Two dental veneer preparations

Veneers have exploded in popularity over the last decade. We’re all chasing a brighter, whiter smile, and veneers can help us reach that goal. 

While many patients are interested in this procedure, one of their first questions is, “Do I have to shave my teeth for veneers?”

If you’re interested in getting veneers, it’s important to understand how the procedure works, whether it’s necessary to shave your teeth and the benefits of getting veneers.

What are Veneers?

Veneers are very thin, tooth-colored coverings that are placed on the surface of your teeth. One of the main reasons why patients are interested in veneers is because they can hide imperfections, like stains, minor gaps and crookedness. They look and feel just like your natural teeth, making them even more aesthetically pleasing.

Veneers can be used to:

  • Cover cracks and stains
  • Close gaps
  • Change the size, length, shape or color of your teeth

They cannot fix severely crooked or broken teeth, but there are other options for these cases.

If you find that veneers are a good fit for you, you’ll have two main options:

  • Porcelain
  • Composite resin

Both types of veneers achieve the same goal, but each material has its pros and cons. 

Porcelain Veneers

Porcelain veneers are made from porcelain, so they look just like natural teeth. These veneers are custom-made to fit your teeth, and they offer many benefits, such as:

  • Durability and strength
  • Stain resistance
  • Aesthetically pleasing look
  • Gentle on gum tissue

Porcelain veneers can easily last a decade or more with proper care. But the biggest drawback with these veneers is that the process is irreversible. 

And yes, these veneers usually do require your teeth to be shaved before placement.

Composite Resin Veneers

Composite resin is another common option for veneers. These veneers are also tooth-colored and look very natural. They fit right over your natural teeth, just like porcelain veneers. However, there are some differences that patients should be aware of.

Composite resin veneers:

  • Do not require as much tooth shaving as porcelain
  • Are typically a more affordable option than porcelain veneers
  • Last up to a decade
  • Are much easier to fix than porcelain veneers

That said, composite resin veneers do have one big drawback: they are not as stain-resistant or durable as porcelain veneers.

Both types of veneers can help you achieve the smile of your dreams. We can discuss the pros and cons of each type of veneer in greater detail when you come into our office to help you find the best option for you.

Benefits of Veneers

If you want to improve the look of your smile, you may be considering veneers. There are many benefits to veneers, whether you choose porcelain or composite resin.

They Look Natural 

Cosmetic Teeth Smile

One of the biggest benefits of veneers is that they look and feel natural. Unless you tell people otherwise, they’ll never know that you have veneers. 

Porcelain veneers are custom-made to fit your teeth, and they feel just like real teeth, too.

The natural look of veneers can help restore your confidence in your smile.

They Can Fix Minor Cracks, Chips and Stains

Veneers can help fix cosmetic issues like chips, cracks, gaps and stains. 

During your consultation, we can determine whether you’re a candidate for veneers or if you will need a different restoration option. If the tooth is too fragile or a crack is too severe, we may recommend a crown instead. 

They Can Prevent Tooth Stains

Porcelain veneers are naturally resistant to stains, which will help preserve your white smile. However, it’s still important to practice good oral hygiene to protect both your veneers and your natural teeth.

Make sure that you continue:

  • Brushing twice a day
  • Flossing once a day
  • Visiting our office for cleanings and exams

If you take good care of your veneers, they can last a decade or more and maintain their bright appearance.

They’re Low Maintenance

Unlike other restoration options, veneers are low maintenance. They should be taken care of just like your natural teeth, which means daily brushing and flossing. Because they are non-porous and resistant to stains, veneers are very easy to maintain.

How Does the Process Work When Getting Veneers?

Dental veneers are an exciting form of cosmetic dentistry, but it’s important for you to know about the procedure before having it performed. 

Step 1: Consultation

First, you need to come into our office for a consultation. We need to perform a complete examination of your teeth to understand if you’re a good candidate for the procedure or not. Unfortunately, there are some cases when a person’s teeth cannot support a veneer, such as:

  • Extreme tooth decay will make the tooth too weak after prepping it
  • Weakened teeth, which will not have enough strength to support the veneer

A quick consultation in our office is all you’ll need to know if dental veneers will work for you or not. We may need to fix tooth alignment issues or perform other procedures before we can begin prepping your tooth for veneers.

Step 2: Impressions

Once the teeth have any treatment performed on them that’s necessary for veneers, we’ll then take impressions of your teeth. These impressions are necessary for fabricating the veneers. We’ll make a note of your tooth’s shape and shade of colour so that they can be made to look as real and natural as possible.

Step 3: Shave Your Teeth

Veneers need to be cemented in place, and we’ll use shaving and etching techniques to ensure a proper fit. The shaving allows the cement to adhere to the tooth, so you don’t need to be concerned with the veneer moving or becoming detached when eating.

When we shave your tooth, we remove a small amount of enamel and shape the tooth for the veneer.

Step 4: Placement

When the veneers are fabricated and you’re happy with the shade of the tooth, we will then attach the dental veneers using a special adhesive. The final curing of the veneer’s cement will occur only when we’re happy with the placement and fit.

Now, the only thing left to do is maintain your veneer, which is a low-maintenance cosmetic. You can eat, laugh and enjoy your smile for years to come. However, you still need to follow good oral hygiene practices, such as brushing your teeth twice or more daily, in addition to regular dental exams and cleanings.

Do They Have to Shave Your Teeth for Veneers?

No. New technologies are emerging that may reduce or eliminate the need to shave the enamel off of your teeth. The issue is that some of these treatments may or may not work for you. We will need to perform a complete exam of your teeth to know if these no-prep options are a good fit for you.

Additionally, there are some veneer technologies that are minimal prep, meaning that we have to do a lot less before placing your veneer. Lumineers are an excellent example of a new technology that allows us to fit veneers to your teeth in new, less intrusive manners.

However, there are times when shaving your teeth to prep them for veneers is our only option because:

  • Certain tooth damage prevents us from using a no-prep treatment
  • You suffer from certain conditions

If you need to have your teeth shaved to prep for your veneers, we only remove a small amount of enamel.

How Much Do They Have to Shave for Veneers?

If you need to have your teeth shaved, we’ll need to shave off around 0.5mm of your tooth’s enamel. Composite veneers often require less shaving, so you’ll need less prep work if composite veneers are a good choice for you. Porcelain crowns compared to veneers require more more tooth reduction.

However, we won’t know if you can get veneers until you come into our office.

There are some rare circumstances where a patient comes into our office with severe tooth decay. If we shave the tooth down after correcting the decay, it can leave the tooth structure too weak to support the veneer. We never want to compromise your tooth’s structure for a veneer because it can lead to your tooth cracking or breaking in the future - something you never want.

What Will Your Natural Teeth Look Like Under Veneers?

Your veneers will cover your existing tooth (or teeth), but after they’re shaved, what will they look like? Shaving your natural teeth will make them look smaller. Your natural tooth will remain, but your:

  • Natural tooth’s shape will look different
  • Natural tooth colour will be slightly different

Veneers are a long-term solution that is irreversible. We cannot restore the enamel that we shave down during the prep process. We only recommend dental veneers when all other options have been exhausted and it’s the best way to restore your smile.

Dental veneers are a fantastic option for anyone who has gaps between their teeth, isn’t happy with their appearance or if the person wants to hide stains on their teeth. If you want to learn if you’re a good candidate for this procedure, schedule a visit with us and we’ll discuss your options with you.

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Dr. Gurpreet Sidhu - Dentist at Lighthouse Dental Centre and Blue Water Dental
Dr. Gurpreet Sidhu

With nearly two decades of experience, Dr. Sidhu enjoys helping his patients learn about dentistry. Knowledge is meant to be improved, challenged and shared.

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