Alex Mungo lists the pros and cons to consider before offering your patients porcelain veneers.

When a patient visits their dental surgery looking to transform their smile, resolve spaces between teeth or solve a chipped tooth problem, the idea of porcelain veneers is often suggested. While it’s not a catch-all solution to every difficulty, dentists often feel safe in recommending them because of their long-term application and high aesthetic outcome.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of recommending porcelain veneers to your patients.

Pro – quick  procedure to complete

Getting veneers fitted is a relatively quick procedure and is generally offered by many cosmetic dentists however, the planning is all important.

Initially, photographs and a diagnostic wax up is critical to assess the final outcome prior to any active treatment. Without this, porcelain veneers should not be considered. The wax up can be used as a preparation guide, and used to fabricate the provisional veneers. The provisional veneers can be adjusted if required for aesthetic, occlusal, speech and dimension issues with the information relayed to the laboratory for the final veneers.

In most cases, treatment can be completed within three-four weeks.

Pro – it’s a painless process for the patient

The pain of a dental procedure is a huge hurdle for patients to overcome. Going to visit a dentist knowing it’s going to hurt takes mental fortitude.

If the case is planned correctly, the preparation for porcelain veneers should be minimal with the margins ending on enamel rather than dentine. In many cases, little or no anaesthetic is required. This can only be achieved if the alignment of the teeth is correct. If this is not the case, consider pre-treatment orthodontics prior to veneers. The end result will be far better in terms of aesthetics and biology.

Con – possible complaints about sensitive teeth

Porcelain veneer treatment involves highly skilled treatment by the dentist and technician. On aspect of this is the bonding stage, which although sounds straight forward, is technically a challenging process. Most bonding systems are resin based and hence hydrophobic. We must ensure absolute isolation of the teeth surfaces; any contamination can result in a poor bond leading to temperature sensitivity. Prolonged sensitivity will result in removal of the veneers and starting from scratch. An expensive error to make!

Con – there’s no going back

It is imperative that the patient understands that porcelain veneer treatment cannot be reversed. Once the teeth have been prepared, there is no going back. Although the end results can be stunning, we can never guarantee any treatment for life and this must be made crystal clear at the first consultation. Replacement veneers will be required over the years with the attached time and costs involved.