You may be wondering ‘why do veneers need to be replaced’, as you are spending a significant sum on what are designed to be long lasting alternatives to natural teeth.
Well despite our work being outstanding quality, all dental work has a limited lifespan, regardless of whether you have had porcelain or composite veneers in the past. This is typically 10-20 years for ceramic/porcelain veneers and 6-8 years for composite.
How long this would be for you is dependent on how well you and your dentist look after the dental work. That means attending regular dental health visits and seeing your hygienist at the recommended intervals.
Replacing Porcelain and Ceramics
There are two hallmark signs to look out for that mark your porcelain is coming to the end of its life.
- Firstly, the surface polish of the ceramic will fade. This can make your veneers appear as if they have more of a matt or satin finish instead of the desired gloss that our teeth should have.
- Secondly, the edge where the ceramic meets the tooth near the gum can begin to discolour and show signs of age.
Before considering replacement veneers, there are procedures that can prolong the life of aging veneers. This can include re-surfacing the discoloured edges, repolishing the edges and surfaces to extend their life. Your dentist will be able to advise whether it is a sensible option for you.
Once you have decided to replace your porcelain veneers entirely, the steps involved are similar to having veneers for the first time. The difference comes with removing the current/old ceramic. This is a specialised process, which requires the dentist to work under magnification with extreme attention to detail and steady hands.
The method involves stripping back the layers of porcelain in a way that does not damage the natural tooth underneath. There is a heightened risk to the nerve of a tooth each time it is veneered or worked on. Depending on how your dentist approaches removing veneers, this can dramatically increase or decrease the risk of complications.
It is generally accepted that replacement veneers ought to be performed by experienced cosmetic dentists who routinely remove ceramic. Many general and family dentists do not do this routinely and/or do not have the necessary equipment to do so.
The positive outlook is that in many cases veneers can be replaced up to five times before the tooth requires something more supportive, such as a crown. When you change your veneers, you will be able to make improvements to the shape and colour – just describe this to your dentist when discussing your requirements. Often, we find people may choose especially bright colours earlier in life when they first have veneers and in the second set the colour preferred is a little less bright and more natural. Whichever way you decide to go, it is a personal choice for you to make!
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Replacing Composite Resin
Composite resin, bonding, cosmetic bonding, artistic bonding, composite veneers, white fillings… These are all terms used to describe the same procedure: applying a white tooth-like material to teeth by hand to create the desired shape/position.
The material used is described in more detail in the composite bonding section, but the reason that the lifespan of these veneer replacements is much shorter than ceramic/porcelain is that the resin is porous and absorbs moisture and stain from the foods/drinks you consume. Signs of age include discoloration around the edges, fading of the polish and chipping of the material.
Replacing composite veneers also requires the same specialised approach to remove the material without damaging the tooth underneath. The instrument used is steel coated in diamond running up to 200,000RPM, so they can be damaging if used haphazardly. As stated earlier, the best approach will be to find a dentist who handles composite resin veneers daily and focuses their clinic on these procedures.
Replacing composite bonding with fresh resin can swiftly improve the appearance of smiles and reset the lifespan of 6-8 years. One aspect to consider when composite veneers are at the end of their life is if you would prefer to upgrade to ceramic/porcelain, or stay with composite resin. We find ceramic and porcelain to be more stable long-term, whereas composite resin is excellent for young people and small corrections.
The considerations to your situation are unique and should be discussed in detail at your consultation. The decision you make for replacing veneers is usually a long-term one, so we suggest treading carefully and doing the research required to make the right decision.