By Amy Clark for Adore Beauty
As a reformed pen-chewer and nail biter of more than 20 years, I’ve spent a lot of time and money at the dentist.
My teeth woes actually started when I face-planted and broke my two front teeth in half playing basketball in primary school, but I reckon I’ve had my fillings done and re-done at least a dozen times since that fateful day.
I’ll be straight with you. Whenever I’d go to the dentist to get my chipped teeth fixed, I’d ask for whatever patch job would A) be the quickest and B) cost the least amount of money.
I’d never even considered dental veneers (or understood what they actually are) until I came across Melbourne-based Dental & Skin Clinic on Instagram via this highly attractive, hilarious video of my colleague Joanna.
A few weeks later, I found myself lounging in a dental chair watching Netflix and listening to 90s RnB music as Dental & Skin Clinic director and facial cosmetic dentist Dr Rita Trak fitted me with permanent composite veneers.
When I posted about it on my own Instagram, I received a bunch of messages from people wanting to know what getting veneers is *really* like.
How much are veneers? Does it hurt? What do teeth look like under veneers? Are veneers permanent?
So, I popped all of those questions into a Google doc and politely asked Dr Rita to please break down the truth about veneers and what they can (and can’t) do for your smile.
Here are Dr Rita’s answers to every single question you’ve ever had about dental veneers, plus a recap of my own experience – including my veneers before and after photos!
*For transparency, I paid for my veneers treatment but kindly received a media discount.
What Are Veneers & What Dental Issues Can They ‘Fix’?
“Veneers are a cosmetic treatment to enhance the way our smile looks,” Dr Rita says.
“A shell or facing as thin as your fingernail is applied onto the front surface of your tooth in order to enhance the way the tooth looks, to make the overall smile look fresher and healthier.”
“They work by uplifting the colour, shape and alignment of teeth, enhancing gappy smiles, gummy smiles, crooked teeth and broken down teeth. Not to mention, the life-changing confidence veneers bring to people.”
Are There Different Types of Veneers?
There are two common types of dental veneers: composite veneers and porcelain veneers.
“The terms composite veneers (also sometimes referred to as ‘bonded veneers’) and porcelain veneers relate to the material the veneer is made out of.”
“How long the veneers last, how natural the veneers look, the veneers cost and how much maintenance is involved all come down to the material the veneers are made of.”
Composite Veneers vs Porcelain Veneers.
Whether you pick composite veneers or porcelain veneers depends on your teeth, the result you’re after, how you want them to look, how long you want them to last and your budget.
Dr Rita says, “With composite veneers, you’ll get around a 20 per cent overall improvement in your smile. This option is good for if you want subtle improvements to your smile – the drama is in the subtlety.”
“Porcelain veneers deliver about an 80 per cent improvement in your smile. Porcelain veneers are great for clients who want a big improvement in the appearance of their smile.”
“These clients may be feeling self conscious to show their teeth when they’re talking and posing in photos, and porcelain veneers are typically something my clients have been thinking about doing for a long time.”
How Do Veneers Work?
This all depends on the type of veneers you choose and where you go, but here’s a recap of the veneers process at Dental & Skin Clinic.
Porcelain veneers are created in five appointments over five weeks:
1. Cosmetic Consultation – Moulds are taken of the teeth and clients undergo the Essential Dental Clean service.
2. Trial Smile Appointment – The client is fitted with temporary veneers made out of acrylic that act as a blueprint for the permanent porcelain veneers. This step allows clients to test drive their new and improved smile before committing to their permanent smile makeover.
3. Feedback Appointment – Client provides feedback about the appearance and feel of the temporary veneers.
4. Permanent Porcelain Veneers Appointment – We fit the client with their stunning veneers and new, permanent smile. These porcelain veneers are hand-designed and hand-layered using layers of fine powdered porcelain.
5. Fine Tuning Appointment – Any minor adjustments and recontouring are made to finesse your smile makeover.
By comparison, composite veneers can be done in one appointment, with a follow up appointment for fine tuning and/or teeth whitening.
Dr Rita adds, “A soft blob of composite material (with a similar texture to dough) is shaped onto each tooth, cured with a setting light to make it strong and hard, shaped as desired and then polished.”
Are Veneers Permanent?
“Both composite and porcelain veneers are considered to be irreversible, permanent procedures. You can’t ever ‘go back’, but I’ve never had a client ever regret getting veneers.”
How Long Do Veneers Last?
“Porcelain veneers are expected to last on average for 15 years, and composite veneers are expected to last on average for three years.”
How Many Veneers Do You Need?
Dr Rita reckons this is one of the most common questions she gets asked, “and the answer is always ‘it depends on how white you want your new smile to be.'”
You can get veneers on your top teeth, or bottom teeth, or both, depending on your concerns and budget.
Dr Rita recommends a minimum of four veneers to get the most natural-looking result.
For context, here’s the difference in overall appearance achieved with just four composite veneers on my front four teeth.
Does It Hurt to Get Veneers?
Personally, I didn’t find the process of getting veneers painful at all. A little uncomfortable at times? Sure. But no pain.
I chose not to use any numbing products, however Dental & Skin Clinic give clients the option of DentaPen, a numbing device Dr Rita says is “a pain-free alternative to the traditional dental injection.”
The treatment took a couple of hours and was fairly relaxing. Probably the worst bit was me dribbling on myself thanks to this sexy mouthpiece.
How Much Are Veneers?
How much do veneers cost, you ask? Depends on the type of veneers (composite vs porcelain) and how many teeth are involved.
Specifically, how much are porcelain veneers and how much are composite veneers?
Every clinic will have their own veneers price, but to compare, Dr Rita explains a set of four composite veneers could cost $4,000 versus $8,000 for a set of four porcelain veneers.
What Do Teeth Look Like Under Veneers?
The actual question in my DMs was “are your natural teeth filed into little triangles?”, but Dr Rita says that’s a misconception.
“How your teeth look under veneers depends on the starting point of your smile and the results you’re after. Factors include things like: Are your front teeth protruding forwards or tucked in? Are your front teeth healthy or do you have old fillings? Do you have a gappy or gummy smile? Is your smile crooked?”
In my experience, a small amount of each tooth was shaved or smoothed back to give the composite material an optimal surface to bind to.
But no pointy triangles here. Phew.
Do Veneers Ruin Your Natural Teeth?
“It’s a myth that veneers damage your natural teeth, because they in fact protect them.”
Veneers Before & After.
Again, your veneers before and after results depend on how many veneers you get and in what material.
After my consultation, we decided composite veneers best suited my budget and needs.
I had a set of four composite veneers to improve the appearance of my front four teeth that were chipped and discoloured.
Here’s a look at my composite veneers before and after results.
The main thing I worried about prior to the treatment was whether my teeth would look fake or overly white/perfect.
But Dr Rita assured me ‘good’ veneers shouldn’t look or feel chunky, thick, uncomfortable, fake-looking or bulky.
Rather than looking like you’ve ‘had veneers’, the goal is a result that’s natural-looking and undetectable (depending on your starting point).
I was shocked by how much of a difference the subtle results made to my smile. I even asked friends and colleagues to guess what I’d had done, and no one picked it.
Everyone was surprised by how much the veneers looked like my teeth, but better.
Can You Whiten Veneers?
Dr Rita says you can’t actually whiten veneers, because the process would damage them.
In my case, the desired colour of the composite material was chosen a few shades whiter than my natural teeth. Then, I had a follow up appointment with in-chair hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening to match the rest of my natural teeth to the shade of my veneers.
Can Veneers Get Stained?
Dr Rita adds, “The colour of porcelain veneers won’t change, but if you have old composite veneers that have stained over the years, the only way to make them whiter is to replace them with either a new set of composite veneers, or with porcelain veneers.”
“Also, be aware of celebrities with super white smiles marketing teeth whitening products, because most of them have porcelain veneers. It’s false advertising. When you whiten your teeth at the dentist, we’re aiming for a 20 per cent improvement in colour. Anything more than that can only be achieved with porcelain veneers.”
Veneers Side Effects.
The most common complication is the teeth can temporarily feel sensitive, which is “totally normal and expected,” and often occurs in teeth with previous fillings.
Dr Rita told me sensitivity could feel a bit like a lightening bolt in your tooth, but that 90 per cent of the time, the sensitivity goes away on its own.
How to Look After Veneers.
“Maintenance is no different to what we recommend for our teeth generally: A professional dental clean two to three times per year and good oral hygiene practice at home.”
Can You Eat & Drink Normally After Getting Veneers?
One of the most common questions around veneers is whether you’ll have to avoid any foods forever.
Aside from very hard foods (e.g. hard sugar lollies or toffies), it’s less about the types of foods you eat and more about how you eat them.
“We have a saying at Dental & Skin Clinic, ‘jewels at the front, tools at the back’, meaning your front teeth are for looking good and your back teeth are for chewing and biting.”
“We recommend cutting hard foods like carrots and apples into wedges and using your side teeth to bite into them. It’s a small adjustment but our clients get used to it almost immediately.”
Who Can Get Veneers?
Dr Rita says, “A suitable candidate for veneers is someone who has good oral hygiene and goes to the dentist two to three times per year for their professional dental clean, who wants a fresher and healthier-looking smile.”
She also explains veneers can be placed on root canal teeth and over fillings, as well as over crooked teeth.
Who Shouldn’t Get Veneers?
If you have bad oral hygiene or have a habit of biting your nails or chewing on pens, veneers probably aren’t the best option for you.
Best Advice For Getting Dental Veneers.
Dr Rita shares a few things to consider and questions to ask when choosing your dentist for veneers:
“Ask the dentist how much of what they do is veneers. They might only do a handful of smile makeovers per year, but you want a dentist who spends most of their time doing smile makeovers.”
“Ask to see their work. Veneers should look natural and every set should look like it suits the face and smile it was created for. And finally, make sure you’re doing this for you.”