Dentistry
Cosmetic
Product Reviews
NewMouth is reader supported. We may earn a commission if you purchase something using one of our links. Advertising Disclosure.

What Are Veneers?

Updated on May 19, 2022
Nandita Lilly
Written by Alyssa Hill
Medically Reviewed by Nandita Lilly

What Are Dental Veneers & How Do They Work?

Veneers are custom-made shells that fit over teeth to improve their appearance, protect them from damage, and create a beautiful smile. The tooth-colored shells bond to your teeth and change their length, size, color, shape, and function.

Veneers are considered a cosmetic dental procedure because they are elective, or not medically necessary. They are otherwise known as a "smile makeover."

According to Dr. Nandita Lilly, one of NewMouth's in-house dentists, "dental veneers are an excellent way to hide discolored, crooked or damaged teeth. But it's important to consider the advantages and disadvantages before getting them."

Veneers 2

Most patients opt for veneers to improve their appearance, but they also have restorative functions and protect the tooth’s surface from damage. They are a great option for patients who have tooth gaps, chips, or stains.

The procedure is relatively quick and minimally invasive. Depending on your tooth color and desired outcome, veneers are available in many different shades.

Summary

Dental veneers are custom-made solutions for discolored teeth, tooth spacing, and crooked teeth.

5 Types of Veneers

There are five common types of materials used to create a dental veneer, including:

veneer NewMouth

1. Porcelain Veneers

Porcelain is the most common material used for veneers. Porcelain veneers are tooth-colored, versatile, completely custom, and can last 10 to 15 years. They are made of ceramic materials and resist stains better than composite veneers.

The primary advantage of porcelain veneers is the procedure's conservative and minimally invasive nature. Minimal preparation is needed for successful shell placement. This is not the case for full restorative procedures like dental crowns.

To prepare a tooth for a porcelain veneer, a dentist will first select the tooth shade that best matches the neighboring teeth. Then they will reshape the tooth and take an impression so the dental laboratory can make the veneer.

A temporary veneer is placed during the first appointment. At the second appointment, the dentist will remove the temporary veneer and prepare the tooth for the porcelain veneer. They will do this by cleaning and applying an acidic material to roughen the tooth surface. This allows the veneer to stick to the tooth better.

The dentist will apply a special cement that allows the veneer to stay on the tooth. The cement is hardened with a blue-colored light. The final step is to remove any excess cement from the tooth and check the bite. A follow-up visit may be necessary after a few weeks.

dental veneer NewMouth

2. Composite Veneers

Composite veneers are an alternative to porcelain veneers. They are made of the same material used for tooth-colored cavity fillings.

These veneers differ from porcelain veneers in a few ways. For example, composite veneers may cost just $300, whereas porcelain veneers cost upwards of $1,000.

Composite veneers only take one appointment (same-day option). They are sculpted directly onto the teeth rather than in a dental laboratory. Porcelain veneers require more than one appointment.

Like porcelain veneers, composite veneers require tooth recontouring before placement and can be placed directly on uncut enamel. However, composite veneers typically last 5 to 7 years versus up to 15 years for porcelain veneers.

Composite is also more conservative than porcelain. When composite chips, the chipped area can be repaired. When porcelain chips, the entire veneer must be replaced.

3. Palatal Veneers (Palatal Onlays)

Onlays are typically used to restore posterior teeth. However, palatal veneers are a special type of onlay used to restore anterior teeth. Causes of palatal damage to anterior teeth include deep bite, bruxism, and dental erosion.

Erosion can be caused by chronic vomiting and severe acid reflux. Palatal onlays are a great solution to restore only the compromised part, leaving the rest of the teeth untouched.

4. Lumineers

Lumineers are a brand of veneers that are ultra-thin (0.2 mm) and translucent. They replicate the shape and color of natural tooth enamel, even more so than porcelain veneers.

Lumineers are so thin that they do not require tooth reduction or recontouring. They can last for over 20 years, versus 10 to 15 years for porcelain veneers.

Although convenient, they have a greater chance of chipping than traditional veneers, often resulting in a shorter lifespan.

5. Removable Veneers (Non-Permanent)

Removable veneers (custom-made snap-on) are less invasive, non-permanent, and cost less than traditional veneers. They are also removable.

Permanent veneers are irreversible because dentists have to remove part of the tooth’s enamel. Removable veneers do not require tooth reduction.

However, removable veneers can be uncomfortable, do not blend in as well with your natural teeth, and must be replaced often.

Read more about snap-on veneers.

Summary

The five types of veneers include porcelain veneerscomposite veneerspalatal veneersLumineers, and removable veneers. Porcelain is the most expensive and natural-looking option. Removable veneers are the cheapest and least natural-looking option.

Why Do People Get Veneers?

Veneers make up about 26 percent of cosmetic procedures performed by dentists. There are a few reasons why dental veneers may be chosen over other procedures. These include:

  • To change the length, color, shape, and size of teeth
  • To fix chipped, cracked, or broken teeth (from injuries, nail biting, etc.)
  • To fix white spots/streaks on teeth (typically caused by excessive fluoride use)
  • To cover up teeth stains and discoloration (from dark-colored foods, certain drugs, natural aging, etc.)

In cases of root canals, crowns or 3/4 crowns are recommended. Veneers for anterior root canal-treated teeth are not routinely performed. They are also never placed on premolars or molars.

After a root canal, a crown may be placed on the tooth to protect it from fracturing. In some cases, root canal treatment can lead to tooth discoloration over time.

A veneer or other restorative material may be placed to cover the discoloration. Veneers can also be placed on premolars, but they are rarely placed on first molars.

Summary

Veneers change the color, length, and shape of teeth. They can also be used to restore chipped, stained, or worn down teeth.

How Are Veneers Placed on Teeth?

In general, veneer placement consists of the following steps:

  1. Your dentist will remove some enamel from the front and sides of your teeth to make room for the veneer. If you are getting lumineers, the dentist will skip this step.
  2. Your dentist then makes an impression (a mold) of the prepared tooth structure.
  3. You and your dentist will decide on a veneer shade that best matches your smile so that the veneer looks natural.
  4. Your dentist will send the tooth impression to a dental lab that custom-makes the veneer to fit just right. This step can take several weeks, and your dentist will cover the teeth with temporary veneers to wear in the meantime.
  5. At your next visit, your dentist will remove the temporary veneers and place the permanent veneers on your teeth to confirm the proper fit and appearance. Your dentist will also clean your teeth before bonding the veneer.

Summary

The veneer placement process consists of five steps and two different appointments. It can also take a few weeks for your veneers to be made.

Side Effects & Risks of Veneers

Traditional veneers, such as porcelain and composite, are great options for those looking to improve their smile quickly, safely, and effectively.

As with any dental procedure, there are risks. The risks are not life-threatening, and with proper care, they can be avoided. Common conditions and side effects of veneers may include:

Tooth sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is common during the first 3 weeks after veneer placement.

If sensitivity lasts longer than 3 months, there is an underlying issue. For example, a tooth’s nerve may have been irreversibly inflamed during the procedure, causing an infection. Contact your dentist for treatment options.

Tooth damage

There is also a risk of dentin damage after veneer placement, but it is less common.

During the enamel removal process, it is possible for the underlying dentin to get damaged. A poorly fitted veneer can also change the alignment of a patient's bite, resulting in tooth sensitivity, bruxism, or jaw pain.

Future veneer replacement

People with untreated dental conditions before veneer placement, such as enamel erosion, are more at risk of veneer failure. Alternative restorations, including crowns or cosmetic bonding, are often recommended to replace a veneer.

Summary

Some side effects/risks of veneers include tooth sensitivity, irreversible tooth damage (rare), and veneer failure (also rare).

How Much Do Veneers Cost?

The cost of veneers depends on the type and how many you get:

Porcelain Veneers — $925-$2,500 (per tooth)
Composite Veneers — $250-$1,500 (per tooth)
Removable Veneers — $470-$600 (for both upper and lower teeth impressions)
Lumineers — $800-$2,000 (per tooth)
Palatal Onlays — $650-$1,200 (per tooth)

Veneers vs. Other Dental Treatments

How do veneers compare to other dental treatments?

Veneers vs. Dental Crowns

A veneer bonds to the front surface of a tooth. They are less invasive, thinner, and more brittle than crowns, which means they have a higher risk of fracture or dislodgement. They improve a patient’s appearance by changing the shape and color of teeth.

A crown covers the entire tooth. It is thicker than a veneer and requires more tooth structure removal before placement. Unlike veneers, crowns are used for restorative purposes, such as fixing severely decayed or broken teeth.

Veneers vs. Teeth Whitening

Veneers are long-lasting restorations, while at-home or professional teeth whitening is just a temporary treatment.

Since everyone has different diets, lifestyles, and habits, such as smoking, there is no way to predict how long whitening will last.

On the other hand, a veneer lasts between 5 and 15 years, depending on the type of veneer and how well you care for your teeth. Porcelain veneers resist staining from coffee, wine, and smoking.

Professional teeth whitening is a cheaper, less invasive option than veneers. Both veneers and whitening are completely safe. Veneers are permanent and cannot be removed after placement.

One reason people opt for teeth whitening is that there are a lot of affordable at-home teeth whitening options.

Veneers vs. Orthodontic Treatment

When patients have large gaps between their teeth or overcrowding, veneers resolve the issues within a few office visits.

Orthodontic treatment — such as braces or clear aligners — can take up to 18 months to fully complete, while aligners take about 20 weeks. You must also visit the office more often for check-ups while receiving orthodontic treatment.

While orthodontic treatment takes longer, it is sometimes the best option for patients, especially children. This is because braces reposition the jaw, fix a patient’s bite, and correct other oral health issues. Veneers are typically used for cosmetic reasons.

Braces are generally less expensive than dental veneers. Most veneers are at least $1,000 per tooth, and people typically get six to eight veneers. Invisalign ranges from $3,500 to $6,000, so treatment is less expensive than a full set of veneers.

Direct-to-consumer clear aligners allow you to straighten your teeth at home. These clear aligners cost less than Invisalign and can provide similar levels of treatment.

Read more about Invisalign alternatives.

Summary

Dental crowns are recommended over veneers if you have tooth decay, fractured teeth, or root-canal treated teeth. Veneers are recommended for cosmetic concerns. Teeth whitening treatment may be a better option if you only have minor tooth discoloration. Lastly, braces or clear aligners are recommended over veneers if you have severe spacing issues or jaw misalignment.

Veneers: Common Questions & Concerns

Does insurance cover veneers?

Since veneers are cosmetic, they are never covered by insurance. There may be an exception if a veneer is needed because of an injury.

Are veneers permanent?

Yes, most types of veneers are permanent, including composite and porcelain veneers.

Before placement, your dentist has to shave down some of your natural tooth structure. Lumineers, however, are not permanent. They do not require tooth reduction or recontouring because they are very thin. Lumineers are more prone to fractures and chips.

Are veneers safe?

As long as you take care of them, veneers are safe and not bad for your teeth. It is also rare for veneers to crack or break.

Do veneers hurt?

It is rare for veneers to cause pain and discomfort during and after the procedure is complete.

This is because the procedure is minimally-invasive and only requires removing a small amount of tooth enamel.

Do veneers stain?

Just like natural teeth, some types of veneers can stain over time.

However, most veneers are made out of stain-resistant materials. So if you take care of them, they will stay white for many years.

How long do veneers last?

There are two essential factors that determine how long veneers will last.

After they are placed, you should begin taking care of them like normal teeth. This includes practicing optimal oral health at home (brushing and flossing regularly) and visiting your dentist for teeth cleanings every six months.

Can tooth enamel grow back?

No. Once your tooth enamel is removed, it cannot grow back. This is why veneers are considered permanent restorations.

Last updated on May 19, 2022
9 Sources Cited
Last updated on May 19, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Blue Ocean Publishing Group. The Million Dollar Smile, Changing Lives with Cosmetic Dentistry. 2018.
  2. Hollins, Carole. Basic Guide to Dental Procedures. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2015.
  3. “Dental Veneers.” Aspen Dental, www.aspendental.com/dental-services/cosmetic-dentistry/dental-veneers.
  4. Borges, Erica De Andrade, et al. “Study of Lumineers' Interfaces by Means of Optical Coherence Tomography.” Biophotonics South America, 2015, doi:10.1117/12.2180979.
  5. Ivankova, M. V., and N. I. Krikheli. “Analysis of Results of Treatment of Patients with Discolored Teeth Using Different Types of Lumineers and Composite Veneers.” Medical Alphabet, no. 3, 2020, pp. 8–11., doi:10.33667/2078-5631-2020-3-8-11.
  6. Krikheli, N. I., and M. V. Ivankova. “The Experience with the Application of Lumineers in the Clinical Practice.” Rossiiskaya Stomatologiya, vol. 8, no. 3, 2015, p. 22., doi:10.17116/rosstomat20158322-25.
  7. Goldstein, Ronald E., et al. Ronald E. Esthetics in Dentistry. Wiley Blackwell, 2018.
  8. “Dental Veneers: What Are Veneers, How Much Do They Cost, and Do I Need Them?: Guardian Direct.” GuardianDirect.com, 21 Oct. 1970, www.guardiandirect.com/resources/articles/do-i-need-veneers.
  9. https://www.flickr.com/photos/193955193@N07/51532266491/
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram