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Do They Shave Your Teeth for Veneers? Let’s Find Out!

Close-up of female dentist smiling and holding dental drill in protective gloves while working in dental clinic.

When considering a cosmetic smile makeover with veneers, one of the most frequent questions is, “Do they shave your teeth for veneers?” This can often be a deciding factor for many, as the thought of altering the natural structure of one’s teeth might seem daunting. 

In this guide, we aim to address this question head-on, providing you with the necessary information to make an informed decision. From the specifics of the tooth shaving process to the reasons behind it, alternatives that may reduce or eliminate the need for this step, and the important aftercare to ensure your veneers remain in tip-top condition — we’ve got it covered.

Let’s get started!

Key Takeaway: 

  • Dental veneers have become a hallmark of cosmetic dentistry, allowing individuals to achieve a confident smile. They are custom-made to cover the front surface of teeth and are crafted from thin layers of porcelain or composite material, enhancing the colour, shape, size, or length.
  • In most cases, a small amount of enamel is removed from the surface of existing teeth to create a strong bond for the veneer and ensure a natural-looking result.
  • The amount of enamel removed is very minimal and should not affect tooth health with proper care.
  • Minimal- and no-prep veneer options are available for minor cosmetic concerns while preserving a more natural tooth structure.

Why Do Dentists Shave Teeth for Veneers?

Before we go over the importance of tooth shaving for veneers, it’s essential to grasp what tooth shaving actually entails.

Tooth shaving is a clinical procedure where a thin layer of enamel is removed using specialised tools. This tooth preparation process is delicately performed to reshape or resize the teeth, preparing them for further cosmetic enhancements, such as veneers.

Professional dental team, Asian male dentist and female assistant, performing a dental procedure on female patient in a dental chair.

Do teeth need to be shaved down for veneers? Yes, teeth typically need to be filed or shaved down for veneers. This step is essential to ensure that the veneers fit accurately and look natural when placed over the teeth. The process involves removing a very small amount of tooth enamel or a tiny bit of shaving — just enough to make space for the porcelain or composite resin veneers without causing harm to the tooth. By carefully shaping the natural teeth, dentists can create a smooth and even surface for the veneer to adhere to. This is crucial for some reasons:

  • Secure bonding for a flawless look: Shaving the white outer layer of the tooth creates a rougher surface that allows for stronger adhesive bonding of the veneer to the tooth. This secure bond is crucial for achieving a seamless and natural-looking finish that blends perfectly with the surrounding natural teeth.
  • Creating space for the veneer thickness: To ensure that veneers do not bulk out and disrupt the natural line of the smile, a tiny amount of enamel must be removed. This space creation keeps the overlay from appearing too thick, ensuring the veneers align properly with the natural contour of the teeth and gums.
  • Maintaining a natural bite: Properly executed tooth shaving prevents the veneers from affecting the patient’s bite or how the teeth come together. By adjusting the thickness of the veneer and ensuring it fits perfectly over the shaved tooth, dentists can prevent bite issues and discomfort or tooth sensitivity, preserving the patient’s ability to chew and speak normally.

These benefits show the importance of tooth shaving as a preparatory step for veneers, highlighting its role in achieving both cosmetic and functional excellence. Additionally, tooth shaving allows for the adjustment of simple cosmetic issues, such as slightly crooked teeth, small chips and gaps or uneven edges, further enhancing the overall aesthetic outcome. 

How Much Enamel Gets Removed?

Close-up shot of removing partly teeth enamel by dental diamond bur.

Tooth enamel is the hard outer covering of your teeth, a component that undergoes modification during the veneer preparation process. It’s the most mineralised tissue in the body, protecting from tooth decay and wear. 

The amount of enamel removed for veneers is typically very minimal, around 0.5 millimetres for porcelain veneers, equivalent to the thickness of a fingernail, and slightly less for composite veneers due to their thinner nature.

It’s important to note that the exact amount of enamel removal will vary depending on your case and the desired outcome.

Considerations for Minimal Enamel Removal

Shaving less or no shaving at all?

While traditional veneers typically involve some enamel removal, advancements in technology have introduced exciting options for patients who want to minimise or eliminate tooth shaving. Let’s delve into other types of veneers that don’t damage teeth:

Veneers presented on a jaw model with a reflection.

Minimal-prep veneers:

As its name suggests, minimal-prep veneers require the least tooth enamel to be removed, typically less than with composite and porcelain veneers. This might be around 0.3 millimetres. They are a good option for minor cosmetic concerns like slight chips, gaps, or discolouration.

Minimal-prep veneers preserve a more natural tooth structure compared to traditional veneers. They may be suitable for patients with minimal enamel and still offer aesthetically pleasing results.  

No-prep veneers:

They are also known as non-invasive veneers. Ideally, no-prep veneers involve no tooth substance removed. These are ideal for patients who are very apprehensive about shaving any tooth structure. However, they are not always a universally suitable option. Here’s why: 

  • No-prep veneers are typically made from thinner materials like composite resin, unlike the stronger porcelain used in traditional veneers. This can make them less durable and more susceptible to chipping or staining.
  • Due to their thinner appearance, no-prep veneers may not address very noticeable cosmetic concerns or significantly alter the tooth’s shape or colour.
  • They may not be suitable for correcting misaligned teeth as they require more tooth structure for proper bonding.

There are things to consider when choosing between these two:

  • Severity of cosmetic concerns: If you have significant dental imperfections, minimal-prep veneers might offer a more predictable and long-lasting solution.
  • Desired durability: For maximum longevity, minimal-prep veneers with porcelain might be preferable.
  • Tooth enamel health: No-prep veneers can be a viable option if you have minimal enamel.
  • Budget: If cost is a concern, it may be worth comparing the price of minimal-prep veneers to that of no-prep veneers. 

It’s important to note that while they represent a leap forward in cosmetic dentistry, they may not be suitable for everyone. The decision involves careful consideration of the patient’s specific dental structure, aesthetic goals, and the long-term health of their teeth. Consulting with dentists skilled in the latest veneer technology is critical to making an informed decision that best meets the individual’s needs and expectations.

Alternatives to Shaving for Veneers

Other dental procedures, such as bonding or reshaping, do not require extensive teeth shaving.

Dental Bonding

This dental procedure involves the application of a tooth-coloured resin material, which is hardened with a special light to bond the material to the affected tooth. Composite bonding can repair decayed, discoloured, chipped or broken teeth and is more cost-effective and minimally invasive than a veneer procedure. It doesn’t require local anaesthetic and enamel removal, preserving more of your natural tooth structure.  

Enameloplasty

This is also known as odontoplasty or dental contouring/reshaping. It involves the removal of tiny amounts of enamel to reshape and correct a tooth’s length, shape, or appearance. It’s like sculpting the existing tooth structure. Treatment is best suited for individuals with minor cosmetic issues, offering a quick, pain-free solution with immediate results.

The best way to determine what treatment options are right for you is to consult a qualified dentist. They will assess your individual needs, cosmetic goals, and tooth health to recommend the most suitable option.

Aftercare for Veneered Teeth

Veneers are a fantastic way to achieve a beautiful and confident smile, but proper care is essential to ensure longevity and brilliance. Here’s a breakdown of essential aftercare tips to keep your veneers looking and functioning at their best:

Male dentist with hand gloves explains dental hygiene to an Asian female patient looking at a teeth model.

Brushing and flossing regularly: Maintain good oral hygiene practices. Brush your teeth twice a day (or as needed) for two minutes each time, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride or desensitising toothpaste. Floss daily to remove plaque and food stuck between teeth and around the veneer margins.

Mind your diet: Veneers are generally quite durable, but certain foods can pose a threat. Here’s what to avoid:

  • Hard foods: Avoid chewing on hard candies, nuts, ice, or other hard objects that can chip or crack your veneers.
  • Sticky foods: Sticky candies, caramels, or chewy treats can potentially pull on the veneer and compromise the bond.
  • Staining foods and drinks: While not entirely limited, be mindful of consuming excessive amounts of coffee, tea, red wine, or other beverages that can stain veneers over time.

Night guard use: If you grind your teeth at night, your dentist might recommend wearing a night guard. This will protect your veneers from damage caused by teeth grinding.

Be gentle: Avoid using your veneers for tasks like opening packages or biting your nails. Treat them with care, just like your natural teeth.

Maintain Healthy Habits: Drinking and tobacco use can stain veneers and negatively impact oral health. Consider quitting smoking and drinking to protect your veneers and your overall health.

Maintaining Veneers Long-Term

Don’t neglect those dental check-ups! They are key to keeping your smile healthy as well as maintaining the health of your teeth and veneers. Your cosmetic dentist can assess the condition and progress of your veneers, check for any signs of damage, and perform necessary maintenance procedures like professional cleanings.

Veneers typically last 10-15 years, but with proper care and regular dental office visits, can extend their lifespan.

Conclusion

While shaving teeth is often a necessary step in the veneer placement process, the amount of enamel removed is minimal and shouldn’t affect tooth health. Consulting a dental professional is essential to determine the right option for your specific needs and cosmetic goals. They can discuss the different types of veneers available, the amount of enamel removal involved, and alternative procedures if suitable. Schedule an appointment with your dentist today to highlight your smile goals and explore the possibilities of veneers!

Let Us Help You in Taking Care of Your Dental Health

Casa Dental ensures to provide the first-class service to a wide range of clientele including local and expatriate patients from young to old.
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