What are dental veneers?

Dental veneers are thin coverings applied to teeth to improve the appearance of chipped, cracked, discolored, gapped or misshapen teeth. Your dentist bonds tooth-colored dental veneers to your teeth with cement. Dental veneers are made of composite or porcelain (ceramic) materials and are often applied without an anesthetic.

Dental veneers can last from five to 15 years depending on the type of material used. They are typically used on the front teeth, which experience less wear and tear and biting forces than teeth farther back in the mouth, such as molars.

A dental veneer procedure is generally very safe, but it does have risks and potential complications. It is only one method used to improve the appearance of teeth. Discuss all of your options with your dentist to understand which options are right for you.  

Why is a dental veneer procedure performed?

Your dentist may recommend dental veneers to improve the appearance of your teeth. Not everyone is a candidate for veneers, such as people with poor oral hygiene or those who grind their teeth. Ask your dentist if you are a good candidate for dental veneers.

Dentists apply dental veneers to improve the esthetics or cosmetic look of the following conditions:

  • Cracked or chipped teeth that do not require more extensive procedures to repair, such as a root canal and dental crown
  • Discolored teeth that appear yellow, brown or gray
  • Misshapen or misaligned teeth including teeth with gaps between them, teeth that are too short, gums that have receded away from the teeth, or teeth that are crooked

Who performs a dental veneer procedure?

A general dentist or pediatric dentist performs dental veneer procedures. General dentists prevent, diagnose and treat diseases and conditions of the teeth, gums, mouth, and associated structures of the jaw and face. Pediatric dentists specialize in caring for the dental needs of children and teens.

How is a dental veneer procedure performed?

Your dental veneer procedure will be performed in a dental office or clinic. The procedure generally includes these steps:

  1. You will sit in a reclining position in the dentist chair. You may wear a clear shield over your eyes. The shield protects your eyes from spraying liquids and dental instruments.
  2. Some dental veneer procedures involve anesthetic and some do not. If you need pain control, your dentist will inject a local anesthetic into the gums near your teeth. The anesthetic numbs the pain during the procedure. Your dentist may also apply a painless topical anesthetic to numb the gums partially before the injection.
  3. Your dentist will reduce tooth thickness by filing down some of the natural tooth structure.
  4. Your dentist will etch the surface of your teeth. This helps attach the veneer securely to your tooth.
  5. If you are receiving porcelain (ceramic) veneers, your dentist will make a mold (impression) of your teeth. Your dentist or a lab will use the impression of your teeth to make veneers that fit correctly. This typically takes one to two weeks. The dentist may place temporary veneers on your teeth to cover them while you wait for the final veneers to be created. 
  6. If you are receiving composite veneers, you will not need a mold or a lab to make your veneers. They should be ready for placement the same day.
  7. Your dentist will apply the veneers to your teeth and attach them using special cement. 
  8. Your dentist will hold a device that makes a special blue light beam over your teeth to harden and set the cement and veneers.

Will I feel pain?

Your comfort and relaxation are important to you and your care team. You may feel brief sharp pinches if your dentist injects your gums with local anesthetic. Ask your dentist if your gums can be partially numbed with a painless topical anesthetic before the injections.

Take a few long, deep breaths to help yourself relax. Tell your dentist if any discomfort does not pass quickly. 

What are the risks and potential complications of dental veneers?  

Complications of dental veneers are uncommon, but any dental procedure involves risks and potential complications that may become serious in some cases. Complications can develop during the procedure or your recovery.&