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What are Lumineers?

Lumineers are a brand of porcelain veneers that are made by Den-Mat, a dental materials company in Santa Maria, California. They aren\'t a lot different from most other brands. Their selling point is that they are stronger than most other brands of veneers, so they can be made thinner. It is generally recommended that porcelain veneers be made a minimum of 0.5 millimeter thick, about the thickness of a fingernail. For Lumineers, they can go a little thinner, down to 0.3 millimeter.

Vivaneers are another brand of porcelain veneer that is strong enough to be this thin.

To me, the strength is not a big issue. A porcelain veneer gets its strength from being fused to the tooth with bonding technology. If it is bonded properly, it will not crack or break in function.

Their thinness, however, makes it feasible to place Lumineers with a \"no-prep\" technique. In other words, Den-Mat is saying that the dentist doesn\'t have to shave away any tooth structure in order to place them.

So is that a good idea - to not prepare the teeth before placing porcelain veneers?

Lumineers are a compromise
Placing extra-thin porcelain veneers without any tooth preparation makes the artistry of a new smile makeover more difficult. Adding 0.3 millimeter to the thickness of the teeth makes them look bulky. They also have to be made about 2 millimeters longer. And they will end up with a rounded look, because they have to be feathered out on the sides. I haven\'t seen a case where that was the best look for the patient. So the question becomes, is the tradeoff worth it? Is the idea of not having your teeth prepared attractive enough to you that you will sacrifice the beauty of the smile design?

Here is a case that was posted on the Lumineers website in late December 2008 as a \"case of the week:\"
Yes, her teeth are whiter in the \"after\" picture. But is her smile really improved? Frankly, I like her \"before\" smile better. A little bleaching wouldn\'t have hurt. But in her \"after\" smile, the teeth look a little too long, too bulky, and too rounded.

One patient wrote to me and complained that her lip was catching on her Lumineers. This can be a problem when the teeth are made a little thicker.

Another problem with a no-preparation technique is that you will likely end up with a slight ridge at the edge of the veneer. This ridge could attract stains and plaque. Or, it could irritate the gums.

One selling point is that, since the teeth aren\'t prepared beforehand, you could have the Lumineers removed if you decided you didn\'t like them. I understand the appeal of that reasoning. But I think the best insurance isn\'t whether or not you could have them removed afterwards, but choosing the right cosmetic dentist to place them in the first place. In twenty years of doing porcelain veneers, I never had a patient come back regretting their new smile or asking about having them removed.

Should you get Lumineers?
Whether or not you should get Lumineers is a judgment call, and it depends on your personal preferences. If you want the most beautiful, stunning smile makeover possible, I would say no. If it\'s important to you not to have your teeth shaved at all, then you may want to consider them.

But have them done by an expert cosmetic dentist. The manufacturer, Den-Mat, is promoting them as easy to place, and they offer a two-day course after which the dentist is certified to place Lumineers and they get to be on Den-Mat\'s referral list. But two days is no where near enough time to turn a general dentist into a cosmetic dentist. That, to me, is a three- to five-year process of attending numerous continuing education classes and working to apply the principles learned. And even then, the dentist needs to be artistically inclined to start with. Using a no-preparation technique requires more, not less, artistic ability. To find an expert cosmetic dentist, go to our find a cosmetic dentist section.

Here is a case done with Lumineers by an expert cosmetic dentist, Dr. Michael Drance. While the results are very good, to me the teeth look a little too rounded. But within the constraints he had, in working with the existing shapes of her teeth, Dr. Drance did an excellent job.


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