When Dental Veneers Go Wrong

When Dental Veneers Go Wrong

Porcelain dental veneers have been around for decades but have grown in popularity in recent years thanks to TV shows like Extreme Makeover and impatient celebrities who opt for quick fixes for their imperfect teeth. But many people who get veneers to look like their favorite stars don’t understand how drastic a procedure it is, nor do they realize there’s no guarantee the end result will be the perfect “Hollywood smile” they envisioned. Here’s a look at what can go wrong.

What Are Veneers?

First, it’s important to know what’s involved with getting veneers. Veneers are thin “shells” that are attached with an adhesive substance to the front of teeth to give the appearance of dental perfection for people who have stained, chipped, decayed or crooked teeth. In order to create room for a veneer, however, a significant amount of enamel is removed — up to 30% of the tooth itself. Thus, the procedure is irreversible and should not be entered into as lightly as some people do — particularly those who get veneers on otherwise healthy teeth. This is especially true because at least half of veneers need replacing within 10 years.

Repeated veneer procedures increase the likelihood of something bad happening during the process — and there are a number of things that can indeed go wrong.

Exposed Nerves

In the process of removing enamel before attaching the veneer, a dentist might accidentally file the tooth surface down too far and expose nerves that cause a never-ending toothache. In a worst-case scenario, the tooth can even die, requiring a root canal.


If a veneer isn’t bonded properly to the front of the tooth, there may be a gap between the two surfaces. Even a very slight gap is enough to allow bacteria to build up and cause infections and tooth decay.

Bad Margins

If a veneer that is poorly constructed and/or poorly attached along the gum line — i.e, the “margin” where the veneer gives way to the tooth — it can cause the gums to swell. Additionally, if the gums bleed, the blood can cause dark stains along the margin.

Veneers Falling Off

Veneers can become dislodged and fall off, especially if you grind your teeth or routinely chew on hard objects like ice or pencils. If this is a habit you can’t break, veneers aren’t for you.

Veneers That Are Too Big

One of the most common mistakes made by dentists when applying veneers is choosing ones that are too long. This can impact the patient’s bite due to the lack of contact between the upper and lower teeth and can lead to constant jaw pain. On the other hand, if the veneer is too thick, it can lead to swollen gums.

Veneers That Look Fake

While the fact that your veneers look fake might be the least of the possible complications, it could still be a tough pill to swallow for a procedure that cost thousands of dollars. What typically makes veneers look fake is an overly large size, an overly white, opaque color and a lack of surface texture.

Of course, dental veneers can still be useful when needed, but more and more, this 21st century trend has become less and less about need and more about glitz and glamor.

(Sources: American Dental Association, MedicalXpress, Yahoo!, The Daily Mail, Sam Muslin DDS, WebMd)