Q&A With Dr Emma
Hi Dr Emma, will having veneers fitted ruin my teeth? I've heard you need to file teeth to put them on. And will I need to get them replaced in the future once I have them fitted? Thanks. Sally from Ellenbrook, WA.
You don't necessarily need to have your teeth filed back to have veneers, but it is often required to get the nice-looking result the patient is after. You can also expect veneers to need replacing about every 10 years on average, though there are people who manage to break them earlier, or have them last 15 years or longer. Let's look at veneers in more detail to help answer your questions...
Direct composite veneers: These veneers are done by simply bonding tooth-coloured filling material onto the front of your teeth. It is not always essential to grind/drill/file any of the tooth away to do this, so there is a very small biological cost. They also tend to have a lower dollar cost as well, but there are disadvantages. The composite resin material that is used often does not look quite as natural as porcelain. The end result can offer a great improvement if you're very unhappy with the colour, shape or position of your front teeth, but the teeth may appear a bit more opaque than natural, and will be missing the natural tints and variations that can be achieved with porcelain. Composite resin is also not as strong as porcelain, and can discolour over time.
Indirect porcelain veneers: There are some cases where it is possible to do "no preparation" porcelain veneers, where the teeth are not reduced at all before the veneers are bonded on. However, to get a good result the teeth often do need to be reshaped and ground back to make space to bond the veneers in place. Porcelain does look more natural, and tends to be stronger and longer lasting than composite resin. The drawback is the loss of 0.5-1mm of enamel from the front of each tooth being veneered, and they are more expensive than composite resin veneers.
Veneers should be considered an irreversible procedure. Once a tooth has been reduced back, it will always need a veneer covering it. Veneers can last a long time if done with care for the right sort of patient with the right sort of mouth. Sometimes they do break, chip or fall off. Veneers aren't the be-all and end-all of cosmetic dentistry though. Be sure to discuss all your smile enhancement options with your dentist before deciding veneers are the right choice for you.