Lumineers® dental veneers.

What are they?

When a dentist places a set of veneers for a patient, they have some options as to the specific type they use. One of these options is the Lumineers® brand of porcelain veneers.

What's special about them?

They're unique because they can be made ultra-thin.

They're crafted out of dental porcelain called Cerinate®. And because it's exceptionally strong, these veneers can be made to extremely thin tolerances.

Lumineers® are about 1/2 as thick as regular porcelain veneers.

How thin are they?

Lumineers® can be as little as .2 to .3 millimeters thick. That's less than 1/64th of an inch, and similar to the thickness of a contact lens.

In comparison, conventional porcelain veneers typically require a minimal thickness of at least .5mm.

What's the advantage of a thin veneer?

Den-Mat Corporation, the company that makes Lumineers®, promotes a protocol where ultra-thin veneers are placed without any tooth preparation (no drilling) or an anesthetic (no "shots"). (You've probably seen their advertisements.)

What's the advantage of no-prep placement?

No-drill, no-shots veneering technique isn't better than conventional placement, it's simply different. It has some advantages but also some disadvantages.

As far as the way it's performed (its main advantage), here's how it differs from traditional veneering technique.

Placing Lumineers® porcelain veneers may not require any tooth preparation.

A) Conventional placement.

When regular porcelain veneers are placed, the dentist will first grind away some of the front side of the tooth. (See picture "A" in our graphic.)

Usually they'll only need to trim an amount that's about the same thickness as the porcelain veneer they plan to place.

And although that's just a very slight amount, the patient will have to sit through this drilling process, and an anesthetic may be required. For some people, that's more than they want to endure.

B) No-shots, no-drilling veneer placement.

Since Lumineers® can be made so they're ultra-thin, they offer the option that they can be bonded directly onto a tooth's surface, without trimming it back first. (See picture "B" in our graphic.)

That means there's no need for any tooth preparation, and probably no need for an anesthetic either. And since nothing has been trimmed away, having to wear temporary veneers while the permanent ones are being made is never an issue.

Not all dentists think the use of this technique is such a good idea. And, in fact, there is a fair amount of debate in the dental community about if and when veneer placement using a no-prep approach makes a reasonable choice (see below).

More information: Here's an overview of the steps a dentist uses when placing conventional porcelain veneers. The steps for placing no-prep Lumineers® are the same, with the exception that no tooth trimming is involved.

Either method can be used with Lumineers®.

We're not trying to confuse you, but the following point needs to be made. Lumineers® can be placed using either traditional or no-prep technique.

  1. Lumineers® is simply a brand of porcelain veneer that's made out of the porcelain Cerinate®.
  2. While the strength of Cerinate® allows these veneers to be ultra-thin, they can also be made thicker, just like traditional ones.
  3. That means they can be used with either one of the techniques mentioned above (drill or no-drill).

Criticisms.

No-prep placement and Lumineers® in general have their critics. Two major issues that are typically brought up are:

Digital Smile Makeover cases that involve porcelain veneers.
A digital smile makeover involving Lumineers®. #1  #2  #3  #4  #5  #6  #7 
  • Lumineers® have a reputation for being opaque, as opposed to comparatively translucent and life-like.
  • No-prep technique can easily result in the creation of bulky, over-contoured teeth. That can make new veneers hard to get use to. It can also make teeth harder to clean properly.

Proper case selection is the key.

In response to these criticisms, dentists who favor the use Lumineers® are quick to point out that these issues can be kept in check by way of proper case selection.


Who makes Lumineers®?

Lumineers® are only available to dentists through one of the Den-Mat Corporation's Cerinate® Smile Design Studios.

Other no-drill products.

While Lumineers® are no doubt the best known (most heavily advertised) type of no-prep porcelain veneers, there are other brands your dentist can choose from. They include Vivaneers® (Glidewell Laboratories) and DURAthin®.


Applications for no-prep Lumineers®.

Success has a lot to do with proper case selection.

Most people who know about no-drill, no-shots Lumineers® placement do so because of the advertisements they have seen. Advertising can, however, lead a consumer to form unrealistic expectations.

Most people understandably draw the conclusion that the use of this technique can be used with them. And while in theory this may be true, any dentist can tell you there's often quite a bit of difference between what's technically possible and what's in the patient's best interest.

When does this option make a good choice? / Who makes the ideal candidate?

The following topics explain issues associated with making the decision to have no-prep Lumineers® placed.


Initial conditions that favor the placement of Lumineers® using "no drilling" technique.

Lumineers® placed with no-drill technique may add noticeable thickness.

Background.

The difficulty associated with placing a veneer without trimming the tooth back first is that the tooth will end up being some degree larger.

In order to avoid the situation where this change is enough to create problems, the dentist looks for applications that:

  • Only require the thinnest veneer possible.
  • Use this size increase as an asset.

Favorable pre-treatment conditions.

In general, here's the kind of situations that make the most ideal applications for no-drill Lumineers® (and an explanation why).

A) Teeth that just require minor cosmetic or color improvement.

Background -

The whole premise associated with placing a veneer is that it's opaque enough to mask (hide) the cosmetic imperfections of the tooth underneath. Here's how this is accomplished:

Option #1: Translucent veneers.

If a veneer is made out of relatively translucent porcelain (doing so will give it a more life-like appearance), it will need to be comparatively thicker. (This is the approach used with conventional veneers.)

Option #2: Opaque veneers.

If the veneer must be ultra-thin (like needed for no-drilling applications), the only way to get the needed masking effect is to use porcelain that's relatively opaque.

More opaque veneers, however, typically look more artificial. (This is a criticism of Lumineers® in general. We discuss it here.)

Solution -

By limiting the use of no-drill technique to just cases where only a minimal change is needed (such as making a small color change or masking minor cosmetic imperfections), the Lumineers® can be both ultra-thin yet comparatively more translucent (win-win).

B) Teeth that are already fairly straight.

Background -

Veneers can be used to improve the apparent alignment of teeth. But doing so may require relatively thick veneers, which may create problems. (We illustrate and explain this issue here.)

Solution -

By choosing cases where the teeth simply need to be resurfaced, as opposed to being reshaped, the veneers can be as ultra-thin as possible.

Closing tooth gaps with Lumineers® veneers.

C) Tooth gaps. / Small or inclined teeth.

Background -

Since placing no-prep Lumineers® will increase the size of the patient's teeth, dentists look for applications where this can be used to an advantage.

Solution -

Patients who have relatively small teeth, especially those that have gaps between them, often make ideal candidates for no-tooth preparation veneers.

The same goes for people whose teeth are slightly lingually inclined (tip inward somewhat as opposed to being bucked). In these cases, the added thickness of the veneer helps to create the change that's wanted.


Digital Smile Makeover cases that involve porcelain veneers.
A digital smile makeover involving Lumineers®. #1  #2  #3  #4  #5  #6  #7 

Just because you're not the ideal candidate doesn't mean you can't have veneers.

Even if your dentist determines that your situation really isn't the perfect one for a no-drill approach, that doesn't necessarily mean that you can't have porcelain veneers placed.

Option #1: Traditional veneers.

It may just mean that conventional veneers make the better choice, in terms of creating a more natural appearance or one that makes maintaining proper dental health easier.

Option #2: Going ahead with no-prep Lumineers®.

For some people, the convenience or dental-fear benefits of no-drill technique may outweigh a slightly less-than-ideal outcome. This can be a reasonable trade-off when it comes to cosmetic appearance. Lots of people seem to make this choice.

With other types of problems, placing no-prep veneers when less-than-ideal conditions exist can be rationalized. But discuss this matter thoroughly with your dentist. It probably doesn't make the best choice.


Lumineers® can be used to repair porcelain dental crowns.

Rejuvenating the appearance of porcelain dental work with Lumineers®.

Lumineers® can be used as a way to extend the life of porcelain-surfaced crowns and bridges that are no longer cosmetically pleasing.

The idea is simply one where the veneer is bonded onto the front surface of the restoration, thus giving it with a rejuvenated look.

Since the Lumineer® will only provide a cosmetic change, the dentist must examine the dental work in question and determine that it is otherwise intact and clinically satisfactory.

Is using this technique a good idea?

One needs to keep in mind that this is patchwork dentistry. Instead of having a restoration that's just a single entity created in the controlled environment of a dental laboratory, you'll have "a restoration placed on a restoration" that's been put together in your mouth.

a) Dental Crowns

If your dentist suggests this repair for an individual crown, ask about their rationale. They may have good reasons but in many cases your costs and number of appointments needed may be about the same for either approach, with the crown remake having the more predictable long-term outlook.

b) Dental Bridges

It's easier to see the potential benefits of this technique when bridgework is involved. Veneering just one or a few teeth that spoil the appearance of an extensive bridge might offer a reasonable solution, at just a portion of the cost of replacing it.

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