Why do so many film stars have a “Hollywood smile” – is it simply luck and naturally white, beautiful, and straight teeth? While there may be some celebrities blessed with a radiant smile from childhood, it’s an open secret that many stars enhance their beaming smiles.
In this case, the secret is called “veneers” or “dental veneers,” sometimes also known as “tooth veneers.” Often, you come across misspellings such as “Veeners,” “Veners,” “Veniers,” or even “Vinyl teeth,” but these terms all refer to the same thing.
What are Veneers?
Veneers are ultra-thin, translucent ceramic shells permanently attached to the front teeth. These veneer shells correct misalignments, gaps, as well as the shape and color of teeth, achieving outstanding aesthetic results and beautiful smiles.
The term “veneer” comes from English, literally translating to “veneer,” which refers to a thin layer of wood giving furniture and floors a real wood appearance.
Dental veneers are not made of wood; they are thin, custom-designed ceramic shells applied to the front surface of teeth. These dental veneers allow for aesthetic correction of dental misalignments, discolorations, or minor irregularities. Veneers are a popular option for those seeking a radiant smile with minimally invasive procedures. Precision and individual customization of veneers are crucial for a natural and harmonious result.
Different Types of Veneers
However, “veneer” is not equal to “veneer.” There are various types of veneers that differ in terms of material (ceramic veneer or plastic veneer), thickness (with or without tooth preparation, i.e., grinding of teeth), and manufacturing method. The choice of veneer depends on the desired outcome, making personalized advice from an experienced dentist essential to avoid costly mistakes and treatments.
Next, we will discuss the different types of veneers along with their pros and cons:
Classic Ceramic Veneers
A classic veneer is made from a thin ceramic layer. The dentist usually needs to grind a minimal layer from the tooth’s surface to create a seamless transition between the tooth and veneer, ensuring a natural appearance.
The amount of grinding depends on the desired outcome. For significantly lighter color, the veneer needs a certain thickness to mask the dark color of the natural tooth. If a tooth is crooked or has protruding edges, specific areas may need grinding to give the tooth a straight form. Conversely, if a tooth is too small and needs to appear larger, little or no grinding may be necessary.
After tooth preparation and impression-taking, the veneers are either digitally designed and milled from a ceramic or plastic block or crafted by hand, layer by layer. Handcrafted veneers allow for greater customization but are more labor-intensive and, consequently, more expensive.
In a second session, the dentist bonds the finished veneer to the tooth’s surface using a special adhesive, requiring meticulous care for a durable and visually perfect outcome.
The creation of veneers demands expertise both on the dental and dental technician sides when executed correctly.
Lumineers or Non-Prep Veneers
Lumineers are a special type of veneers made from very thin, translucent ceramic material. Similar to traditional veneers, Lumineers are applied to the front of teeth for aesthetic improvements. The advantage lies in their thinness (only 0.2-0.3 mm), often requiring minimal or no tooth grinding. Hence, they are also known as Non-Prep Veneers.
Lumineers are considered a gentle option for enhancing smiles, as they largely preserve the natural tooth. However, their thin ceramic layer limits their use for extensive cosmetic changes. For dark teeth, the thin ceramic layer may only achieve a certain degree of whitening, as the natural dark color may show through the thin Non-Prep Veneers.
The production of these thin veneer shells is technically challenging, contributing to their higher cost.
Composite (plastic) veneers are shells made from plastic material. As they are usually thicker than, for example, Lumineers, some tooth grinding is typically necessary. Visually, they may not appear as realistic as ceramic veneers, as ceramic more closely resembles natural tooth material. Due to simpler production, composite veneers are often more affordable than ceramic ones.
Veneers to Go
Similar to “Veneers to go,” there are offers promising a radiant white and even smile in just one session. These often use prefabricated composite veneers adjusted to the patient’s tooth shape before bonding. However, these veneers come in standard colors and shapes, lacking the individualized craftsmanship.
Results from “Veneers to go” may not be particularly appealing, and upon closer inspection, they may appear artificial and less genuine.
A new variant, now available online from companies like “Veneera,” is known as “snap-on veneers” or “snap-on smile.” These veneers, akin to dental trays, are placed over the teeth, with all veneers connected. Consequently, upon closer examination, the teeth may appear thicker or bulkier due to the application of these veneers over the natural teeth.
Disadvantages of Veneers
What drawbacks might one need to accept for a new smile with veneers?
- Number of Veneers: When planning veneers for a permanent change in tooth color, typically all visible teeth when smiling (usually the first five on each side of the upper and lower jaw) need treatment. However, in some cases, fewer teeth may suffice, a decision that must be made collaboratively with the dentist.
- Tooth Preparation/Grinding: As discussed earlier, in many cases, some level of tooth grinding is necessary. While this is generally a minimal amount (0.3-0.5 mm), it is irreversible.
- Non-Prep Veneers Drawbacks: The advantage of not grinding the tooth can be a drawback in terms of aesthetic results. Without tooth grinding, the options to reshape the tooth are often limited. The thinness of Non-Prep Veneers limits changes in tooth color based on the initial color.
- Composite Veneers Drawbacks: Although more affordable, composite veneers may have limited aesthetic appeal compared to ceramic veneers due to their thickness and appearance.
When correctly crafted and applied, veneers offer an attractive and reliable way to enhance one’s smile. Negative experiences with veneers often stem from choosing the wrong veneer type or applying veneers to teeth unsuitable for the treatment. Therefore, professional guidance from an experienced practitioner is crucial for treatment success. Given that veneers are not a low-cost treatment method, it’s essential to clarify before treatment whether the desired results are achievable with veneers or if other alternatives are more suitable.
Lumineers & Veneers Costs
The costs for veneers and Lumineers (Non-Prep Veneers) can vary significantly based on factors such as the type of veneers, material quality, the number of veneers needed, the location of the dental practice, and the dentist’s experience. For a high-quality, laboratory-fabricated veneer, costs are estimated to be around 2000 CHF. Cheaper veneer solutions often come at the expense of aesthetics and quality. For precise cost information, it is advisable to obtain an individualized cost estimate during an examination and discussion, considering all necessary steps for the specific case.
Alternatives to Veneers
There are many reasons why opting for veneers might be a suitable choice, as they can quickly change the shape, color, and to some extent, the alignment of teeth with just a few treatments. However, there are numerous cases where other treatments are necessary or better suited to achieve the desired results.
- Bleaching: If a lighter tooth color is desired, without the need to change the shape or alignment of the teeth, teeth whitening, also known as bleaching, can be an ideal and gentle solution.
- Aligner Treatment (Orthodontic Aligners, Invisalign®): When teeth are misaligned, rotated, have large gaps, or severe crowding, veneers may not be the right solution for achieving a uniform smile. In such cases, correcting the incorrect tooth position with orthodontic treatment is recommended. This can often be done without traditional braces, using clear aligners such as Invisalign®. If a color change is also desired, this treatment can be combined with teeth whitening or used as preparation for a veneer treatment if veneers alone would not achieve the desired result.
- Dental Crowns: Veneers cover only the visible front of the tooth, making them gentle on healthy tooth structure, as minimal to no grinding of the natural tooth is required, especially in the case of Non-Prep Veneers. However, if a tooth has large fillings and is compromised in stability, a dental crown that completely encases the tooth might be a better option.
Dr. Markus Spalek
For veneers, the work of the dentist and dental technician should be ideal so that the teeth look natural and beautiful.
Frequently Asked Questions about Veneers
If you are considering veneers, it is essential to consult with an experienced dentist. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions and their answers that may arise during such a consultation:
While Turkey has become a popular destination for various cosmetic procedures, including dental treatments at significantly lower prices than in Switzerland, the decision to seek treatment abroad comes with potential drawbacks. Dental treatments often require planning and multiple sessions, making extended stays necessary. Attempts to shorten the time frame may compromise quality and precision. Language barriers can also impact the communication of aesthetic preferences crucial to such treatments. In case of post-insertion adjustments, being far from the treatment location can be inconvenient and costly. Swiss dentists might be hesitant to intervene in the work of foreign colleagues, and the distance poses challenges in case of complications or revisions, eroding the initial cost savings.
The durability of veneers depends on various factors, including material quality, individual oral hygiene, lifestyle, and careful maintenance. Generally, veneers can last many years, often over a decade. High-quality ceramic veneers are considered more durable than plastic ones. Regular dental visits, good oral hygiene, and avoiding excessively hard foods or habits like teeth grinding can contribute to extending the lifespan of veneers. However, it’s crucial to note that veneers are not permanent, and they may need replacement or renewal over time, incurring additional costs.
Veneers are typically considered cosmetic procedures for individual smile enhancement, and as such, they are usually not covered or subsidized by health insurance. In some cases, certain supplementary insurance plans may cover cosmetic services, but this varies and needs to be clarified by the patient on a case-by-case basis.
Emax is a trade name for a specific lithium disilicate ceramic. It is chosen for veneers due to its material properties, offering both high strength similar to natural teeth and exceptional aesthetics. Other ceramic types include the aesthetically pleasing but less stable glass or feldspar ceramics and the more stable but less visually translucent zirconia. The selection of the most suitable ceramic variant is made by the dentist and dental technician based on the situation and desired outcome.
The costs of veneers can vary significantly depending on the type of veneer, the material used, and the manufacturing process. While excellent dental technicians come with a price, they also produce veneers of superior quality and aesthetics. Lower costs generally entail compromises in fit, quality, and natural appearance.
For heavily discolored teeth, preliminary bleaching is often required to adjust or optimize the tooth color. In cases of significant dental misalignments, orthodontic treatment, such as aligners, may be recommended before considering veneers.
Veneer treatment is not typically painful. Local anesthesia is usually sufficient to ensure that patients feel minimal discomfort during the procedure.