Should You Allow Your Teen To Get Dental Veneers?

Veneers are thin layers of porcelain that can be applied to chipped, stained or otherwise unattractive teeth in order to improve their appearance. They have become popular because they are nearly painless to apply and can be used to correct a wide array of dental abnormalities in just a few quick appointments.

Many adults turn to veneers to hide unattractive teeth, but more and more teens are learning about veneers and asking their parents if they, too, can get veneers to improve their smiles. Should you say "yes," or tell your child to wait until he or she is older? The answer really depends on how responsible your teen is and on the nature of his or her dental problems.

Veneers are not a substitute for braces.

Be wary that your child may be asking for veneers because he or she is afraid of the pain and embarrassment associated with wearing braces. Veneers are not a substitute for braces. They do not actually move the teeth back into place, and while they can be used to cover teeth that are slightly misaligned, they cannot camouflage teeth that are more than a little out of place.

If you think your child may be requesting veneers in order to get out of wearing braces, talk to your child and to your dentist about invisible aligners, which are clear, plastic devices that fit over the teeth to straighten them. Invisible aligners offer your teen a way to straighten his or her teeth without the dreaded metal-mouth appearance of braces -- and unlike veneers, they're an actual solution for the problem rather than just a camouflage.

Veneers don't last forever, and they do require some responsibility.

When properly applied, veneers can last up to 10 years. Hopefully, this is a lot longer than your teen's lifespan. He or she will need to have the veneers replaced, so it's important to take this into consideration when deciding whether or not to have them applied. Is your teen willing to commit to the cost of new veneers every 10 years, or perhaps even more often?

Although patients tend to get used to veneers quickly, they do require a little responsibility. Your teen should wear a mouth guard when playing sports to avoid chipping the veneers. He or she will have to avoid super-crunchy foods and opening packages with the teeth. Dark, staining liquids like coffee and wine should be avoided, since these will stain the non-covered teeth and make veneers more obvious. Make sure your teen understands these limitations before allowing him or her to get veneers.

Once a veneer wearer, always a veneer wearer.

In order to apply the veneers to your teen's teeth, your dentist will have to remove a thin layer of enamel from the surface of the teeth. For this reason, once your teen begins wearing veneers, he or she will have to wear them forever.

If they become broken or chipped, they will need to be replaced. This may not be a worry for many teens whose teeth are badly misshapen or stained -- they likely won't want to go back to their natural smile. However, for teens with only minor staining or dental irregularities, it's important to weigh the life-long cost of veneers and possible replacements to decide whether a slight smile improvement is really worth it.

If your teen's teeth are unattractive and his or her self-esteem is suffering as a result, veneers may be an acceptable solution. However, it's important not to use them in place of permanent dental treatments to correct for crooked or chipped teeth. Have these procedures conducted first, and then consider having veneers applied to mask remaining problems.

Many teens are glad to wear a mouth guard and avoid black coffee in order to enjoy the appearance of straighter, whiter teeth, but make sure your teen understands that veneers are a lifelong commitment before agreeing to this cosmetic procedure.

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