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The Ultimate Guide to Veneers: What They Are and How They Work

  1. Introduction

Veneers are thin, custom-made shells designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve their appearance. They can be used to fix a variety of cosmetic dental issues such as discolored, chipped, or misaligned teeth. The concept of veneers dates back to the 1920s when they were first used by Hollywood actors to create flawless smiles for film appearances. In the following we have summarized all relevant information about Veneers as advised by Sahil Patel, a well regarded London cosmetic dentist at Marylebone Smile Clinic located at 66th Harley Street, London.

Types of Veneers

Porcelain veneers:

Porcelain veneers are made of a durable, tooth-colored material and are typically considered the gold standard in veneers due to their natural appearance and resistance to staining. However, they tend to be more expensive and require more preparation compared to composite veneers.

Benefits: Natural appearance, stain-resistant, and long-lasting

Drawbacks: More expensive, time-consuming process, and irreversible tooth alterations

Cost: In the UK, porcelain veneers typically cost between £500-£1,000 per tooth

Installation: Porcelain veneers require removing a small amount of tooth enamel, taking an impression, and then bonding the veneer to the tooth after a dental lab has created it

Composite veneers:

Composite veneers are made from a tooth-colored resin material and can be a more affordable option for those looking to enhance their smile. They are less durable than porcelain veneers, but easier and quicker to install.

Benefits: More affordable, less invasive, and faster treatment

Drawbacks: Less durable, less stain-resistant, and may require more maintenance

Cost: Composite veneers usually cost between £200-£400 per tooth in the UK

Installation: Composite veneers can be directly applied to the tooth in a single visit, with minimal tooth alteration needed

The Process of Getting Veneers

Initial consultation:

During your first appointment, your dentist will assess your dental health and discuss your desired outcome. They will then determine if veneers are suitable for you and recommend the appropriate type.

Preparing the teeth:

For porcelain veneers, your dentist will remove a small amount of tooth enamel to create room for the veneer. For composite veneers, minimal preparation is needed.

Making the veneers:

An impression of your teeth will be taken and sent to a dental lab, where your veneers will be custom-made (for porcelain veneers).

Installing the veneers:

Once your veneers are ready, your dentist will ensure they fit properly and bond them to your teeth with a special adhesive.

What to Expect Before and After the Procedure

Pain and discomfort during the procedure:

Although some discomfort may be experienced during tooth preparation, the procedure is generally pain-free, as a local anesthetic is used. Your dentist will take care to minimize discomfort, ensuring the area is properly numbed before any tooth alteration takes place. You may feel some pressure or mild sensations during the process, but these are typically tolerable and temporary.

Recovery and aftercare:

Minimal recovery time is needed after veneer placement. You may experience some sensitivity, which typically subsides within a few days. This sensitivity is usually related to the removal of tooth enamel and may be triggered by hot or cold foods and beverages. To alleviate this discomfort, you can use a toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth and avoid extreme temperature changes in your diet for a few days.

Aside from sensitivity management, it is crucial to maintain good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly, as well as scheduling routine dental check-ups to ensure your veneers and surrounding teeth remain in optimal condition. Your dentist may also recommend using a non-abrasive toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush to protect the veneer’s surface.

Adjusting to the new look and feel of your teeth:

It may take a short time to adjust to your new veneers, but you’ll soon feel comfortable with your transformed smile. Initially, you may experience some differences in the way your teeth feel when you bite or chew, as the added material can create subtle changes in your bite. However, this sensation will dissipate as you grow accustomed to your veneers.

Furthermore, you may feel a heightened awareness of your teeth and be more conscious of your smile. Over time, this self-consciousness will fade as you become accustomed to your new appearance. Many patients find that their confidence significantly improves as they become more comfortable with their enhanced smile, leading to increased self-esteem and a positive impact on their social and professional lives.

Risks and Complication

Potential side effects of the procedure:

Some possible side effects include tooth sensitivity, gum irritation, and issues with the veneer’s fit. Speak to your dentist if you have concerns.

How to avoid or manage risks:

To minimize risks, choose a skilled dentist and follow their aftercare recommendations.

Long-Term Care and Maintenance

How to care for your veneers:

To ensure the longevity of your veneers, maintain a good oral hygiene routine, including regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups. It’s essential to brush at least twice a day and floss daily to prevent plaque buildup and gum disease that could affect the health of your teeth and veneers.

In addition to daily oral care, avoid biting hard objects or using your teeth as tools, as this may damage your veneers. Refrain from habits such as nail-biting, ice-chewing, or opening packaging with your teeth. It’s also wise to limit your consumption of foods and drinks that can cause staining, such as coffee, tea, red wine, and berries, especially for composite veneers, which are less stain-resistant than porcelain veneers.

If you participate in contact sports or have a history of teeth grinding, consider wearing a custom-made mouthguard to protect your veneers from potential damage.

How long they last:

Porcelain veneers can last between 10-15 years with proper care, while composite veneers have a lifespan of around 5-7 years. The longevity of your veneers depends on several factors, such as the quality of the dental work, your oral hygiene habits, and your lifestyle choices. By following your dentist’s recommendations and maintaining a consistent oral care routine, you can maximize the lifespan of your veneers.

Replacing or repairing veneers:

When veneers reach the end of their lifespan or become damaged, they may need to be replaced or repaired. The process for replacing or repairing veneers is similar to the initial placement. If a veneer has a minor chip or crack, your dentist may be able to repair it with composite resin. However, a complete replacement might be required if the damage is severe.

Your dentist will assess the condition of your veneers during routine check-ups and advise on the best course of action if any issues are detected. They will also provide guidance on when it’s time to consider replacing your veneers, taking into account factors such as their age, appearance, and overall condition.


Veneers offer a transformative solution for those seeking to improve their smile’s appearance. With porcelain and composite options available, individuals can choose the best solution for their needs and budget. Ensuring you select a reputable dentist and follow their aftercare advice will minimize risks and help you maintain your new smile for years to come.

Jeff Campbell