Veneers are thin teeth covers that are attached to the front surface of your teeth to cover imperfections and protect enamel. They are becoming increasingly popular in the US thanks to their affordability compared to other restorative options.
Both composite and porcelain veneers are available, each having its own advantages and disadvantages. We will explain more about the different types available later in this article. Whichever type you choose, the fitting process is quick and usually painless.
In this guide, we will cover the following:
- Types of veneers and costs
- Reasons to get them
- Fitting process
So keep reading to find out whether this could be the best way for you to get a smile you can show off with confidence!
Table of contents
Types of veneers and cost
How much do veneers cost?
Composite veneers cost from $250 – $1,200 and porcelain veneers cost from $500 – $2,500. It's a big variance but, as with most cosmetic dentistry, the cost depends on each patient's needs.
Types of veneers
By far the most durable type of tooth veneer is one which is made from a porcelain or ceramic material. Although wafer thin, these can be expected to last 10-20 years. Zirconia porcelain veneers can provide extra strength for slightly damaged teeth that don't need a crown.
Porcelain is stain-resistant and the translucency of the material means they closely resemble natural teeth.
The fact that they are hand-made in a laboratory means there is less onus on the dentist in the procedure. However, they must still be skilled at placing each piece correctly.
The porcelain veneer cost is the biggest drawback, which is usually at least double that of composite. They also require some of your healthy tooth enamel to be removed, so that the veneer can fit properly. This means you are committing to a lifetime of veneers or some other teeth covering.
Composites are significantly cheaper than porcelain teeth, but in return, the esthetic appearance can be less convincing. They aren't expected to last as long either, with a life span of up to 5 years. After this time, the material may start to chip away or stain and become unsightly.
Nevertheless, composites are a solution that can be very useful as an inexpensive alternative while saving up for porcelain. In this case, they may be referred to as ‘temporary veneers', even if worn for several months or years.
It may be possible to fit composites without removing any enamel from the healthy tooth – particularly in cases where the patient wants to fix a tooth that is too short or small, or cover a chipped tooth. For many people, this is a big benefit because it means the treatment is fully reversible.
The end result is highly dependent on the skills of the cosmetic dentist, so be sure to check their previous work before going ahead.
The table below summarizes the main differences between composite and porcelain veneers for teeth:
Cost per tooth
$250 to $1,200
$500 to $2,500
Fairly natural but may stain
Like natural teeth, no staining
Number of appointments
Usually just 1
2 or 3
Around 5 years
10 to 20 years
Damage to existing teeth
Possible filing & enamel removal
Filing & enamel removal required except for Lumineers
Ways to save money on veneer costs
Although budget is an important consideration, don't simply look at the cost when choosing a dentist to provide your treatment. You should search for a recognized professional with significant experience in this cosmetic procedure.
If you have private health insurance with a dental insurance plan you should check to see if your policy covers any cosmetic treatments. Usually, base-level plans do not, but more expensive plans often reimburse at least some of the cost. Read more in our guide to dental insurance for veneers, and our guide to cosmetic dental insurance.
An alternative way to get cheaper veneers is to consider traveling abroad to a country where cosmetic dentistry is more affordable.
Mexico and Costa Rica are popular destinations for cheaper veneers for people traveling from North America. Others travel to Thailand or the Philippines for a dental vacation. Read more about traveling overseas for dental work in our complete guide to dental tourism.
If you only have minor cosmetic problems with your teeth, you may be a suitable candidate for teeth filing. This treatment simply removes small areas of enamel to make teeth appear more even.
Finally, you could consider snap-on veneers like Instasmile, although you should first consider the risks of pursuing an option that doesn't involve dentists. TruSmile is another popular snap-on brand. Read TruSmile veneer reviews.
If you'd like to get a more precise estimate for the cost of your veneers, you can call 866-383-0748 and speak to a dentist in your area.
How veneers are fitted
After your initial consultation where you can explain your problem and your expectations, your cosmetic dentist will take photos and may create a dental impression of your existing teeth. He might also perform an x-ray of the mouth to check the current tooth condition.
Your dentist will also check for problems such as gum disease which may need to be addressed before treatment commences.
If you are happy to go ahead with the proposed treatment, your dentist will begin preparatory work. This usually involves ‘trimming' a thin layer of enamel off the tooth or teeth to make them the right height and size for the veneers to attach to. With some types of veneer, no enamel removal is necessary.
This process shouldn't be painful as there are no nerves present in the enamel. However, your dentist may administer an anesthetic as a precaution.
If the ultimate goal is whiter teeth but you are not having all your teeth covered, you may need a dental cleaning and tooth whitening on surrounding teeth before treatment begins. If veneers are color-matched to whitened teeth, you'll have to keep up a regular teeth whitening schedule. Otherwise, the natural teeth will start to look like yellow teeth in comparison.
When it comes to porcelain veneers, the process takes longer. This is because each veneer must be individually crafted in a laboratory. Expect this to take anywhere from 1-3 weeks.
After your teeth are filed down, your dentist will take a dental impression using putty. This imprint is used to ensure the veneers are a perfect fit.
You should be given temporary veneers at this point to protect the prepared teeth and reduce sensitivity while you await the permanent ones. Speak to your dentist about your options.
Once your porcelain veneers are ready, you will have your next appointment. Your dentist will thoroughly clean your teeth again and use acid to roughen the surface of both the tooth and the veneer. A strong dental adhesive is used to secure the caps in place.
Fitting or creating veneers for teeth is a precise art and may take one or two hours depending on the number of teeth being treated. In some cases, this is done under local anesthetic.
Ideally, a rubber dam should be used to isolate the tooth/teeth being worked on. This keeps the surface dry, as any moisture may interfere with the bonding agent.
Composite veneers are often applied in one visit. The dentist roughens the tooth surface with acid and then puts a dental bonding agent (glue) on the teeth.
They then build up the composite material in thin layers, gradually forming the tooth to the required shape. The paste is hardened at each stage using a special lamp.
Once both you and your dentist are happy with the look, color, and shape of the veneer, the surface is polished so it looks and feels like a natural tooth.
Veneers before and after
Some of the results achieved are quite astounding, often completely transforming a person's smile. You may hear the procedure referred to as a ‘Hollywood smile makeover‘. Before and after photos show how much a smile can alter a person's face.
During your initial consultation with any dental professional (sometimes part of a digital smile design consultation), be sure to ask to see before and after photos of their previous patients. This is a good way to check the quality of their work – especially in terms of how natural it looks.
In the video below you can see patients' smiles after getting treatment including teeth veneers before and after:
There are some brands of veneer that offer specific benefits.
Lumineers veneers have an ultra-thin design which means they can improve the cosmetic appearance of existing teeth without the need for any filing. They are typically more expensive, but last for 20 years or more and can later be removed without any permanent damage to the teeth. Fitting takes place over two visits.
CEREC (CEramic REConstruction) veneers are not made by hand but are precisely cut using advanced computer technology based on scans of the patient's mouth.
These can be made by your dentist while you wait, meaning you can have custom-made teeth in a single visit. However, the appearance may not be as natural as with lab-made ones.
CEREC costs are similar to standard porcelain because although there are no lab fees to pay, the computer equipment is very expensive.
Technology is improving all the time so your dentist may have other solutions on offer as well.
Reasons to get veneers
Did you know that one out of four adults avoid social events because they feel self-conscious about their smiles?
Nobody should have to feel bad about the esthetics of their smile, and tooth veneers are just one of the many things people with poor oral esthetics can do to gain back their confidence. In 2006, around 600,000 people had veneers, and that number has since continued to grow.
Tooth veneers can achieve a number of results:
- Change tooth color: Sometimes teeth can have a dull or yellowish color, whether naturally or due to lifestyle choices (smoking, coffee, wine, etc.) Tooth discoloration can also be the result of medical treatments (for example repeated high dose antibiotics as a child) or trauma which kills the nerves inside. Traditional whitening treatments may deliver unsatisfactory results in some cases, or a patient's teeth may be too sensitive to proceed with whitening.
- Alter shape of teeth: Teeth can be naturally too small or too short, causing you to be self-conscious about smiling. This technique allows you to remodel the shape of your smile and efficiently even out differences.
- Repair chipped teeth: Many people have small chips in their teeth, which, although not medically problematic, they feel conscious of.
- Cover up misalignment: Veneers do not move or straighten teeth like orthodontics, but they can be used to remove gaps and correct the appearance of misaligned or irregular teeth. However, this treatment is not recommended for younger patients since it removes so much healthy enamel and can't be reversed. In these cases, orthodontic treatment is preferable. Fortunately, the wide variety of braces available today means this needn't involve too much or any ‘metal mouth'.
- Repair damage caused by bruxism: Veneers may be an option to repair damaged teeth caused by teeth grinding, but it depends on the severity of the damage and the bruxism. Applying porcelain covers not only restores the cosmetic appearance but protects teeth from sensitivity to hot and cold. But, patients will need to receive follow-up treatment for the problem.
- Strengthen teeth with weakened enamel: If you have sensitive teeth or translucent teeth, it may be from too thin enamel, which can also eventually lead to problems like decay.
Porcelain veneers are sometimes referred to as instant orthodontics because of how quickly they can change or enhance your smile. Patients who have crooked, chipped, stained teeth, or other cosmetic flaws, can use veneers to get a smile they’re confident with almost instantly.
Veneers are tooth-colored coverings that are placed on the front of a tooth. However, they are not the same as other procedures, like crowns, because they only cover the front of the natural teeth. The best part of veneers is that they don’t require special care, you just have to commit to a strict oral hygiene routine, being sure to brush at least twice a day and floss once per day to keep them clean and stain-free.
Dr. Ania Mohelicki, Dr. Ania
Caring for veneers
Your gums will be pushed back slightly during the fitting procedure so they may be sore for a few days. Once they return to normal you should carry out your regular oral care routine.
Don't worry about losing your dental veneers while brushing or flossing – they have been very firmly attached!
We recommend you follow these tips to keep your new teeth looking great:
- Use a quality toothbrush and change it regularly
- Floss every day and use a dental spray or mouthwash
- Visit your dentist regularly for tooth cleaning and tartar removal
- If you're fond of tea, coffee, and wine, be extra careful with your teeth cleaning – especially if you opted for composites which can stain more easily
- If you're a smoker – stop! Tobacco is another cause of tooth staining.
Caring for your teeth is not optional: just because you have an amazing new smile doesn’t mean you should neglect your dental hygiene.
On the contrary, you now have a reason to take even better care of your teeth than before. The lifespan of your teeth veneers is largely down to how well you care for them and your teeth.
Veneers vs. crowns vs. implants
While tooth veneers are a good solution for improving the cosmetic appearance of teeth, they are not a restorative solution for decayed or heavily damaged teeth.
A dental crown is often the best way to restore a tooth that has damage to its structure. This covers the whole tooth, rather than just the front, and acts as a protective layer against further damage.
Severely damaged teeth may have to be extracted, and in this case, a dental implant or bridge can be fitted to fill the gap. A dental implant acts as a root inserted into the jaw bone, and as such is the best way to avoid long-term bone loss from a missing tooth. However, it is also the most expensive prosthetic tooth option.
Whichever solution you are considering, your dentist will be happy to discuss the options with you. It could be easier than you realized to achieve a smile you're proud of.
Dental veneers near me
To find a dentist in your area that offers veneers, you can call 866-383-0748. Chances are that your local dentist also offers veneers, but you may want to call around to make sure you get the best price.
If you want a smile makeover, dental veneers are one option. You'll need to choose between porcelain and composite veneers, and the decision will depend on your budget, the look you want to achieve, and how long you want the treatment to last.
Be aware that most types of veneers require some tooth enamel to be removed in preparation. This means your teeth are permanently changed and can't go back to how they were before.
If you're unsure about your decision, you may still be able to significantly approve the esthetics of your teeth with less invasive treatment such as braces, whitening and tooth filing.
Whatever you decide, we hope this guide has helped you make a more informed decision about which treatment is right for you.
Are there dentists that do veneers near me?
Many general dentists offer veneers as part of their services, although you may choose to go to a dentist that specializes in cosmetic dentistry. You can also call 866-383-0748. You'll be connected with a dentist near you right away.
How do I find affordable veneers near me?
Quality porcelain veneers can cost up to $2,500, and insurance isn't likely to cover costs for cosmetic dentistry. However, you can ask your dentist about options like discount plans and payment plans.
NCBI: Oral health literacy and oral health outcomes in an adult population in Brazil. Consulted 22nd February 2023.
Sporting Smiles: Will teeth whitening gel work on veneers or crowns? Consulted 22nd February 2023.
Sunstar: Global healthy Thinking Report 2021. Consulted 22nd February 2023.
ADA.org: Oral Health and Well-Being in the United States. Consulted 22nd February 2023.