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Lumineers™ vs. Traditional Veneers?  That is the Question!

By Dr. James Wright

Many people are confused about the difference between Lumineers and traditional veneers and how to know what is right for them.  They want to know if Lumineers and traditional veneers will be able to fix gaps, stains, chips, etc?  The good news is that no matter how unattractive your teeth are; crooked, chipped, discolored, or merely worn down, there are several ways to correct dental issues.  Two permanent and easy ways to have what is referred to as a “Hollywood Smile” are Lumineers and traditional veneers.

Another question I frequently hear is: “how long will it take?”  We as Americans love the “quick fix”, microwave meals and drive through windows.  I can tell you that Lumineers and traditional veneers are very accommodating for people on the go.  In actuality, you can have a whole new smile in just two visits.  How long they last has a great deal to do with the Doctor’s skills and techniques.  After which home care, regular dental check-ups, and cleanings are essential for lasting results.  Both traditional veneers and Lumineers are designed to last for years.  The products are strong and durable just like your natural teeth.  Recently, I was informed by the founder of Lumineers, that I am one of a handful of doctors in the U.S. with Lumineers cases that have lasted for over 20 years.  As a matter of fact, I placed a set of Lumineers on my Father over 20 years ago, and they still look like new and are serving him well. 

So which one is right for you?  Traditional veneers or Lumineers?  I am committed to have my patients feel well informed and comfortable with their decision.  Listening carefully to each patient's individual concerns and desires is the key to creating their vision.  As each situation is different, I have a system that I have developed to match my patients up with the best materials for their desired result, and what their individual dental situation can accommodate to give them the best possible outcome.  I schedule follow up visits to monitor my patients so that I can spot and correct any potential issue before it becomes a problem.

Getting traditional veneers or Lumineers is actually quite simple, though the process is similar there are some differences.  Both procedures usually take just two visits at my office.  After the initial consultation, the first visit consists of any prep work that needs to be done.  I take impressions and in some cases, with the traditional veneers, it may be necessary to wear temporaries until the permanent veneers arrive. 

The second visit consists of fitting, attaching, and making sure the basic size, shape, and color are all correct, and that my patient is delighted with their new smile.  Once the veneers are fitted, I trim, shape and adjust the traditional veneers or Lumineers.  After a thorough cleaning, a composite resin is applied to the traditional veneers or Lumineers prior to permanently bonding them to the teeth.  The final details depend on the dentist’s artistic eye, acquired skills, and experience.  Like a sculptor with his block of marble, with exact precision, down to the tiniest details, I shape and finish each patient’s veneers to match their final vision. 

Traditional Veneers.  They have come a long way since first invented by Dr. Charles Pincus in the 1930’s in California to specifically accommodate the film industry to improve an actor’s smile.  At the time, they were only available to the film industry as a very temporary and quite unreliable solution.  Since then, traditional veneers have evolved into a beautiful, permanent, thin shell of porcelain.  Traditional veneers can be shaped to be the perfect replacement for your teeth, and can be more natural looking and less bulky than Lumineers.  

Traditional Veneers Pros:

  • Straighten severe teeth crowding.
  • Fill the space of a gap or even fill the space where a cavity was removed. 
  • Give a more symmetrical look. 
  • A thin porcelain that should not add extra thickness or bulkiness.  

Traditional Veneers Cons:

  • Teeth have to be prepared which means they have to be drilled.  Once a dentist takes a drill to the tooth and tooth structure is removed, there is always a potential for nerve exposure. 
  • Although rare in veneer preparation, if there is a deep cavity that must be cleaned out, the nerve could be exposed regardless of the restoration.
  • Traditional veneers are non-reversible; once a tooth is prepared there is no going back. 
    With traditional veneers, anesthetic is needed during both visits and temporaries usually need to be worn.

Lumineers.  There are strict guidelines on placement and cements to warranty the product.  There are very few complaints with Lumineers, and the resolution is quick and permanent.  Lumineers are custom designed, ultra thin, and considered the most pleasant way to bring out the natural, permanently white smile in you. 

Lumineers Pros:

  • No shots!
  • No removal of sensitive tooth structure!  Lumineers are placed directly over the whole front of your tooth.
  • Comfortable for sensitive patients! 
  • No temporaries to be worn. 
  • In most cases Lumineers can be reversed. 
  • Lumineers can give the appearance of straighter teeth. 

Lumineers Cons: 

  • Complaints about Lumineers are mostly about the veneer detaching itself soon after the procedure. 
  • Patients may ask about Lumineer’s translucency.  In other words, if the natural tooth is dark, a thin Lumineer may need a “block” to prevent the darker tint from showing through.
  • Patients may also inquire about the thickness of the Lumineers.

Although I am not perfect, I am a perfectionist.  I feel so honored and blessed to have so many wonderful people entrust me with their smiles.  There is nothing more satisfying than seeing how happy, satisfied, and confident people become when they complete the treatment and leave here with a new smile.  The Wright Smile!