How Many Dental Veneers Do I Need?

Porcelain veneers are often a good option for patients looking for a cosmetic improvement on their teeth. However, it can be confusing to understand if veneers are the right option for you, and if so, how many veneers you need. You may even hear different answers depending on the provider you ask! Read on to find out what factors go into making these decisions.

What is a Dental Veneer?

A dental veneer is a cosmetic treatment that alters the appearance of a tooth by covering cracks, chips, discoloration and other imperfections. The veneer acts as a shell to cover the entire visible surface of the patient’s tooth, and it is a way to cosmetically enhance the aesthetics of a smile in terms of size, shape, shade and texture of the teeth.

Example of a patient before and after of two veneers
Example of a smile transformation with only two veneers

There are many differences between dental veneers and dental crowns, but the primary difference is that veneers only cover the front surface of the tooth and are used to improve the look of your smile; whereas, dental crowns cover the entire surface of the tooth to aid in strengthening and repairing teeth. For patients who do not have issues like decay or trauma, veneers are usually a great option to optimize the aesthetics of their smile.

Patients who are considering veneers may also look into options like dental bonding. Dental bonding, also called composite veneers or resin veneers, is a more conservative option and may be the right choice if you have a small chip or shade inconsistency. However, dental bonding may not last as long as porcelain veneers, and it can dull or stain quickly. A porcelain veneer gives you more control of the shade, shape, shine, longevity and won't stain.

Assessing Individual Needs and Tailoring Treatment

When assessing how many veneers you need, it's essential to begin with high-quality portrait and retracted photos. These photos, taken with a high-quality camera in the dental office, help capture your face shape, tooth shape, and any existing aesthetic issues. The photos not only assist the dentist with performing an accurate, thorough assessment, but they also serve as a reference point for a discussion between you and your dentist.

Example of a patient before and after of a single veneer
Patient was unhappy with a single tooth; Solution was a single veneer and gummy smile correction on the tooth to achieve the appearance she was looking for

During a consultation, your dentist will understand your desired outcomes and address specific concerns that you may have. This information, paired with the detailed photos and assessment, ensures you receive a treatment plan that’s right for you – whether that involves correcting a single tooth, addressing a gummy smile, or providing a full mouth aesthetic solution. Each patient’s case is unique!

You may visit a dental office and be told you need to get veneers on your entire smile. This may be true in some situations, but it is not always the case. Similarly, you may hear that there is a “4, 8, 10” rule, in which you need to choose either 4, 8, or 10 veneers. While the rule is geared toward symmetry with an even number of veneers, your treatment plan should prioritize your unique, individual wants and needs over generic guidelines.

The bottom line: You need a detailed assessment and consultation to find out if veneers are the best option, and if they are, how many are right for you!

Can I Have Just One or Two Veneers?

Yes, it is 100% possible to have just one or two veneers. Contrary to common belief, it's achievable and – sometimes preferable – to have a few number of veneers, though it requires advanced skill and attention to detail from the dentist placing the veneers.

Often, choosing a fewer number of veneers can mean preserving more functionality, seeing better long-term results, needing less maintenance, and paying less overall for treatment. In addition, one or two veneers can be a great option to enhance the beauty of your natural smile.

Example of a patient before and after with two veneers
Example of a patient who had just two veneers

Choosing The Right Dentist

The reality is that placing veneers on a few number of teeth is a highly challenging and technique-sensitive procedure. Matching veneers with adjacent natural teeth involves an advanced level of skill and expertise, meticulous photography, shade matching, and collaboration with a skilled dental laboratory.

If you decide to get one or two veneers, you should use caution in choosing a qualified, skilled provider. You can gauge a dentist's proficiency in veneers by asking about their willingness to place one or two veneers and by requesting to see examples of their work. The dentists who say they are able to do the procedure, and who have several examples of successful outcomes with patients with the same number of veneers, are going to be the best choices. On the other hand, the dentists who tell you it’s not possible to do a few number of veneers, and/or who do not have any comparable examples to share with you, may not be the best candidates for the job.

Example of a patient before and after with two veneers
Another example of a patient who only needed two veneers

Opting For Minimal Intervention

Less can often be more when it comes to cosmetic dentistry! When you choose a fewer number of teeth, you’re usually going to experience optimized functionality, reduced financial impact and fewer maintenance requirements.

It is Dr. Alpers’ belief that his patients should always be presented with multiple options, with one of these options including the most conservative approach available to them – one that still achieves the desired outcome, yet preserves their natural smile as much as possible.

Example of patient before and after with four veneers
Patient was unhappy with her smile and felt like she was being oversold at other dental offices; Dr. Alpers offered a more conservative solution, which included four veneers, one implant on a back tooth, and gummy smile correction on two teeth

What Else Should I Know About Getting Veneers?

Choosing to get veneers, even if they are only on one or two teeth, is a big decision. While veneers can have a positive impact on your confidence and overall happiness, there are a few other things to consider and ask your dentist about.

The Process of Getting Veneers

If you are planning to get veneers, you can expect to have 4-5 different trips to the dentist in order to ensure you get the best outcomes possible.

Step #1: Consultation & Assessment

At your consultation, you will have high quality photos taken, as described above, and discuss your desired outcomes with your dentist. You’ll also have a digital assessment, which in our office includes a 3D digital scan, so that the dental team can properly plan your treatment.

This is the time to ask your dentist questions! A good dentist will also ask you questions about your preferences, show you examples of other similar cases, create a smile simulation to show you what the outcome will look like, and begin the process of customizing your treatment plan.

Step #2: Prep Appointment

At this appointment, the dentist will prepare your teeth for the veneers. For the patients who visit our office, we fabricate the temporaries during their visit so that they walk out of our office with their temporaries in place. The temporaries act like a “test drive,” so that you can evaluate the shape, size and shade of the teeth. At our office, we wait to order the final veneers from the lab until after our patients have had an opportunity to see how they like their temporaries; this allows us to further refine the look so that the patient is happy with the final outcome.

Step #3: Re-Evaluation Appointment

While not every dental office does this step, we believe it is key to getting the result you’re looking for. This step involves taking additional photos (when you’re not numb!) so that you and the dentist can review your photos, go over your thoughts on your temporaries and discuss any other changes that we need to dial in before agreeing on the treatment plan. Once the plan is agreed upon, the dentist sends your detailed information, which includes all of the data they’ve gathered, to the lab. Make sure your dentist partners with a reputable lab that uses high quality materials.

Step #4: Delivery of Final Veneers

At this appointment, the dentist will deliver, cement and bond the veneers. You can expect this to take between 30 minutes to two hours, depending on how many veneers you’re getting. We typically ask our patients to come back a couple of days later to check their bite and make any slight tweaks that are needed.


How Long Veneers Last

In general, porcelain veneers need to be replaced every ten years. Some patients need to replace them in as quickly as five years, while others may not need to replace them for twenty years or more. The factors that impact how long they last include the quality of the porcelain, how well you care for them, lifestyle habits and regular trips to the dentist.

Veneers need to be cared for in the same way you would care for your natural teeth. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing your teeth twice per day, flossing regularly, eating a healthy diet and consistently seeing your dentist for preventive care. All of these recommendations still apply with veneers, and following these guidelines will help your veneers last longer. Our office uses high quality porcelain, advanced techniques and a high attention to detail, so our patients tend to have porcelain veneers that last longer.

How Much Veneers Cost

You can expect a veneer to cost about $1,500 to $2,000 per veneer. As you weigh the cost, make sure to consider it in terms of the cost over the course of 10 years. You should see it as an investment in yourself; sometimes people are willing to spend the money on their kitchen or a car, but not their smile. However, the reality is, your smile is something you take with you everywhere! So it's important to carefully consider the cost vs. benefit as you weigh your decision.

Example of patient before and after with six veneers
Patient before and after with six veneers

The Takeaway

In order to determine how many veneers you need, it’s essential to get a detailed assessment and have a consultation with a skilled dentist. Treatment should always be customized for you and your unique needs and goals. And if you decide on a fewer number of veneers – even just one or two, which is indeed possible – choose a qualified dentist who can show you examples of their work on other patients.

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We look forward to meeting you!

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