your teeth. So if your reason for getting veneers comes from a bigger problem (i.e. decay, gum disease), it is best you get it fixed through orthodontics first.
Usually, no. Getting veneers involves a multi-step process that’s spread out over a few appointments. This process includes a consultation on what’s possible based on the patient’s needs and wants; a consensus on what the plan will be; fitting on temporary veneers made of liquid composite that act as a blueprint; moulds and X-rays and fitting in the actual custom-made veneers.
At Dental Designs, we utilise 3D scanning instead of dental moulds as the latter can be uncomfortable. Digital scans are a lot faster, comfortable and accurate. Also, because we have our own in-house lab and dedicated ceramist, the process of getting your veneers is expedited.
This will depend on the patient’s situation. But in most cases, not more than 0.5mm is shaved off — that’s roughly the thickness of a fingernail. However, if a patient has large, crooked teeth with grey discolouration for example, then a significant amount of shaving might be required to get the teeth down to the desired look. On the other hand, if a patient already has short teeth or gaps in between their teeth, then there won’t be much shaving required at all.
With proper care and maintenance, veneers can last for a very long time. But whether or not they can last forever might be a stretch. In fact, you should be wary of dentists who offer lifetime guarantees on veneers or any dental services in general, because there are just too many variables that are not under the dentist’s control, such as your lifestyle habits and oral hygiene.
With that said, there are a few steps you can take to ensure your veneers last as long as possible.
While teeth grinding is bad for all teeth, it is particularly harmful for veneers as the amount of stress caused could result in damage over time. If you have a habit of grinding your teeth especially at night during sleep, consider wearing a bite guard.
The good thing about veneers is that by themselves they do not require additional care and will not discolour over time too. However, how you care for your natural teeth will indirectly affect your veneers as well. For example, if you neglect your gum health and fail to adopt proper oral hygiene, this could cause your gums to recede. When this happens, the edge of your veneers might be obvious and thus look unnatural.
While the colour of veneers won’t be affected by staining agents, your natural teeth would. Over time, this could lead to a discrepancy between your veneers and natural teeth. In this situation, you either have 2 options — change your veneers and match them to your natural teeth, or bond veneers on your natural teeth to match your existing veneers.