Considering porcelain veneers to enhance your smile but worried they may irreversibly damage natural tooth structure? It’s smart to investigate permanent alterations carefully. Veneers require some enamel removal which is irreversible.
However, when done properly, they are considered a minimally invasive form of smile restoration. They preserve the underlying integrity and health of teeth for decades to come. Moreover, you can also opt for non-prep veneers line lumineers that do not require any tooth enamel removal, leaving your tooth completely intact.
So the only question should have in mind is whether or not veneers are the right cosmetic dental procedure to fix your smile!
What are Porcelain Veneers?
Thin covers that bond directly onto front surface of teeth, veneers solve a variety of cosmetic problems:
- Mask permanent staining or discoloration issues
- Hide gaps, chips or worn enamel
- Correct minor crowding or asymmetry between teeth
- Improve brightness and uniformity of smile
Veneers provide dramatic improvement with relatively little alteration to natural teeth because they only change the visible tooth enamel. Compared to alternatives like crowns or caps that engulf an entire tooth, veneers are far less invasive in most cases.
Signs of Healthy Veneer Integration
- Lack of temperature sensitivity to hot or cold months/years later
- No pockets or gaps forming along gum line or edges
- Minimal complications or need for repairs for 10-20 years
- Continued confidence in smile aesthetics over decades
Still, some tooth reshaping is required for proper placement so patients often ask:
Do veneers ruin your teeth forever?
1. Enamel Removal Amount
Reshaping original enamel is vital so veneers can bond tightly and seamlessly to teeth. But technology improvements allow very conservative layer removal – usually between 0.3-0.7mm on average. This leaves 85-95%+ of intact enamel behind underneath the veneer shells. On the other hand, a crown requires removing 2mm or more tooth structure. So veneers are far less damaging or permanently altering.
Full tooth extraction exposes the inner dentin layer to risks of temperature sensitivity, inflammation and higher decay rates over time without an enamel covering. But veneers strike an optimal balance – removing just enough enamel to place durable bondable porcelain covers that protect underlying dentin. This allows them to integrate beautifully into smiles for decades without further damage or side effects when maintained well.
2. What about the Cement Bonding Process?
The adhesive resin cements used to affix veneers also contain special remineralizing components. These stimulating ingredients can help rebuild remaining enamel and regain lost luster that is microscopically roughened during surface etching preparation prior to placement. Over several months the bonding integration strengthens further. Thus cement adhesives play a therapeutic role too.
3. Do Issues Like Cracks Progress Post-Placement?
A major objective of veneers is to reinforce susceptible teeth and shield from further chewing pressures or sudden trauma that might cause cracks overtime. So veneers actually protect against progressive damage vs accelerating problems when made and placed correctly. Integrity should improve not weaken.
However, pre-existing bites that put excessive grinding forces or imbalances on veneered teeth may still lead to trouble. Nighttime bite guards are often recommended. Also avoidance of hard candy, nails, ice or other teeth shattering items is wise following treatment.
4. What If the Veneer Gets Damaged or Needs Replacement?
While incredibly strong for their thinness, it is possible to chip or crack porcelain veneer shells through accident or trauma. Luckily, unlike lost tooth structure, individual damaged veneers can be repaired or replaced as needed decades later without having to reduce even more original enamel. This demonstrates how conservative they are versus permanent cap or crown options.
Try no-prep or minimal-prep veneers
Lumineers and other no-prep veneers are a great conservative option for patients worried about altering natural teeth too much with regular dental veneers.
However, they may not be suitable for all types of dental cases. Generally, patients with the following traits tend to be suitable for no-prep veneers:
- Teeth that are already relatively straight and properly aligned
- Minor staining, small chips or gaps as main issues rather than major size/shape flaws
- Sufficient existing enamel thickness and structure
- Decent bites without excessive grinding, clenching or other occlusal strains
In these instances, the natural underlying tooth foundation already has nice dimension and form. Therefore reshaping/enamel-shaving is far less critical for ideal veneer placement and longevity. As long as some enamel roughening occurs for bonding adhesion, veneer shells can enhance smiles beautifully with no (or only tiny) trimming necessary.
Why Avoid Preparations in Borderline Veneer Cases?
Any reduction of natural enamel exposes more underlying dentin and risks temperature sensitivity or cracks over the long run. So when possible, ultra-conservative no-prep veneering better preserves tooth integrity. The thin translucent porcelain masks imperfections wonderfully while adding protection.
However, dentists may still recommend a little reshaping or minimal prep in trickier cases where teeth exhibit slight asymmetry, irregular edges or uneven surfaces that could compromise bonding. Added enamel removal in the 0.3mm range ensures smoother fit. But staying under 0.5mm total means you still qualify as a minimal-prep case rather than a full prep. Talk with your dentist about where you fall on the spectrum to guide appropriate veneer options.
In an ideal world, every patient would opt for no-prep or minimal-prep veneers to limit enamel removal amounts and side effects. However, reasonable cases exist on both ends of the preparation spectrum depending on individual tooth conditions and desired corrections. An experienced cosmetic dentist can assess your unique scenario to clarify advisable solutions for maximizing long term dental wellness and smile aesthetics.
The takeaway is that properly chosen patient candidates and precise technique by an expert cosmetic dentist leads to long-term veneer success and satisfaction without accelerating tooth problems later on. While no restorative work comes without some risk, dental veneers offer a longevity and lifelike quality unmatched by most other options for smile enhancement.
This should give reassurance that veneers do not inherently ruin teeth when done carefully. In fact, quite the opposite. They actively promote protection and function when made as minimally invasive as possible.