Your Options for Dental Veneers

When you’re considering dental veneers, whether that’s for restorative or cosmetic reasons, it’s important to know what your choices are. Veneers are often used to improve the appearance of your smile, and can be used on discolored teeth, broken or chipped teeth, misshapen teeth or teeth with large gaps between them. They can be made from a variety of materials that affect their lifespan and endurance. For more on how veneers work, see our blog on veneers here

Porcelain & Ceramic Veneers

The toughest, longest-lasting, but also most expensive type of veneer is porcelain or ceramic. Porcelain veneers were the first modern veneers developed in the 1980s, and have been used with great success ever since. Current dental technology has also made it possible for us to create veneers with new types of ceramic material, which may be appropriate depending on the individual patient.

Either ceramic or porcelain veneers are machined using CAD/CAM programs to perfectly match the needs of each tooth. We can even do this in a Same-Day Smile visit, where your veneers are prepared and placed in our office all in one appointment, instead of the usual three. Get in touch with our office to see if that’s a good choice for you.

Traditional porcelain veneers are preferred for cosmetic purposes, because their thin, pristine surface gives such a clean, white appearance. However, if a patient has other challenges of restorative dentistry, like damaged enamel or misshapen teeth, ceramics offer a sturdier, thicker surface that may be the better choice.

Your dentist will evaluate each individual case to determine which is the right material for your veneers. There is no distinguishable difference in the lifespan or function between porcelain and ceramic veneers, and they’re often referred to interchangeably by dentists. These veneers will typically last between 10 and 15 years, and possibly longer with good dental care.

Composite Veneers

Sometimes called no-prep veneers, these are created by your dentist from a material similar to what we use in dental bonding procedures. The composite material is a resin, and softer than ceramic veneers, with a shorter lifespan of five to seven years. However, this material is sometimes chosen because of its comparatively lower price to porcelain veneers. It’s also possible your dentist may combine composite and porcelain veneers depending on your individual dental needs and what may be the best option for each tooth needing a veneer.

Good Veneer Care

Caring for all types of veneers is similar to how you would care for your own natural teeth, with regular and thorough brushing and flossing, accompanied by regular dental cleanings. But there are things you can do to help extend their life, such as not chewing on hard objects like pens, ice or fingernails, not opening packaging or bottles with your teeth, and avoiding chewing hard foods with your front teeth.

It’s also important to wear a mouth guard during sports, or at night, if you tend to grind or clench your teeth while sleeping.

Get in touch with your MPDG dentist if you have questions about whether veneers are right for you, and to find out what he or she might recommend to treat your dental concerns. 

Are Veneers Permanent?

Considering veneers as a solution to fix unsightly, discolored, cracked or crooked teeth? A common concern is how long the veneers will last. Every patient is different, and some smiles may have more longevity than others, depending on the extent of the veneers needed, other dental problems, and how well you take care of your teeth.

How Long Veneers Last

As an average, the type of porcelain veneers we use here at Monterey Peninsula Dental Group last patients between 10 and 15 years before they need to be replaced. So, they are not permanent, but are a long-term fix for some dental problems. Confusion sometimes occurs with the permanency of veneers. It’s easy to think that at the end of those 10 or 15 years, the veneers will simply come off and your smile will return to the way it looked before. That’s not the case, however.

During the application of veneers to your teeth, the top layer of enamel is removed to make the bonding with the porcelain material secure and stable. This process is irreversible and without the veneers, your teeth would be unprotected. That means when the veneers reach the end of their life, you will need to replace them with new ones, since you will not have your natural tooth enamel anymore. In a sense, having veneers is permanent, but the veneers themselves are not, so you won’t keep the same set forever.

Veneer Basics

It often helps to understand exactly what veneers are. Porcelain veneers are very thin, ceramic shells that fit your front teeth precisely and are bonded directly to the surface of your teeth. They can fix problems including gaps between teeth, discoloring, graying and stains, badly shaped or crooked teeth, and minor cracks. They are used only in the front of the mouth, and are considered a cosmetic dentistry procedure, although there are restorative aspects to having veneers done. You can find out all the details of how veneers are applied here on our site.

While veneers are not permanent, they remain a popular option for restoring an attractive appearance to your smile, because they most closely imitate the strength and appearance of natural tooth enamel. The porcelain shells are so thin that light actually can shine through them. This allows them to reflect your natural tooth color and blend in perfectly with surrounding teeth. We make sure to use the highest quality of porcelain, to give our patients the longest-lasting veneers possible.

Keep Veneers Strong for Longer

There are lots of ways to maximize the longevity and appearance of your veneers. While the fine porcelain is resistant to staining from common sources like coffee and cigarettes, avoiding these and other discoloring substances like tea and red wine will help keep them looking clean and white for their entire life.

Keeping up a good at-home care routine is also really important for veneers. Brushing and flossing well  will keep them healthy and looking good — our only caveat is that it’s better to use a non-abrasive or sensitive toothpaste to minimize any wear on the porcelain. And, if you are someone who grinds or clenches their teeth at night, talk to us about a recommended soft mouth guard to protect your veneers while you’re sleeping.

Other habits to avoid with veneers include anything that tends to chip or crack teeth, like chewing on ice, biting fingernails, pens or other items, and eating very hard foods. It’s also important, if you play sports, to make sure you wear a well-rated and protective dental mouth guard. We also recommend avoiding actions like using your teeth to open packaging, bottles, and condiments.

No-Prep or Composite Resin Veneers

There’s also another type of veneer sometimes used, which lasts a shorter period of time and is the result of a very different procedure. They’re sometimes called no-prep veneers because they don’t require the extensive preparation and bonding time that porcelain veneers do. Or, you might see them called composite resin veneers, for the material they’re made from.

Composite veneers resemble dental bonding more than traditional veneers, and consist of a layer of resin applied over the front tooth. They can be customized to the exact shade of your teeth, and are less expensive than porcelain veneers. But, they only last a short period of time, from five to seven years on average, according to the Consumers Guide to Dentistry. This means they will need to be replaced sooner and may even cost more in the long run, depending on how many replacements a patient goes through.

Dental Implants – A Permanent Fix

If you have a badly damaged tooth or a tooth that otherwise isn’t well suited to a veneer, another option is a dental implant. This is permanent, and replaces your natural tooth with a custom-fabricated replacement tooth. The implant is anchored by a metal post placed in the bone below the tooth, and both looks and functions just like a regular tooth. Talk with your MPDG dentist about whether this long-term restorative option might work for you.

Whichever type of veneer or other restoration treatment is best for you, our cosmetic dentists at Monterey Peninsula Dental Group are experienced with all the options and will be happy to talk with you about the decision to get veneers. We welcome patients from all across the Monterey Peninsula. Get in touch to learn more about our cosmetic and restorative dental treatments by contacting us online anytime.