Porcelain veneers are an excellent way to cover tooth chips, cracks, and discoloration. But can they become discolored themselves?

Read on to learn why this stain-resistant, natural-looking remedy should give you a vibrant, confident smile for many years. 

Veneers color test

 

Can Porcelain Veneers Stain?

The short answer is: no, porcelain veneers don’t stain.

Porcelain is made from glass-ceramic and  isn’t porous like natural tooth enamel (and like composite veneers), and therefore it doesn’t absorb coffee, red wine, or any of the other common culprits behind stained natural teeth.

Thus, staining is very rare; modern porcelain veneers ultimately need replacing when they’ve chipped, cracked, or lost their bond, but discolorization is not a real concern, even after many years.  You can generally expect porcelain veneers to last between 10 and 15 years but this can be longer with good care.

However, there are a few reasons porcelain veneers may appear to be stained, even though the real cause is something else…

 

What Causes Porcelain Veneers to Appear Stained?

If your veneers don’t seem to look as white as they used to, there are a few possible explanations:

  • You have a temporary stain that can be removed by thorough brushing at home or by a cleaning at the dentist’s office. 
  • Your gums are receding as you age, exposing tooth areas that previously had not been visible and aren’t covered by veneer. As the gum recedes, it exposes the thin line of composite glue that was pressed out from under the veneer when it was applied to the tooth. This material can stain, as can the rest of the tooth as it becomes exposed, if the gum recession continues unchecked. 
  • Food and their pigments have worked their way beneath the thin veneers onto the natural tooth either through cracks from scratching, or by seeping through gaps in bonding along the sides of the veneers. A dentist can remove bacteria buildup between the veneer and the tooth behind it with a fine diamond-impregnated metal strip.
  • Your natural tooth behind the veneer has been damaged somehow, causing it to yellow faster than undamaged teeth would, and the yellowing is visible under the veneer. 
  • You’re comparing your veneers, which were placed years ago, to those of someone you know who just got theirs. People are opting for whiter veneers than in the past, so yours may seem darker by comparison. 
  • You’re comparing your veneers to your ‘naked’ natural teeth that have changed color through whitening, making the veneers appear darker by comparison. 

 

Can Porcelain Veneers Be Whitened?

The stain-resistance of porcelain veneers also makes them impervious to whitening gels or bleaching that can whiten natural teeth. Not only would these products not whiten porcelain veneers, they are apt to scratch them, creating gateways for food and bacteria to sneak in and cause decay. 

So porcelain can’t change color–the only way to get whiter porcelain veneers would be to replace them with new veneers that were manufactured whiter. 

 

Tips to Keep Your Porcelain Veneers White and Healthy

The answer to so many dental issues is “maintain a good oral cleaning routine,” and that’s the case with dental veneers. Treat them just as you would normal teeth:

  • Brush twice per day and floss at least once.
  • See your dentist regularly for cleanings to resolve stubborn surface stains.
  • Limit or avoid foods and drinks likely to stain, such as vibrant fruits, tea and coffee, candy, etc. If you do eat them, brush or rinse with water 30 minutes afterward.  There are few restrictions, but still some considerations when eating and drinking with porcelain veneers.
  • Use a non-abrasive toothpaste and soft-bristle toothbrush. 

 

To maximize the life of your porcelain veneers, read our guide on veneers aftercare.

 

Learn more about porcelain veneers at Bunker Hill Dentistry