How long do porcelain veneers last?
This page covers the subject of porcelain veneer (dental laminate) longevity in two parts.
- We first discuss how long veneers can be expected to last, based on the findings of research studies. We also include in this section statistical rankings showing what kinds of things tend to go wrong, thus causing the need for replacement.
- We then list and explain tips and pointers that can help you to extend the lifespan of your veneers.
FYI: If you’re currently experiencing an emergency, visit this page: What to do if you’ve had a veneer come off or break.
How long do porcelain veneers last?
The consensus of research studies seems to be that porcelain veneer longevity (survival) typically lies in the range of 90 to 95% after 10 years of service. With longer-term studies suggesting a restoration survival rate of over 80% after 20 years.
This includes veneer failures of all types, ranging from mechanical (breaking, chipping, debonding, etc…) to aesthetic deficiencies (the appearance of the veneered tooth has deteriorated and is no longer satisfactory).
A veneered tooth.
Does that mean that porcelain veneers make a good choice for the long term?
Additional FAQ about veneer longevity.
(Our answers here are brief. We explain these issues in greater detail following these questions.)
If veneers can last 10 years, what happens during the next 10?
Nothing necessarily. There’s no looming “expiration” point you have to be worried about. And if your veneers have been trouble-free initially, that’s certainly a good sign.
But as their years of providing service continue, the materials from which they’re made (porcelain, dental bonding) will continue to age, wear, and fatigue. And with a longer timeframe also comes more chances for experiencing random events that may result in damage.
So, after 10 years of reliable service, you don’t have to expect that problems will immediately start to occur. But it’s not realistic to assume that you’ll get by without them indefinitely.
Can porcelain veneers last for 25 or 30 years? Can they last forever?
Achieving an extended lifespan may be possible. But reaching each successive milestone should be considered increasingly unlikely.
The longest-lasting cases typically involve veneers that are: 1) Bonded primarily to tooth enamel alone (as opposed to a combination of enamel and dentin, which may result in a weaker attachment). 2) Have a design that minimizes their exposure to extreme forces. 3) Are worn by patients for whom minor cosmetic imperfections (like those that tend to result from gum recession or minor cement staining at the edges of veneers) aren’t such a giant concern.
After 10 years, should you just go ahead and have your porcelain veneers replaced?
No, that doesn’t make a very good plan. Here’s a primary reason why …
Tooth enamel (the absolute most reliable substrate for bonding veneers) can never be replaced. And each time the veneering process is repeated, a little more will most likely be trimmed away. Replacing veneers without good reason (like arbitrarily every 10 years) may result in a point later on where a suboptimal amount of enamel now exists for this procedure.
A chipped porcelain veneer.
How do you know when your veneers need replacing?
Some problems will be immediately obvious like if you have a veneer chip, break, or come off. In other cases, it may take you a while to finally decide that replacement is indicated. (For example, cosmetic deficiencies, like those due to gum recession or stain build up at visible veneer edges, may be very gradual events).
You might be oblivious to other problems. For example, decay formation or partial veneer debonding might only be detected during dental examination by your dentist.
Do veneers eventually break or fall off?
No, not necessarily. A veneer’s bond to its underlying tooth can be astoundingly strong (especially if that surface is enamel). And if a veneer has been designed so the level of forces it’s exposed to are minimal, mechanical failure (chipping, breaking, debonding) may never occur.
Can you go back to normal teeth after veneers?
No, that’s not the norm. In most cases, once veneered, a tooth will always require another veneer or, as a next step a dental crown, to look and feel like a normal tooth.
In theory, a “no-prep” veneer might be trimmed off its tooth, thus returning it to its original (misshapen or blemished) form. From a practical standpoint, however, actually opting for or achieving this outcome is probably pretty rare.
How much does it cost to replace a veneer?
Expect to pay the same as what your dentist currently charges for initial veneer placement. And keep in mind, this may be substantially different from what you paid many years ago when yours were originally placed.
When making replacement veneer(s), your dentist’s expenses (the amount of appointment time they need to set aside, the laboratory bill they incur when your restorations are made) are pretty much the same as for an initial veneer placement case. As such, they will need to charge accordingly.
Is it painful to replace veneers?
What you experience during the replacement process will probably be similar to what you experienced your first time around. So, if you required a dental anesthetic then, that may make the right choice for your replacement work too.
With replacement veneers, one would expect that the level of actual tooth preparation (trimming) needed would be very minimal and therefore not cause significant pain. (More likely, whatever drilling is performed will be mostly confined to removing the previous veneer). However, the gum tissue surrounding your tooth may need to be manipulated (like when taking the impression), and therefore an anesthetic needed to keep that process from hurting.
Do e.Max (“Emax”) and Zirconia veneers last longer?
The main benefit of using these materials for veneer fabrication is that they are substantially stronger than traditional dental ceramics (i.e. porcelain).
As such, one would expect that the restoration’s likelihood of breakage or chipping would be reduced. However, it’s important to point out that in many cases a veneer can be designed where its exposure to extreme forces can be minimized.
(A reason not to choose these materials is that using traditional ceramics may result in better veneer esthetics. Ask your dentist for their opinion about your case.)
Dental research that’s evaluated porcelain veneer longevity.
To give you an idea of what’s been published, here’s a sampling of research studies and literature reviews that have reported on the subject of how long porcelain veneers can last and what are the common causes of case failure.
1) Layton (2007)
This study evaluated 304 porcelain veneers (100 individual patients) that had all been placed by the same dentist over the course of 16 years.
The restoration survival rates reported were: 96% at 5 to 6 years, 93% at 10 to 11 years, 91% at 12 to 13 years, and 73% at 15 to 16 years.
(The paper stated that the rate reported for the 15-to-16-year group (the longest timeframe followed) was likely skewed to the downside because one person in that group, which was already only composed of a small number of restorations, was no longer available for participation in the study.)
Reasons for failure.
A debonded (lost) porcelain veneer.
2) Beier (2012)
This study evaluated 318 porcelain veneers (84 individual patients) that had been placed over a 22-year period.
The survival rates reported were: 95% at 5 years, 94% at 10 years, and 83% at 20 years.
Reasons for failure.
3) Land (2010)
This paper reviewed the findings of 50 published research articles (including our Layton reference above) that studied the subject of how long porcelain veneers can last.
What level of longevity should you expect?
According to the studies cited above, it’s easy enough to anticipate that:
- Most porcelain veneers should be able to last for a period of at least 10 years (95% survival rate).
- Beyond that, failure rates do increase but not overwhelmingly or drastically so.
Is getting veneers really worth it?
While the expected lifespan/survival rate of porcelain veneers is high (around 95% at 10 years), it’s not 100%.
And that places a patient considering this procedure in a position where they must decide if that’s high enough to have what’s usually considered elective dental work performed. Especially when reasonably equivalent, although admittedly usually less perfect, alternative procedures might be explored first.
How does the expected lifespan of porcelain veneers compare to other types of dental restorations?
a) How does porcelain veneer longevity compare to dental crowns?
The expected lifespan of veneers compares favorably with the reported survival rate of dental crowns placed in locations where their cosmetic appearance is important (i.e. front teeth).
A paper by Jacobson states that otherwise serviceable crowns are frequently replaced at an interval of 7 to 10 years due to deteriorated appearance. Studies suggest that porcelain veneers (also a strictly cosmetic dental procedure) can be expected to meet and exceed those numbers.
b) How does porcelain veneer longevity compare to composite veneers?
Tips (care and precautions) that can help your veneers last longer.
What can you do to make your veneers last longer?
The lifespan of your porcelain veneers will be affected by the way you take care of and use them. That includes how well and frequently you perform oral home care (which helps to prevent both tooth decay and gum recession). And avoiding situations and minimizing habits that expose your veneers to excessive forces, temperature extremes, and staining influences.
Here are some suggestions that can help to extend the life of your veneers.
A) Practice good oral home care.
Around 6% of veneers that fail do so related to the formation of tooth decay. And about 13% are due to complications with gum disease. (Bona)
Since a veneer’s edge lies right at the gum line, just a little gum recession can spoil its tooth’s appearance.
Recession can be caused by not brushing well enough, brushing too vigorously, or even a habit of clenching and grinding your teeth. Your dentist should be able to help you monitor what’s going on in your case.
B) Avoid excessive forces.
While durable, porcelain veneers are not strong. They’re not able to withstand extreme forces.
That means you should avoid activities that direct forces to them. This would include things such as biting your fingernails, hairpins, pencils, ice, or any other hard objects. Biting into hard foods, like raw carrots, could be a concern too. If you engage in sporting events, you should wear an athletic mouthguard.
A broken porcelain veneer.
Avoid clenching and grinding your teeth.
▲ Section references – Beier
What happens if a problem occurs?
The cement layer that lies between a veneer and its tooth has the potential to stain.
C) Minimize staining influences.
▲ Section references – Beier
D) Minimize temperature extremes.
A veneer that’s been placed is a sandwiched affair. In its entirety, the restoration is composed of porcelain, cement, and the surface of a tooth’s enamel.
Each of these materials will expand and contract at different rates when exposed to the same temperature variations. And after many years, a point may finally be reached where restoration fatigue results in it cracking or breaking.
How veneering technique plays a vital role in porcelain veneer longevity.
As one final point, we think it’s important to explain that when it comes to long-term success, the placement of porcelain veneers is a technique-sensitive procedure.
When placed in accordance with accepted tooth preparation and adhesive guidelines, they can be expected to provide the level of service mentioned above. But if not, a reduction in longevity can be expected.
a) Operator skill.
Your dentist’s experience and skills can play a significant role. As an example of what degree of variability might be involved:
- A literature review by Swift cites a study that found the failure rate for porcelain veneers placed by dental students to be almost 80% higher than those placed by dentists on their faculty.
The ideal situation is one where the tooth surface a porcelain veneer is bonded to is 100% enamel.
b) Is the veneer bonded primarily to dentin or enamel?
- The strongest bond possible (veneer-to-tooth) is created when the entire surface of the tooth’s preparation is enamel.
- A bond can be created with dentin (the tooth layer underneath a tooth’s outer enamel surface) but doing so is far less strong and predictable.
When porcelain veneers were first introduced in the 1980s, the protocol used to place them primarily involved bonding them onto tooth enamel. And due to that, it’s easy to explain the high success rates reported in many long-term studies (like those cited above).
More recent trends in tooth preparation for laminates include greater (deeper) tooth reduction. And as a result, many veneer preparations nowadays contain large regions of tooth dentin, a situation that will likely negatively impact the high success rates previously reported.
At least a part of this trend is due to an (inappropriate) expansion of the applications for this procedure. Ones that require extensive tooth trimming so to be able to either:
- Realign severely misaligned teeth (“instant orthodontics”).
- Mask the color of very dark teeth.
(With either of these applications, dental crown placement would be expected to make the more suitable type of restoration.)
What does research say about deeper veneer preparations?
The issue of how the current trend of greater tooth reduction (and therefore more dentin exposure) may affect veneer survival was the subject of a literature review performed by Burke.
- This paper cited one study that concluded that roughly 25% of the cases they evaluated were “over-prepared” (involved tooth dentin) when compared to the original protocol for this technique. (Thus demonstrating that the suggested change in trends is occurring.)
- It also made mention that for at least one dental liability insurer in the UK, claims against dentists involving porcelain veneers doubled between 2005 and 2010. (Suggesting that current trends are affecting veneer success rates.)
- Of the 24 studies evaluated, 1/3 specifically related veneer failure to excessive exposure of dentin in the tooth’s preparation, thus resulting in a conclusion by the reviewer that there is “reasonable evidence that a veneer preparation into dentin adversely affects survival.”
- “Recent reports of 50% failure at six years and 34% fracture are disturbing when compared with 93% to 100% success rates of 15 years observation in the 1980s.”
- “Recent UK data indicates a success rate for veneers placed within the General Dental Services in England and Wales of just over 50% at 10 years.”
What should you do?
We understand that it’s beyond the scope of the average patient to know if their case makes a reasonable application for the placement of porcelain veneers (in terms of the amount of tooth reduction needed). But it is easy enough to ask your dentist simple questions using terms that directly address this issue.
- The primary question at hand is simply if the veneer’s entire preparation will lie solely in enamel.
- If not, will at least the margins (edges) of the veneer be bonded to enamel?
If the answer to either question is no, you have reason to ask your dentist to elaborate. There is no question that some degree of dentin exposure in the preparation is permissible, it’s simply a question of how much and where.
Your dentist will need to explain the specifics of your case and how far from the ideal it lies. As well as to what degree this can be expected to affect longevity.
On their answer, you’ll need to decide if the increased risk involved makes choosing veneers, especially as an elective procedure, a reasonable choice for you.
Page references sources:
Bona AD, et al. The clinical success of all-ceramic restorations.
Beier US, et al. Clinical Performance of Porcelain Laminate Veneers for Up to 20 Years.
Burke FJT. Survival Rates for Porcelain Laminate Veneers with Special Reference to the Effect of Preparation in Dentin: A literature Review.
Dimatteo AM. Prep vs no prep: the evolution of veneers.
Jacobson N, et al. The myth of instant orthodontics. An ethical quandary.
Land MF, et al. Survival rates of all-ceramic systems differ by clinical indication and fabrication method.
Layton D, et al. An up to 16-year prospective study of 304 porcelain veneers.
Newsome P, et al. Longevity of ceramic veneers in general dental practice.
Swift EJ, et al. Critical Appraisal. Porcelain veneer outcomes, Part I.
Wakiaga J, et al. Direct versus indirect veneer restorations for intrinsic dental stains.
All reference sources for topic Porcelain Veneers.
This section contains comments submitted in previous years. Many have been edited so to limit their scope to subjects discussed on this page.
10 years and counting. I’ve
10 years and counting. I’ve had some recession of the gums but it doesn’t show very much. One came off about 6 years ago but has stayed put since. I’m glad I did it.
I’ve had my porcelain veneers for over 30 years, and they were life-changing for me. I believe they should only be affixed to the enamel layer, placing them on the deeper part of the tooth requires removal of the enamel, the one veneer that was placed on a tooth where the enamel had been removed was the first to fall off, and it literally broke off nearly all of the original tooth, and appears to have rotted under the veneer
Christina C W
Your comment reveals an important aspect of case planning for veneers, and how when ideal conditions don’t exist, placing them may make a very poor choice. In hindsight, your dentist should have placed a crown instead of a veneer on the problematic tooth. That would have given the exact same cosmetic outcome, without placing the tooth at risk.