Do you remember the "30 Rock" episode where Liz Lemon asks Tracy Jordan,
"How do you know I'm not rich?"
"Your teeth," answers Tracy.
Veneers are one way celebrities make their smile look great on camera. So for those of us who spend less time on camera, what should we consider when thinking about veneers?
Before we dive into this, let's address the elephant in the room. What are veneers?
Veneers are thin, custom-crafted shells that cover the front of your teeth. Your dentist will take impressions or a scan of your teeth and send it to a lab. At the lab, a technician will craft veneers to fit over your teeth so that when they are placed, your teeth will look picture perfect.
There are two types of veneers:
- Composite resin
So what is the difference?
Porcelain versus composite veneers
Porcelain veneers are made from, well, porcelain. The material is great for your teeth because (a) it looks like a tooth, and (b) it doesn't stain. They are also quite durable, usually lasting 10-15 years or even longer before you need a replacement.
Composite resin veneers are more affordable than porcelain. They are also easier to place on your teeth because your dentist doesn't need to remove the same amount of enamel that is needed for porcelain veneers. However, composite veneers can stain and they aren't as hearty, lasting 5-7 years before you need a replacement.
Should I get veneers if I don't like the color of my teeth?
Pro/con lists are awesome. So let's put veneers through the list test. What is in the pro column for veneers?
- Since your teeth will be covered, you'll get a brighter, whiter smile instantly!
- If there are other details you don't like about your teeth, like chips, cracks, or gaps, veneers cover those up too
- If your enamel is weak or damaged, veneers can help you restore the hard shell of your teeth
Now time for the flip side - what are the cons of getting veneers?
- They are expensive. A single veneer can cost over a grand depending on the tooth and material you use.
- Veneers can cause or increase sensitivity on your teeth. Right after your veneers are placed, it's common to feel sensitivity that goes away after a few days. But in many cases sensitivity can become permanent, requiring the right at-home oral care products to keep your sensitivity in check.
- Getting veneers is an irreversible decision. Your dentist changes the structure of your natural teeth when they place the veneers (aka shaving down your enamel).
- They don't last forever; The average lifespan of veneers is about 10 years.
If you've weighed the pros and cons of veneers and are ready to take the next steps, you'll want to make sure your mouth is ready for those veneers:
- Make sure your teeth and gums are healthy before you get veneers. If you have any decay or disease you can work with your dentist to get your mouth in top shape.
- If you grind or clench your teeth, you'll want to consult with your dentist if a night guard will be enough to protect veneers. The sheer force of your jaw can crack or break the thin shell of veneers if you don't take steps to protect them.
How much do veneers cost?
A lot. Veneers are not the most economical approach to whitening your teeth. A porcelain veneer in NYC might cost you $2,800. A resin composite veneer is much more affordable, coming in around $1,250 in the Big Apple.
Teeth whitening for crowns and veneers?
If your veneers are made from porcelain, they won't stain or change color on you. It's like a porcelain tea cup - as long as you keep it clean it will look the same as the day you got it. But if your veneers are made from composite resin you can get surface stains from foods and drinks that stain (coffee, tea, red wine… you know, the good stuff).
That's why, if you decide to get veneers, it's important to get them in the shade you want your teeth to be, not the color your teeth are today. "When patients come in to get veneers, I set aside time to chat with them about their desired shade of their smile," says Wally hygienist, Iman Zayed, RDH. "There is a misperception that veneers will fade / whiten along with natural teeth. So I always pull out the shade guide to show them where their teeth are today to make sure those veneers are in the right shade."
So you got your veneers and love them? That's awesome! The best way to keep them looking superb is to treat them like you treat your regular teeth! Minimize the bacteria and acidity on your veneers like you do with your regular teeth and they'll stay as happy as you.
Check out "Teeth bleaching and other ways to whiten your teeth" for everything you need to whiten your teeth safely and effectively.