What are porcelain veneers?


hile the teeth of the average American aren’t anywhere as aesthetically flawed as those of most people around the world, no one’s teeth are perfect. Your smile could be a bit too gummy. There may be a gap between a couple teeth. Maybe you have a tooth with a chip or crack. Fixing these issues would involve lengthy, expensive procedures such as orthodontics. Instead, you could have a perfect smile in just two office visits with porcelain veneers. Porcelain veneers from Dr. Frey can cover a variety of aesthetic issues and give you a beautiful smile. Porcelain veneers are thin, porcelain shells placed over the front of your natural teeth to alter the tooth angle, shape, size, and color. Some people refer to porcelain veneers as “instant orthodontics” because they can correct spacing and alignment issues with the teeth that would normally require orthodontics. Dr. Frey only uses porcelain veneers because they closely resemble the shine and slight translucence of your natural teeth. As the name implies, dental veneers are similar in concept to the veneers that may cover a dresser in your bedroom. In furniture, a veneer of higher quality wood is put on top of the underlying lesser quality wood to make the piece look perfect, yet not be as costly as if the entire piece was made of the expensive wood.

Dr. Frey discusses veneers
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Frequently Asked Questions.

If you want to learn even more, we invite you to reach out for a free smile consultation where we can answer all of your questions in depth.

I Still Have Questions

What is the recovery from the Lumineers procedure?

There isn’t any recovery after having Dr. Frey place Lumineers on your teeth. As mentioned above, this is a painless process. The teeth receiving the Lumineers usually only require a minor etching before placement. That is painless and doesn’t create any post-placement pain. Immediately after Dr. Frey places your Lumineers, you can get right back to your normal life and show off your beautiful new smile to the world.

Is the Lumineers procedure painful?

Receiving Lumineers is completely pain-free. It’s not necessary to remove the amount enamel necessary for porcelain veneers, which can lead to tooth sensitivity and some discomfort during the tooth preparation. Lumineers are so thin, that’s not necessary. There isn’t any pain in any part of the process.

Are there risk associated with the Lumineers procedure?

Lumineers are generally a very low-risk option for giving you a beautiful smile. There are some risks, but these are often the result of a lack of expertise on the dentist placing them. Dr. Frey offers both Lumineers and traditional porcelain veneers because he knows each patient has unique needs.

The main risk with Lumineers is over-contouring, or the teeth with Lumineers appearing bulkier or larger than normal. This is a result of not removing as much tooth enamel (0.2 mm versus 0.5 mm) with Lumineers.

Also, because Lumineers don’t remove too much enamel, lesser applications can leave a ridge at the top of the veneer. This can be a place for bacteria to accumulate, which can lead to decay and chronic bad breath.

If the Lumineers are placed slightly above the gum line, this can lead to gum irritation and possible gum disease. Again, this is a problem with poor placement by the dentist.

What should I expect during my consultation with Dr. Frey?

Dr. Frey is a Certified Lumineers Dentist, giving him the extensive experience and knowledge for proper fitting and application of this alternative to traditional porcelain veneers. Still, when you come in for your consultation, Dr. Frey doesn’t seek to push patients toward one or the other. This is the time for a complete back-and-forth exchange of information between the two of you.

Lumineers aren’t right for everyone. Some people don’t like the feel of the added bulk created by Lumineers because they don’t require removing much of the tooth enamel prior to placing them.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both Lumineers and porcelain veneers, and Dr. Frey’s goal during your consultation is to find which option is best for you. That’s why we provide both of these smile-beautifying options at our office.

How long does the Lumineers procedure take?

Having Lumineers placed takes two appointments with Dr. Frey. The first appointment has two goals: create a precise mold of your teeth to send to DenMat to create your Lumineers, and to select the shade of your Lumineers. This process takes less than an hour.

The second appointment is where Dr. Frey places your new custom-made Lumineers. He first checks the color match and fit of each Lumineer. Once everything looks right, he permanently attaches the Lumineers. This is painless and takes about an hour.

How long do Lumineers last?

Lumineers have been improving smiles for 30 years, and over one million sets have been placed on patients’ teeth. Research has proven that Lumineers provide long-term aesthetic smile improvement without discoloration or degeneration. Clinical testing has shown the average lifespan of a set of Lumineers to be 20 years, with no special maintenance required.

This is longer than Porcelain veneers, which generally last from 10 to 15 years. Since the underlying enamel is not removed for the procedure, the natural tooth is usually intact and strong, allowing the Lumineers to be removed if necessary.

What are the benefits of Lumineers?

Like porcelain veneers, Lumineers can provide a cosmetic solution to many problems with the teeth. It’s important to remember that, like porcelain veneers, Lumineers are only cosmetic solutions. They don’t solve underlying problems such as decay or gum disease; those issues must be addressed before Lumineers can be applied. Lumineers have many benefits. They can:

  • Improve the appearance of crooked, misaligned teeth
  • Cover cracked or chipped teeth
  • Cover gaps between teeth
  • Whiten stained teeth
  • Improve misshapen teeth
  • Make uneven teeth even

What are Lumineers?

Lumineers are veneers. But compared with traditional porcelain veneers, Lumineers are thinner (approximately 0.3 mm) and highly translucent. This allows them to replicate the natural appearance of enamel. Applying Lumineers doesn’t require removal of the existing tooth enamel before placement. They are simply bonded over natural teeth, or existing crowns and bridges. This makes the procedure painless, fast, and reversible, should the patient opt to make a change later in life.

Why does Dr. Frey use a trial smile?

It’s simple: because you may need time to adjust to the size and shape of your new teeth. This also provides the chance to tweak and modify your smile before it becomes permanent, making the permanent smile truly perfect.

Can I see what my new smile will look like?

Thanks to our computer imaging capability, we can show you exactly what your teeth will look like with porcelain veneers before we even make the appointment. We design your new smile during your first visit to the office. Computer imaging will help determine the best shape for your new smile, from square to more round. From our Smile Catalog, you can choose from various options. Then you can see what they will look like in what we call your “trial smile.” Once the best smile is chosen, our lab will produce a diagnostic wax mockup for you to see and hold. This is the most important step in choosing a new smile.


Can you explain porcelain veneers vs. dental bonding?

For those looking to get the similar cosmetic benefits of porcelain veneers at a lower cost, dental bonding may be a good alternative treatment. Dental bonding is a more conservative treatment that requires less tooth reduction than veneers. The process of tooth bonding is much simpler than veneers. The downside to dental bonding is that the bonding material is not as strong as porcelain and doesn’t last as long.

How long do porcelain veneers last?

On average, you can expect your porcelain veneers to last from seven to 20 years. Their durability can be impacted by the health of the underlying teeth and surrounding gum tissue. If a veneer does come off, it can usually be re-bonded to the tooth.

It is important to understand that porcelain veneers are a lifetime arrangement. Because enamel is removed from your teeth to place the veneers, your teeth cannot be left without a veneer covering the front. Once your veneers have reached the end of their lifespan you’ll need to have new veneers applied.

Is treatment painful?

If you have particularly sensitive teeth, you may want a local anesthetic while Dr. Frey shaves off the tiny amount of enamel. Most patients don’t need any anesthetic. The process of placing the veneers onto your teeth is painless. Due to the enamel that has been shaved down, some people have increased sensitivity to hot and cold after receiving their veneers. This is fleeting, resolving itself in just a few days.

What can I expect during treatment?

It takes two visits with Dr. Frey to place your veneers, beyond the initial consultation.

Visit One:

The first visit prepares your teeth for your veneers. We begin by thoroughly cleaning your teeth. If your enamel is stained, we may want to perform a whitening procedure to return your teeth to their natural color before choosing the porcelain shade to match. Dr. Frey uses a shade guide to choose the porcelain color that is the best match for your natural teeth.

Next, the teeth are physically prepared to hold the veneers. This involves shaving a thin amount (from 0.3 to 0.5 mm) of the tooth enamel off the front of each tooth receiving a veneer. This is necessary to make room for the veneer so that your teeth don’t become thicker with a veneer applied to the top of the tooth. Once we’ve shaved off the necessary enamel, we take impressions of your teeth and send them off to the dental lab to use in the creation of your veneers. We include photographs of your teeth, as well, to aid in color matching. The fabrication takes around two weeks and we apply temporary veneers to protect your teeth until your permanent veneers are ready.

Visit Two:

When your veneers are finished you return for your second appointment. Dr. Frey first checks the veneers for fit and color match, shaving off areas as needed. Once the two of you are satisfied, Dr. Frey applies permanent cement and cures it with an argon laser to permanently bond the veneers to your teeth. Applying porcelain veneers can take 2 to 3 hours, depending on the number of veneers being applied. Now you can show your perfect smile to the world!

What is the difference between porcelain veneers and Lumineers?

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to porcelain veneers and Lumineers. The main difference between the two is how much tooth structure needs to be removed to apply the veneer. Lumineers are able to go right over the tooth with little to no prepping, whereas porcelain veneers require that the tooth structure be shaved down. The actual veneer is identical. Lumineers are great for patients with small teeth who want them larger or patients with worn teeth, spaces or gaps. Lumineers are not good for people with large teeth and crowding; these patients should opt for porcelain veneers.

What are the advantages of porcelain veneers?

Veneers can be made of composite resin, but Dr. Frey only uses porcelain veneers for a variety of reasons. Porcelain veneers are very strong, very hard, highly durable, and have a high resistance to staining. They also have the glassiness and translucence that is very close to natural tooth materials.

How are dental veneers made?

Your dental veneers are fabricated in a dental lab. They are made in layers by mixing porcelain powder matching the color of your natural teeth with water. The layer is then fired in an oven like a porcelain dish. Then the layers are pressed together in a process known as lamination.

What problems can porcelain veneers help fix?

Porcelain veneers are perfect to correct these cosmetic issues with your teeth:

  • Gaps or misaligned teeth
  • Unevenly or irregularly sized or shaped teeth
  • Chipped teeth
  • Teeth with minor cracks
  • Badly discolored teeth from drug reactions

On that last point, certain drugs such as tetracycline have permanently stained the teeth of many children. These stains can’t be rectified with whitening programs because the staining is in the dentin, the layer beneath the enamel. Veneers will cover this staining.

Who is a candidate?

It’s important to note that porcelain veneers don’t correct the underlying problems with your teeth; they merely cover them. So, if your issues are cosmetic, veneers can be a great, long-term answer. If your problems are more involved, porcelain veneers may not be the right solution. For instance, if your teeth are crooked enough to create bite problems, orthodontics will be necessary to fix those problems. If a crack in a tooth is bad enough to jeopardize the structure of the tooth, a veneer isn’t the right answer; a crown is probably needed.

If your issues with uneven teeth or stained teeth are merely cosmetic, Dr. Frey uses porcelain veneers to provide long-lasting improvement. Veneers look great, are very strong, and can last anywhere from 7 to 20 years before needing to be replaced.

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