The truth about teeth veneers: What are they and how do veneers work?
Teeth veneers have been growing in popularity in recent months but do you actually know what they are or how they work? An expert reveals all
Shows like Love Island and the increasing number of social media influencers all sporting pearly white teeth have led to a surge in searches about teeth veneers in recent years. Even Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is said to have got in on the trend to improve his smile.
Veneers are different from teeth whitening treatments, and beyond being used for purely cosmetic reasons, veneers can also help correct bite issues, worn teeth and other facial concerns.
To get the truth about teeth veneers, we spoke to leading aesthetic dentist and founder of Bespoke Smile Dr Sam Jethwa. Dr Sam specialises in advanced cosmetic dentistry and champions ethical, minimally invasive treatments with natural-looking results.
What are veneers?
A dental veneer is a term used to describe something that sits over, and is attached to, the surface of your tooth. A veneer can be made from a few different materials but Dr Sam said his clinic’s preference is porcelain. Whichever material is chosen, it should ideally be able to be placed without extensive preparation of the tooth itself.
When teeth are drilled down to stumps, these are not veneers – these are crowns. A crown is a tooth-shaped “cap” placed over an existing tooth and while it can feel and function like a regular tooth, it’s not as secure and strong as veneers. Crowns are also rarely fitted for cosmetic reasons, and are much weaker than a minimally invasive veneer.
“With the rise in awareness of cosmetic procedures, especially given the age of social media we now live in, porcelain veneers have maintained themselves as the gold standard option for those looking for a beautiful, bespoke, and long-lasting result,” said Dr Sam. “The critical factor is to be aware of how minimally invasive the treatment will be, and to ensure that the treatment is being clearly explained, and that there is a trial period before finalising the veneers, to ensure they are the right fit for you.”
How do teeth veneers work?
Veneers are attached to the surface of your natural tooth, ideally to the enamel layer. This is done using what’s known as “resin bonding”. This develops a strong bond with the veneer and your tooth to keep the veneer in place.
They come in a range of options, in addition to the preferred porcelain veneers. You can read more about these on the Bespoke Smile website, but they include:
Lumineers: Lumineers require less work than traditional porcelain veneers. They’re made from an ultra-thin material and are slightly more translucent meaning they’re best suited to people whose teeth aren’t too discoloured.
Laminate Veneers: So-called “dental laminates” are thinner than standard veneers, and less enamel is removed in the application process.
Composite Veneers: While porcelain veneers are custom-made pieces of porcelain that fit your teeth, composite veneers are made using a tooth-coloured resin. This is a similarly fast, non-invasive procedure and is cheaper, but they don’t last as long as porcelain veneers.
To avoid the bright and almost fluorescent finish – the kind of brightness seen on the likes of Robert Firmino – Dr Sam recommends minimally invasive veneer treatments.
“Veneers are difficult to produce well, and so they are not offered to a high standard at all clinics,” he explained. “Often veneer fitting visits in our clinic do not require any injections and patients can continue with their day without any disturbance immediately after the appointment.”
How long do veneers last?
Due to the fact veneers are bonded to the enamel on your own teeth, they can remain in place for around 10-12 years. If they get chipped or broken they will need to be replaced. However, if you look after them well, they’ll last a long time. Composite bonding lasts for around half the time.
“You care for veneers in the same way you would care for natural teeth,” said Dr Sam. “Routine hygienist visits, good oral hygiene, and dietary habits, along with limited acid and sugar intake, and regular dental assessments, which include bite assessments will all help keep your veeners looking their best.”
Why would someone choose veneers over teeth whitening or braces?
There are various benefits for choosing veneers over other dental treatments, added Dr Sam. “We may wish to improve a smile’s vitality, brightness, tooth shape, position, width of smile, or how harmonious the smile is in the face. We also can correct bite issues, worn teeth, positional issues, angulation, colour, lip support, facial features, and extreme detail, when using veneers.”
Braces are used often used alongside teeth veneers, as is tooth whitening. However, “in many situations, simply moving the teeth, and whitening the teeth does not deliver the final result expected based on what we wish to achieve,” continued Sam.
How much do veneers cost in the UK?
The costs of veneers depends on the type of treatment you choose, and the material used. As a guide, composite bonding costs around £100-£400 a tooth for around five years’ of use. They tend to look more natural – although this isn’t a rule – but they’re also more likely to stain than porcelain veneers.
This is why porcelain veneers cost in the region of £400-£1,000 a tooth for 10-20 years’ of use. They look like natural teeth but don’t stain in the same way.
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