What’s the Difference Between Veneers and Lumineers?

Veneers are shells used by cosmetic dentists to fix the appearance of teeth. Made of porcelain or composite, they restore the front sides of chipped or cracked teeth, correct discoloration, and can help with crowding, among other issues.

Among the types of veneers are Lumineers, which are thinner, tend to be cheaper, and require less preparation to put in place. That said, “no-prep” veneers like these may not be the best for all cases, and the traditional type has its advantages.

This article breaks down the differences between veneers and Lumineers, what they can do, as well as the pros and cons of each type.  

A young woman is looking at some teeth from a mold shown by her dentist

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What Are Veneers?

Made of porcelain or a resin-composite, traditional veneers are luminous white shells that are placed over discolored, chipped, worn, or misaligned teeth to fix the way they look. Working from impressions and imaging of your teeth, they’re crafted to fit perfectly over the front of the teeth. Veneer installation is an irreversible procedure.

What sorts of cases warrant porcelain veneers? Here’s a breakdown:

  • Worn enamel: Due to genetics, consuming certain foods and drinks, or other habits, enamel can become dull and discolored.
  • Chips and cracks: Accidents or the natural effects of aging can damage the enamel of the teeth.
  • Uneven spacing: Veneers can correct the crowding of teeth or gaps between them.
  • Crooked teeth: Some cases of uneven or crooked teeth, which can affect the bite, can be corrected with veneers.
  • Discoloration: Veneers can also be put on to immediately brighten and whiten a smile.

Notably, some tooth structure needs to be taken off before veneers are installed; the dentist will need to grind and shape the tooth to prepare it. In many cases, patients are first fitted with temporary veneers while the final piece or set is crafted. 

Veneers and Orthodontics

Notably, veneers and Lumineers alone may not correct some cosmetic issues. Orthodontics, such as braces or Invisalign retainers, or restorative dentistry may be necessary for some cases of crooked or crowded teeth.

What Are Lumineers?

Ultra-thin caps made of specialized ceramic composite, Lumineers, made by DenMat, LLC, are attached to the front surfaces of teeth. Impressions and imaging of your teeth are sent to their lab, and they fabricate shells that will blend into your enhanced smile. With these and other no-prep veneers, like Vivaneers and Durathin Veneers, little to no shaping and grinding of the tooth is necessary before installation.

As with veneers, Lumineers instantly correct and enhance the appearance of teeth. They’re effective for:

  • Correcting gaps between teeth
  • Irregularities in size or shape
  • Minor cases of crookedness and misalignment
  • Discoloration
  • An immediate smile makeover

Pros and Cons

Veneers

First used in the 1930s, there’s no doubt that porcelain veneers have their place in cosmetic dentistry, and the resin composite types are also reliable options. What makes them a good option for correcting your smile? Here’s a breakdown:

  • Efficacy: Both porcelain and composite veneers leave teeth looking brighter and whiter and effectively correct gaps, chips, and minor misalignments. The overall success rate, as well as patient satisfaction, is very high.
  • Stain resistance: Veneers have been found effective in preventing tooth staining for up to five years. However, poor dental hygiene can cause this discoloration to return.
  • Durability: Porcelain veneers are expected to last up to 15 years. Resin composite veneers don’t last as long, but a robust 80% are found to last more than five years, and within seven, you may need a replacement.   

However, there may also be disadvantages to traditional veneers. These include:

  • Invasiveness: Having traditional veneers installed is a more invasive procedure. In order to prepare the tooth, the dentist will need to reshape and grind it, which generally calls for local anesthetic or other pain management. It’s also irreversible.  
  • Time: While there’s some variation, you can expect multiple appointments and a treatment timeline of up to four to six weeks when you have veneers placed. The caps need to be shaped and crafted based on imaging and impressions of your teeth, which often happens off-site. In many cases, you wear a temporary set before the final ones are placed.    
  • Costs: There’s a great deal of variability when it comes to the costs of traditional veneers, but on the whole, they tend to represent the costlier option. The costs range from $925 to $2,500 per porcelain veneer and $800 to $1,500 per composite.  

Lumineers

Along with other no-prep veneer options, Lumineers offer a number of immediate benefits:

  • Less invasive: Little to no preparation, shaping, or grinding of the tooth is necessary for Lumineers. The procedure is pain-free and anesthesia isn’t needed.
  • Quicker results: Lumineers and other no-prep options are popular because they’re faster to put in place. Fewer visits to the dentist’s office are needed, and they’ll be quicker. Lumineers can also be taken off or replaced.
  • Costs: Lumineers are often considered the comparatively cheaper option, overall, though much depends on the individual case. For no-prep veneers, you can expect to pay $800 to $2,000 per tooth.

Still, there are two primary drawbacks with no-prep veneers:

  • Limited efficacy: Some cases of staining and discoloration or more damaged teeth can’t be treated with Lumineers or other no-prep options. No prep veneers are thinner and more translucent than the porcelain or composite types, so they may not be effective in some cases.
  • Less durability: Whereas, like traditional veneers, Lumineers can last five to 20 or more years, they’re a little more susceptible to damage. Therefore, special care needs to be taken when brushing these. Much depends on the material used to bond the no-prep veneer to the tooth in terms of longevity.

Veneers vs. Lumineers: Which Should You Choose?

Both veneers and Lumineers are effective and well-tolerated options for correcting smiles. Which way to go depends on your case, as your dentist will undoubtedly explain. Factors that are worth considering include:

  • Severity: Veneers generally protect against discoloration a little better, and Lumineers may not be able to correct certain cases of misalignment or malformation.
  • Timing: Lumineers and no-prep veneers, by design, require less time—and fewer appointments—to put into position.
  • Invasiveness: More filing, drilling, and grinding of the tooth is necessary for the installation of traditional veneers, and it’s an irreversible procedure. Pain and anesthetic-free no-prep veneer placement is easier for most people to handle.
  • Durability: Porcelain veneers are known to be very durable and can last 15 or more years. Lumineers can also display such longevity but are more susceptible to staining and discoloration and require extra care.
  • Costs: The costs of treatment range significantly with both veneers and Lumineers, though the latter may often incur less out-of-pocket expenses due to fewer appointments. Cosmetic procedures tend not to be covered by insurance, so talk to your dentist’s office staff about financing options.  

Questions to Ask Your Dentist About Veneers and Lumineers

If you're considering cosmetic adjustments to your smile, it’s essential that you learn as much as you can about your options. Important questions to ask your dentist—as well as other professionals at the dental clinic—include:

  • What options do I have besides veneers or Lumineers?
  • How much will the procedure impact the underlying tooth or teeth?
  • What sort of special care is necessary with veneers and Lumineers?
  • What are some ways I can prevent staining or damage to the teeth?
  • How often will I need to come back in for check-ups?
  • What signs or symptoms should I look out for in my mouth?
  • What costs can I expect and are there financing options? Does insurance cover treatment?

Summary

Traditional veneers, made of porcelain or composite resin, are specially fabricated shells placed on the front of teeth to correct their appearance. Lumineers are a type of veneer made of a thinner ceramic composite. Whereas traditional veneers tend to be more durable, they require more preparation of the tooth and take longer to install. Lumineer placement is less-invasive and a much quicker process, and it may be cheaper. However, these aren’t effective in all cases and may not last as long.

A Word From Verywell

There’s certainly much to think about when it comes to Lumineers and veneers; each has its advantages and disadvantages, and the choice has to be your own. However, the good news is that both are highly effective, viable treatments for improving the appearance of your teeth.   

There’s no hiding the benefits of a brighter, whiter smile; it can help confidence and self-esteem. If you’d like to learn more about your options, talk to your dentist about veneers, Lumineers, and other treatments.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which is more expensive, veneers or Lumineers?

    In terms of the costs of treatment per tooth, there’s a great deal of variation for both veneers and Lumineers. The former can cost anywhere from about $1,000 to $2,500, while the latter runs from $800 to $2,000. Notably, veneers require more dental visits, which can add to costs, so they’re often considered the more expensive option.  

  • How long do Lumineers last?

    Lumineers, if properly cared for, can last for five to 20 or more years. However, they are less durable than porcelain veneers and may be more susceptible to discoloration. Keeping up with good oral hygiene and taking special care when brushing helps preserve the color of your teeth. 

  • Do Lumineers ruin your teeth?

    Lumineers are minimally-invasive, so they have less of an impact on teeth and don’t damage them. This is in contrast to traditional veneers, for which some layers of teeth enamel have to be removed prior to placement. However, there is some risk of damage to the teeth if the Lumineer isn’t correctly fitted.

  • What’s the cost of Lumineers?

    Appointments are needed for imaging and evaluation of your case prior to installation, which can also add to costs. In general, Lumineers range in cost from $800 to $2,000 per treated tooth. Most cosmetic dental procedures aren't covered by insurance, and much depends on the scope of the work needed.

  • Are there side effects to Lumineers?

    Though the placement of Lumineers is minimally invasive and they’re generally well-tolerated, there are some side-effects:

    • Cracked Lumineers due to poor placement or fit
    • Tooth sensitivity and discomfort
    • Irregular or non-matching color
    • Tooth damage (a rare side-effect)
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5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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