Veneers color test

Veneers may not last for life, but they are a lifelong decision in most cases. These dental devices attach to the exterior of your more visible teeth to create the appearance of a straighter, whiter, and better aligned smile. 

Veneers are great for covering stubborn stains and hiding minor alignment issues that don’t need the adjustment offered by braces. 

Before you decide that veneers are the right choice for you, consider the entire process and the many steps you’ll take before your sparkling smile is ready to reveal.

What Veneers Are Used to Treat?

Veneers are commonly used to fix the following dental flaws and imperfections:

  • Stains and discoloration that don’t respond well to whitening treatments
  • Chips and other small imperfections that affect the shape and appearance of the teeth
  • Misaligned teeth that don’t qualify for more advanced orthodontic treatment
  • Overcrowded teeth that need the appearance of extra space between them
  • Underbite or overbite issues that are due to shortened teeth on the top or bottom jaw
  • Crossbite alignment issues that don’t cause issues with speaking or chewing.

Alternative Treatment Options

The alternatives to veneers depend largely on what you’re trying to achieve. 

Veneers are primarily used for cosmetic reasons to improve the appearance of your smile. If that’s all you need, a few whitening visits or a treatment known as bonding may work just fine. 

Bonding involves coating the teeth with a material that creates a smooth and white appearance, but it’s less useful for covering chips or modifying tooth alignment than veneers. 

Orthodontics may be required if you need real realignment of certain teeth since veneers only change the appearance of overcrowded or tilted teeth. More severe overbite or underbite problems are also best dealt with by orthodontic treatments.

The 3-Step Veneers Process

Everyone is different, so you may need more visits or fewer trips to the dentist than usual to achieve your goals. 

The procedure will vary depending on the type of veneers you choose, the number of veneers you want placed, and where they are placed in the mouth. 

The same basic steps are used for all procedures, but your dentist will let you know if anything can be skipped or if you’ll need additional treatments along the way. Veneers are generally complete after 2 to 3 visits to the dentist.

Step 1: Consultation & Oral Exam

This visit gives you a chance to discuss your options, desires, and limitations with your dentist. 

Depending on what’s affecting your smile, you may need orthodontic work first. Whitening will also be discussed so the teeth that won’t be covered in veneers will match those that are covered. Your dentist will help you visualize what your new smile will look like once the veneers are in place so you can make any alterations. 

They’ll also check your teeth for decay and signs of gum disease that might interfere with veneer placement. You can get additional treatment before having the veneers placed to ensure they have the best chance of lasting for a decade or longer.

Step 2: Take Impressions

Once you confirm your veneer plans, the dentist will trim the enamel layer on the teeth that will receive the veneers. This creates space for the veneer to fit flush with the rest of the natural tooth. It also means that you’ll need veneers on those teeth for the rest of your life because of their altered appearance and extra sensitivity. The dentist takes impressions of your teeth and sends those to the lab so the custom veneers can be crafted.

In most cases, the dentist will place temporary veneers to cover the teeth. This prevents sensitivity and gives you a natural-looking smile. Don’t worry if those temporary placements aren’t exactly what you want. The final veneers will look better and can be adjusted by the dentist until you’re happy. 

The temporary veneers are more like a test drive that gives you a chance to get ready for the real thing. Your dentist will make these right there in the office and place them quickly so you can get back to your normal routine.

Step 3: Place Veneers

Anywhere from a few weeks to a month later, your permanent veneers will come back from the lab. Your dentist will do a final evaluation of the color, fit, and shape to make sure each one fits your smile. 

If the veneers need minor adjustments, they can usually be done in the office during placement. The dentist will clean your teeth thoroughly, then roughen the surface so the bonding cement grips the natural tooth material. UV light is used to safely harden the cement in a matter of minutes. Local anesthetic is used for all of these steps so you can relax until the work is done.

When all the veneers are in place, you’ll get a chance to check how it looks and test how your bite pattern feels. The dentist will adjust anything you want at that point and then give you a chance to live with your new smile.

Follow-up Visit

In most cases, you can wait until your next routine dental cleaning to get your new veneers checked by the dentist. You can also make an appointment any time you have concerns about your new veneers. 

Patients who have compromised teeth or who received orthodontic treatment first may want a follow-up one month after placement to make sure everything is in place. Other than that, your dentist will advise you on any other follow-up visits needed.

Are There Any Risks with the Veneers Procedure?

There aren’t many risks to veneers. Since you have to let the dentist remove at least a small amount of tooth enamel, the affected teeth can become more sensitive to hot and cold. Your dentist can help you address this with toothpaste and mouth rinses. 

Veneers can also become damaged if you chew on ice or indulge in hard and chewy foods. Taking care of your veneers with routine brushing and flossing largely prevents most of the risks associated with them.

Veneers Aftercare

Wait at least two hours after any preparation or placement visits before eating or drinking so the local anesthetic has a chance to wear off. Treat your temporary veneers with extra care by not eating any sticky, hard, or crunchy foods. 

You may experience sensitivity and sore gums in the days after permanent veneers are placed, but this should dissipate after a few days. 

Permanent veneers are more durable but still need care. You may want to eat only soft foods in the days following the veneers procedure. After this, there are no special eating restrictions although you may still want to avoid extremely hard foods that could crack or chip veneers.

Brush regularly and floss carefully around any teeth with a veneer on it.

Learn more in in our patient-friendly guide to veneer aftercare.

How Long Do Veneers Last?

Veneers last around 10 to 20 years, especially if they are made from porcelain. Composite veneers tend to only last around 5 to 10 years. 

Once you get your teeth shaped and prepped prior to placing veneers, you will always need veneers. In other words, although individual veneers won’t last forever, veneers are a permanent dental solution.

Getting Veneers at Bunker Hill Dentistry

Schedule a consultation to discuss your options for veneers with our team here at Bunker Hill Dentistry in Houston. 

We’re happy to help you improve your smile in any way that we can. If it’s not with veneers, we also offer whitening, bonding, and other services designed to improve your self-confidence.

Learn about getting veneers at Bunker Hill Dentistry