Are Some Teeth Just Too "Bad" for Porcelain Veneers?

If too much enamel is depleted from teeth, are they less likely a candidate for porcelain veneers to cover them?

Doctor Answers 8

Contraindications for porcelain veneers

Porcelain veneers are a great option of esthetic treatment for anterior areas to improve the overall look of the smile. However, veneers are not the ideal option in certain cases: when very limited amount of enamel is left, severe worn teeth tissue, small clinical crown, small interacrch space, severe grinding habbits, etc. Not every patient is a candidate for veneers and sometimes the best option can be full crowns.

Can Teeth Still Have Porcelain Veneers if There is Little Enamel remaining on the Teeth?

The answer is "usually" yes, having some enamel missing does not eliminate a patient from being a candidate for porcelain veneers.  However, a couple things to consider.  Having enamel present is always better, as the veneer bonds stronger to enamel than to the underlying dentin. 

Many teeth have been partially broken or had large cavities or fillings and have been excellent candidates for porcelain veneers and did not have to have aggressive porcelain crowns, which in fact always require more drilling away of the tooth.

Most cosmetic dentists prefer doing veneers whenever possible because of the "less drilling away of the tooth" concept.  This has advantages as the underlying tooth will be stronger, less chance of sensitivity, the gums usually look better around the veneers than the crowns, there is a less likely chance that a root canal might be necessary, and oftentimes the general appearance of veneers is much more esthetic.


Norman Huefner, DDS
Laguna Niguel Dentist

Can Bad Teeth Have Porcelain Veneers?

Porcelain veneers are thin shells of porcelain that are bonded to the outer surface of your existing teeth.  When there is a significant amount of enamel that has been lost, the patient may no longer be a candidate for porcelain veneers.  For these types of cases, the patient will usually need to have all porcelain crowns that would cover the whole tooth.  These restorations are both strong and aesthetic.  You would be very happy with these I am sure.

Scott Young, DDS
Houston Dentist
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Porcelain Veneers for Bad Teeth

In general, yes, teeth that have extensive enamel depletion, for whatever reason, are less likely candidates for porcelain veneers.  This is because veneers usually cover only the front side of the teeth while crowns go all the way around the tooth.  However, depending on the amount, depth and location of the defect, a porcelain veneer may be the ideal way to restore a tooth in a more conservative fashion on teeth that are less affected while crowns may be required for those with more extensive structural loss.  Either way, look for a qualified cosmetic dentist who can thoroughly evaluate your specific situation and give you various options to reach your esthetic goals such as the possibility of mixing crowns and veneers to create a conservative, beautiful and seamless smile that is customized for you. 

Lorin F. Berland, DDS
Dallas Dentist
4.5 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Porcelain veneers require enough tooth structure to stay put

Yes, if teeth are too damaged, then porcelain veneers may not be possible.  However, this may mean that full coverage crowns would work, so a smile is still possible.  Generally speaking, anybody that wants a beautiful smile, but sometimes the solution is more involved than anticipated and an experienced cosmetic dentist will know what to do.

Lance Timmerman, DMD, MAGD
Seattle Dentist
4.3 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Correct, some teeth are not veneer candidates.

Veneers are best suited to healthy and intact teeth, meaning teeth that are not broken down severely.  Minor chips or wear is fine.  Teeth that are damaged or have had large fillings placed are better candidates for crowns, also known as caps.

Michael Firouzian, DDS
Columbus Dentist
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Teeth Too Bad for Veneers?

Every patient presents with a different situation and their needs differ accordingly. Yes.... sometimes teeth are too far gone for veneers and a crown might be the answer. In a smile makeover of the upper 6 or 8 front teeth it is not unusual for some of the teeth to need crowns and some need veneers. As long as the cosmetic dentist knows how to handle the case and uses a terrific dental ceramist you won't be able to tell which teeth have veneers and which teeth have crowns. They will be a dead match with each other.

Ted Murray, DDS
Dubuque Dentist

Some teeth cannot be restored with porcelain veneers

By definition, porcelain veneers are ultra-thin wafers of porcelain that are bonded to the enamel of teeth to improve their appearance ... change the colour, shape, or alignment.

Over the years, with the advent of new ceramic materials, the lines between veneers and crowns have blurred.  We now can refer to them as porcelain resorations.  The more tooth structure is missing, the closer these restorations become to traditional crowns, the more tooth structure that remains, the closer these restorations are to traditional veneers.

We now design the preparation for the restoration according to the condition and the needs of the tooth, whereas traditional dentistry prepares the tooth according to the needs of the restoration.

Martin Frankel, DDS
Toronto Dentist
3.7 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.