A common question patients have when installing dental porcelain veneers is whether this smile transformation procedure will ruin their teeth. That is a valid concern, since dental veneers involve removing some natural tooth enamel, a substance on our teeth that acts as a protective barrier against acid and bacteria. When enamel is lacking due to damage or decay, our teeth become more sensitive — which explains why we experience sensitivity when eating hot and/or cold food.
The answer is no, dental veneers will not ruin your natural teeth as long as they are installed properly and you upkeep proper dental hygiene. We also try to keep the amount of enamel removed as low as possible. But there are certain factors that can cause your veneers to break down, which will in turn affect your teeth.
Are veneers suitable for everyone?
Veneers are thin porcelain shells placed over your teeth to change the shape, size and colour of your teeth. They are commonly made from either ceramic or porcelain. You are a perfect candidate for porcelain veneers if:
- Your teeth are stained to the extent that teeth whitening treatments no longer work, or you just prefer a teeth whitening option that requires less maintenance.
- You have gaps in your teeth that are not more than 1-3 mm. Anything more than that, you might want to consider Invisalign instead.
- Your teeth are worn down from grinding.
- Your teeth are chipped or damaged due to injury or trauma.
- You have slightly crooked teeth.
However, do take note that veneers only act as aesthetic cover ups and do not carry any functional use. In other words, they do not actually straighten your teeth or close the gap in your teeth; they merely give the impression that you have straight, healthy teeth. So with that said, dental veneers like porcelain veneers are a poor option if you suffer from gum disease, have weak teeth or other underlying dental issues. They are also not suitable if you tend to grind your teeth repeatedly.
Not sure whether to get veneers or crowns? This article on dental veneers vs. dental crowns might help.
Can I still get cavities with porcelain veneers?
Yes, it is possible that you can still get cavities even with porcelain veneers. There are a few reasons why.
- Veneers only cover the front part of a tooth, so the tooth’s back side still remains exposed to bacteria and plaque.
- You do not floss and brush properly, causing decay to form around and under the veneer. This is made worse if your diet is high in sugar and refined carbohydrates.
- If your veneer was not bonded properly, bacteria can grow and spread around it, affecting your natural teeth.
- As mentioned, porcelain veneers do not cure teeth of pre-existing problems like decay, gum disease and weakened dental enamel. Being on long-term medication with side effects like dry mouth may also greatly increase the risk of cavities in veneer-supporting teeth.
How can I prevent cavities with porcelain veneers?
The best way to take care of your teeth and veneers is to ensure excellent oral hygiene. That includes:
Brushing twice a day and flossing regularly
Ideally, you should floss or rinse your mouth after every meal to get rid of food debris stuck between your teeth. Make sure to brush for two minutes each time and do not neglect the backs or area along the gum line. A manual toothbrush is fine, but it’d be better if you can get an electric toothbrush as it’s easier to reach harder-to-reach areas with an electric toothbrush.
Avoid hard, sticky food or food that stain
These include nuts, bones, raw vegetables like carrots (hard food), candy (sticky food) and coffee, tea, wine and tomatoes (staining food). Even chewing on ice is a no-no! In the same vein, you should not use your teeth as a tool to open bottles or anything that involves biting down.
Avoid grinding your teeth
Grinding your teeth can damage porcelain veneers, leaving you susceptible to decay. Generally it’s not advisable for those with bruxism to get this restoration, but if you must, get a night guard from your dentist.
Visit your dentist every 6 months
We encourage everyone to visit their dentist every 6 months for a through cleaning session; this is especially important if you have veneers. You should also get your dental veneers done by a cosmetic dentist who has a good track record. Don’t be afraid to ask your dentist for pictures, their past veneer cases and if this procedure is even suitable for you to begin with. A good dentist should be someone who cares about your oral health and appearance instead of merely trying to sell you a service.
Have more questions? Read about how dental veneers are made to match our face and teeth.
- Jordan A. (2015). Clinical aspects of porcelain laminate veneers: considerations in treatment planning and preparation design. Journal of the California Dental Association, 43(4), 199–202.
- Burke F. J. (2012). Survival rates for porcelain laminate veneers with special reference to the effect of preparation in dentin: a literature review. Journal of esthetic and restorative dentistry : official publication of the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry … [et al.], 24(4), 257–265. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1708-8240.2012.00517.x