Tri Le Are you thinking about finding a way to make your smile look a bit more natural? Veneers can help you. Veneers are a type of very thin shell, made of porcelain (medical-grade ceramic) or a type of composite resin material. They offer the ability to comprehensively change the way your teeth look. The thin shells adhere to the front of the teeth, giving them an impressively beautiful look. However, there are several dental veneers on the market. Porcelain veneers are often considered the best of the options because they are highly durable. They can provide a long-lasting option, depending on how skilled the dental provider is when applying them. What Does “Permanent” Mean? This is the big question many people have. Will porcelain veneers last forever? Are they durable and a permanent solution to your underlying tooth problems? There are several things to consider here. Most of the time, porcelain veneers last between 10 and 20 years. It is important that they are installed properly and that you choose a high-quality product. You also need to take care of them to ensure you get the longest lifespan possible. What if you need them replaced? This is an option. At some point, you may find they need to be replaced. You can get new ones and they can provide you with a fresh smile again. Finally, the next question people want to know is what happens if they are removed. Can your natural teeth be restored? This is unlikely. Unless you have not had any type of preparation work prior to having them placed, there will be some changes made to the teeth. As a result, it will be impossible to restore your teeth to a renewed look. How Long Will Porcelain Veneers Last? Considering the information about what would happen if you remove them, you may wonder, then, how long they will actually last you. Most of the time, they will last between 10 and 15 years, sometimes up to 20 years. This all depends on how well you care for them with routine visits and proper at-home dental care. Most of the time, it is the way you treat your veneers that will impact how long they last. When you visit our office, we will provide you with information about how to ensure long-term success. You can have a high success rate with these porcelain veneers if two things happen. First, you need a truly skilled professional to install them properly. Second, you need to follow the guidance given to you for caring for them. Taking these steps can help to ensure you get the type of results you want from your investment. Tips to Improve Durability What goes into getting this longevity with your porcelain veneers? First, you need to take steps to protect them by knowing what foods to avoid, such as not chewing on sugary foods or biting into hard foods (or any hard surfaces, for that matter) like nuts and rock candy. If you do find a missing piece or a portion falls off, contact your dental care provider right away. This ensures it will be more likely you will be able to have it put back into place. When they fall off, they are at a high risk of damage. A good oral hygiene regimen is the cornerstone for protecting your teeth, just as it is for your natural teeth. You also want to ensure you visit your dentist at least once every six months. You will need to have ongoing care to pinpoint any evidence of tooth decay or gum disease, which can put your veneers at risk. Your gum health is essential – watch out for signs of bleeding or swollen gums. Gum disease and gum recession are key concerns here. Protect your teeth by avoiding situations where you are putting a lot of force on your teeth – including tooth grinding. Another common concern has to do with color. Stains are possible if you do not maintain them well enough. While porcelain veneers are in fact very stain resistant, this can happen if you drink a lot of coffee, tea, or wine. Smoking or using chewing tobacco can also be a problem. Can You Replace Veneers to Put in New ones? You will more than likely need to replace them over time. Sometimes a repair is possible, but you may need to remove them and replace them with a new porcelain veneer. Most will need to be replaced within 20 years. Otherwise, you may need to replace them if they fracture, you want to change the color, or you are otherwise unhappy with them. In some situations where the damage to the porcelain veneer is minor, it may be possible to fix it using material that is more affordable. It will not be as strong as pure porcelain although it can save considerably on costs. The Veneers Replacement Process To remove an old porcelain veneer, you will go through a similar process as you did when having them installed where the tooth is prepared for the process. The goal is for the dental care provider to remove the veneer in a safe manner so that no irreversible damage comes to the tooth. Costs can rise in some cases during this procedure. Most of the time, your dentist will drill off the veneer, right down to the tooth. Any type of decay on the tooth needs to be removed. Then, the dental care provider needs to prepare the teeth again. This includes creating new impressions with the shape and color you select. In addition to this, temporary veneers are put in place. These remain in place until the permanent porcelain veneers are crafted and ready to be placed once again. When this is ready, most patients need an enamel removal procedure for the placement process. There are solutions available for those who do not have enough enamel to put the new products in place. You will discuss this with your dentist. Can You Remove Veneers and Go Back to Your Natural Teeth? For some people, the thought of being able to simply remove the veneers and just keep your natural teeth sounds like an option. Most of the time, this does not happen. Because porcelain veneers are a permanent application, they change the tooth enamel present, and there is no way for new enamel to be put in place. The reason for this is simple. When you have the first veneers placed, there will be a process to prepare the natural tooth. This often includes shaping and drilling off some of the enamel there. There is no way for this to repair on its own. It is very rare that patients don’t undergo some type of prep work. If this is the case you may be able to remove the porcelain veneers. DURAthin and Lumineers are two types that do not require this type of prep. In these cases, removing them and polishing the natural teeth is possible. Because porcelain veneers should be thought of as a permanent solution, get to know your dentist. Vet them. Get to know the type and quality of work they do. What If You Are Unhappy with Your Porcelain Veneers? Some people just do not like the outcome they get. There is no doubt this is a significant change to your smile. In some cases, it is possible to have them filed, but this will cause them to always feel rough, and it can weaken them, allowing for micro-fractures to occur. It is also important to know that, when filing them, it is not possible for your dentist to know how thin the veneers are. And, they can be filed too much, allowing the natural tooth to come through. And, if they do come off, there is no way to know how much of the enamel is left on the tooth. In these situations, it may be necessary to obtain a new set. In all cases, you will want to know what your options are thoroughly before moving forward. Tri LeA practicing dentist since 1987, Dr. Le has been running successful dental practices in Texas with his wife Ann since 1990. A member of the ADA, AACD and AADSM, Dr. Le has also contributed to several leading dental journals.