What are Dental Veneers?
Dental Veneers are one of the many restorative options we have for improving the looks of your teeth. They are made of thin porcelain and are bonded to the front of teeth to change their shape or color. When used appropriately, they require minimal preparation of the teeth.
How do Dental Veneers work?
Veneers need to be bonded to enamel, the outermost layer of your tooth. Once bonded to enamel, veneers are strong and last a very long time. If veneers are bonded to dentin, the next layer under enamel, that bond will weaken over time. Enamel on the front of teeth is anywhere from 0.5 to 1.5mm thick. That means our preparation ideally shouldn’t remove more than 1.5mm of the tooth if we want our veneers to last.
When correcting chipped or rotated teeth, we need to remove enough tooth structure to bring it in line with the rest of the teeth. If we need to remove more than a max of 1.5mm, then you are no longer in enamel. The more we have to get into dentin to correct the alignment of the tooth, the weaker the bond between tooth and veneer will be. This means eventually the veneer will either break or fall off. In this case, orthodontic work is your best option or if you are in a hurry, a crown is a better option.
This same concept applies if you want to change the color of your teeth with veneers. Since we want to keep our preparation in enamel, a veneer that is only 1-1.5mm thick may not block out a dark spot on a tooth unless we make the veneer very opaque. This means the veneer could look very fake. To cover up that dark color and still make the tooth look natural we have to remove a little more tooth structure to allow the porcelain to have a natural color transition. In a case like this, a crown would most likely be a better option.
Finally, your bite alignment and function is a big factor in deciding if veneers are right for you. Due to how their jaw moves when they chew, patients who have a bite where the tips of their front teeth contact each other or their upper teeth are behind their lower teeth tend to break veneers. People who clench or grind either during the day or at night have a high chance of breaking their veneers. These patients would be much better served with something stronger like a crown.
Dental Bonding vs Veneers
Many people get confused with the terms Dental Bonding vs Veneers since it is mistakenly used interchangeably. What most people mean by this is Composite (white tooth-colored filling material) vs Porcelain veneers. Covering a tooth with either a porcelain veneer or composite filling material is a good way to improve the color, size, and shape of a tooth. That being said, there are good reasons for using one over the other. A general rule of thumb is that a porcelain dental veneer will almost always be stronger, better looking, and easier to clean than a composite type veneer. Porcelain veneers are better for closing spaces of any size and better for adding length to a tooth. Composite or “Dental Bonding” is not good for closing small spaces, as there is not enough room between closely spaced teeth for us to smooth and polish all the edges. This can lead to rough areas that are not good for the gums. Composite is also usually not strong enough to add any significant length to a tooth without chipping off. While these are rough guidelines, there are a whole host of considerations we take into account when deciding what cosmetic option is right for you.
Dental Veneers Cost and Does Dental Insurance Cover Veneers
Most insurances do not cover dental veneers as they consider them to be purely cosmetic. There are some rare instances where an argument can be made to get coverage, but these are very few and far between. If you are considering veneers as a treatment option, you should plan for no coverage from your insurance. This means a typical single veneer will cost anywhere from $1000-$1800.