A dental veneer (sometimes called a shell) is a thin covering that is placed over the front of the teeth. Veneers are made from ceramic, porcelain, resin-based composite, or acrylic. Custom-made shells are created by dental lab technicians and permanently bonded to the teeth.
In most cases, dental veneers are an elective dental procedure. This means they are not medically necessary. You might choose to have veneers if you have teeth that are:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your dentist will review potential problems, like:
Talk to your dentist about these risks before the procedure. If you grind or clench your teeth, your dentist may recommend a nighttime bite guard to protect your veneers.
If you are interested in getting dental veneers, you can meet with your dentist to discuss:
Your dentist will explain the procedure and anything you should do to prepare.
You will have a local anesthetic for some parts of the procedure. This means that the dentist will numb only the part of your mouth that is being worked on.
Depending on the kind of veneer you choose, you may need to make several visits to the dentist before your veneers are complete.
To make room for the veneers, the top layer of enamel will be removed from your teeth. A local anesthetic, which may a gel that is rubbed on your gums or an injection, may be given. The dentist will take a mold of your teeth and send it to a dental lab. The lab will make veneers to fit your teeth. This may take several days.
At your next visit, a mild chemical will be put on your teeth. This will create a rough surface for the veneer to bond to. The veneers will be carefully attached to your teeth using special cement. In some cases, a light-sensitive resin will be used to attach the veneer. A special light will be used to cure and harden the resin.
The procedure will take several hours. You may have to wait a few days between visits for your veneers to be created in a dental lab.
You may have some minor pain. You will be given a local anesthetic for some steps of the procedure. Talk to your dentist if your mouth is sore after the procedure. An over-the-counter pain reliever may be advised.
You will be able to leave right after the procedure.
When you return home:
Floss between your teeth at least once a day.
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Call your dentist if a veneer chips or cracks.
American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry
Mouth Heatlhy—American Dental Association
Canadian Academy for Esthetic Dentistry
Canadian Dental Association
Bonding & veneers. Canadian Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.cda-adc.ca/en/oral_health/procedures/bonding_veneers. Accessed March 5, 2018.
For the dental patient. Improving your smile with dental veneers. J Am Dent Assoc. 2003;134(8):1147.
Veneers. Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association website. Available at: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/v/veneers. Accessed March 5, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Monica Zangwill, MD, MPH