Dental Veneers and Lumineers are a form of cosmetic dentistry in which a shell or layer of tooth-colored porcelain or composite is placed over the facial surfaces of your teeth to correct worn tooth enamel, uneven tooth alignment or spacing, discoloration and chips or cracks.
Although dental veneers and Lumineers fall into the category of cosmetic dentistry because they create bright, white smiles with beautifully aligned, shapely teeth, they also protect the surface of damaged teeth and may eliminate the need for more extensive treatments. Other benefits of veneers include durability, an improved smile appearance, and the need for little-to-no removal of tooth structure compared to crowns.
Regardless of what causes unattractive teeth, dental veneers may solve most or even all of your cosmetic dental issues, including:
The two most common materials used to fabricate or create dental veneers are composite resin and porcelain. Indirect (created outside of your mouth) porcelain veneers and composite veneers are made by a dental technician in a dental laboratory; direct (created directly on your teeth) composite veneers are made by your dentist during your appointment at the dental office.
Porcelain dental veneers are more appropriate solutions for severe cases involving dullness, wear, discoloration, extensive chipping, cracking, spacing or uneven teeth.
Composite bonding or just bonding — which refers to direct composite veneers — is an inexpensive, effective and minimally invasive way to restore and correct small chips, cracks and discoloration in the teeth.
The removal of any natural tooth structure is permanent, so cosmetic dentists today prefer to offer patients the most minimally invasive options first. If your natural teeth are functionally and aesthetically adequate, dental veneers may not be an appropriate treatment for you.
However, if you have severely dull or discolored teeth, your treatment options may include porcelain dental veneers or composite veneers. Veneers do have the added benefits of longevity and a proven ability to enhance the appearance of the mouth, smile and other facial features that are better supported by properly shaped teeth.
Porcelain dental veneers or direct composite veneers may require the “shaping” or “prepping” of all teeth being treated. Therefore, some cosmetic dentists first recommend teeth whitening to people with mildly discolored teeth who want a whiter and brighter smile because it is the least invasive cosmetic dentistry option. If crooked teeth or alignment issues are involved, whitening also may be combined with orthodontic treatments, including Invisalign.
Traditional porcelain veneer placement typically requires the removal of tooth structure, sometimes beyond the outermost layer of the tooth called enamel, making it an irreversible procedure. Some porcelain veneers available today can be placed completely within enamel in a minimally invasive and possibly “no preparation” way.
Additionally, whereas traditional porcelain veneer procedures usually require an injection of local anesthetic, this might not be necessary if the dentist can place the veneers within enamel. The patient’s level of sensitivity will determine if not using anesthesia is an option.
Patients undergoing a minimal preparation veneer procedure—such as for Lumineers, Durathin veneers and Vivaneeers—may also require tooth modifications, depending on the condition and position of the teeth being treated. Such modifications are minimal, affecting only the enamel layer, with no penetration into the dentin (layer of tooth substance beneath enamel).
Minimal preparation and “no-prep” veneers may be suitable for adults and adolescents seeking to effectively address several cosmetic dental conditions, including: