Dental veneers are basically thin shells that are applied to the front of your teeth, making them look even and undamaged. They can disguise imperfections in your teeth and improve the appearance of your smile by improving shape and color.
One important factor to keep in mind when deciding whether to go with veneers is how long they typically last. In this article, we’ll help answer that question and also look at what can affect the lifespan of dental veneers.
The most common types of veneers are porcelain veneers or composite veneers. Porcelain veneers are considered the gold standard, as they last the longest and look the most realistic. Real teeth are made with layers of enamel and these types of veneers are made with thin layers of porcelain, giving them a natural appearance. Composite veneers are made with resin and they are less expensive than porcelain veneers, but don’t last quite as long and aren’t quite as realistic/can dull quicker over time requiring additional polishing sessions along the way.
How Long Do Veneers Last?
As with any dental restoration, we can offer average lifespans to help you know what to expect, but your results may vary. Here’s how long each type of veneer usually lasts:
- Porcelain veneers – The average lifespan of porcelain veneers is 10 years, but it’s not uncommon for them to last up to 20 years with good care and maintenance.
- Composite veneers – Composite veneers last an average of 5-10 years. Their lifespan is shorter because, unlike porcelain veneers, they can stain over time, and the material they’re made from isn’t as durable and therefore, higher maintenance.
How Are Veneers Applied?
Composite veneers are usually applied in one to two appointments, while porcelain veneers take two dental visits minimum. Here is what to expect during the process if you get porcelain veneers:
- Your dentist will grind down approximately half a millimeter of your tooth’s enamel to roughen the surface of your tooth so it can bond successfully with a veneer.
- Your dentist will make an impression of your tooth and send it away to make a permanent veneer, which takes about four to six weeks.
Although porcelain veneers are more costly, they are more stain-resistant and can be more natural-looking than composite veneers. On the flip side, composite veneers are thinner, requiring less tooth surface to be removed before they are applied.
Is It A Bad Idea To Veneer Healthy Teeth?
This is a good place to start our journey into looking at dental veneers, should you have them in the first place, and should they be used over healthy teeth?
There is always a balance in dentistry, balancing the health of your teeth and gums with how you look. Ideally, most dentists would want to maintain as much natural healthy tooth structure as possible, however, in some circumstances, teeth require improvements in color or shape that bleaching and orthodontic care can’t address (such as with tetracycline staining or congenitally undersized teeth).
Generally speaking, dental veneers require 0.5 mm of reduction in order to accept the new custom-made veneer. This is a very small amount but if your natural teeth have already begun to wear this may go all the way through the enamel and into the softer dentin underneath.
Veneers are ideally done on teeth where the porcelain can meet enamel only, which will yield the strongest bond. If dentin is exposed circumferentially, a crown or partial crown may be a better option.
Dental veneers may also fracture, if this happens the veneer will need to be completely removed and manufactured again.
For these reasons it is best to err on the side of caution and leave natural teeth as they are… Unless they cause you concern due to the way they look.
This is when the balance tips the other way, if the benefits of having a new, bright and fresh smile outweigh any of the downsides of having a natural tooth surface removed.
Veneers are then absolutely the right thing to do.
Who is a good candidate for veneers?
If you’ve been frowning at your smile in the mirror, you may be wondering if dental veneers are the right choice for you. They’re not the best solution for seriously damaged teeth. Crowns are probably a better option for those situations. But veneers may be a good option if your teeth are:
You’ll also want to find out from your dentist if veneers are covered by insurance. Depending on the situation, veneers may be considered an elective cosmetic treatment. If that’s the case, insurance won’t cover a portion of the cost.
Talk to your dentist about the best options for you, your budget, and the look you want to achieve. You may even want to ask if there’s a way to see a digital mock-up of what your smile might look like with veneers (we do this at All Smiles!).
Do veneers last longer than crowns?
Depending on the state of your teeth, you may be wondering about the benefits of veneers versus the benefits of crowns. The health and remaining amount of underlying tooth usually determine if someone is a candidate for a crown vs a veneer. The more destruction the tooth has undergone (decay, root canals, large fractures, etc…), the more likely the tooth will require full coverage of a crown. This means front and back, not just the front like a veneer.
Crowns tend to be thicker than veneers. They’re 1.5 millimeters, compared to about 0.5-1 millimeter for veneers. Since they cover more of your tooth than a veneer, less of the tooth is exposed to new decay. Veneers only cover the front of your tooth and are most often applied to the front six to eight teeth.
The lifespan of a crown is similar to a veneer if well cared for.
How Can I Take Care of My Veneers Longer?
Don’t use your teeth as tools! Opening packages, biting their nails, tearing tough foods like licorice or beef jerky, and biting off fishing lines are all examples of how patients use their teeth like a tool. This is absolutely contraindicated when veneers are present (and highly frowned upon in general, even with healthy teeth). How can you get the most out of your veneers? Having healthy teeth, to begin with, help, and good dental hygiene is even more important. You’ll need to brush for two minutes twice a day and floss well at least once a day. See your dentist every six months for professional dental cleanings.
If you’re active in sports, wear a mouthguard to protect your veneers. Similarly, if you clench your jaw or grind your teeth at night, you’ll need a night guard to protect your veneers from becoming damaged.
All Smiles Family Dentistry in Omaha, NE
At All Smiles Family Dentistry, we are proud to provide high-quality care to all our patients both young and old thanks to our compassionate and experienced dental team. We offer a clean and comfortable clinic to help you feel relaxed during your visit. Contact All Smiles Family Dentist.