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Can Veneers Be Shortened?

Dental veneers can be shortened even after they've been bonded onto the teeth but there is a limit to how much you can adjust them. Shortening them too much can have adverse consequences, which we're certain that you won't like.


Unfortunately there are situations where it would be better to just have them replaced rather than adjusted shorter.


Process to shorten veneers

Porcelain veneers on teeth can be shortened and the process is akin to enameloplasty. It's really no different than shaving down a ceramic crown or even adjusting a composite filling. It is a simple and quick procedure that takes less than a minute.


Shade matching a veneer
Shade matching a veneer

What to expect during procedure:

  • Your dentist will attach a fine diamond onto his high speed handpiece and use it to grind away or shorten the porcelain laminate.

  • Expect a lot of water and air.

  • Entire process will be painless and local anesthesia is not required.


dental high speed handpiece with fine diamond bur
dental high speed handpiece with fine diamond bur

With that being said, there is a limit to how much shorter you can make it before you start experiencing adverse consequences.


Can I do it at home?

No you cannot adjust the veneer shorter at home because you do not have the proper instruments to do it. The process may be simple but the high speed handpiece does rotate at 10s of thousands of RPM with the fine diamond in order to grind it down.


There is no way for you to replicate that process at home and no, using a 4 inch angle grinder will most likely send you to the hospital with a facial laceration.


angle grinder with diamond cutting blade
angle grinder with diamond cutting blade

That is extremely dangerous so don't even think about it. Seeing your dentist is the safest and most responsible way to do it. Intricate procedures require intricate equipment.


 

Adverse effects of too much shortening

There is a limit to how much you can shorten a veneer before you start experiencing adverse effects.


The limit: The most that you can shorten a porcelain veneer is less than 1mm but to be safe, I recommend less than 0.5mm; To be crystal clear, I am indeed talking about millimeters.

  • Do not shorten it more than 1 millimeter.

  • Recommendation is to shorten it no more than half a millimeter to be safe.


If the limit and numbers look small, it truly is because dentistry exists in the world of the millimeter! At least that is what my professor use to say back in dental school.


Adverse effects:

  • Fracture risk. Any type of major adjustment including shortening the laminate can compromise its integrity thus increasing the chance of it fracturing.

  • Sensitivity. Shortening too much can potentially leave the dentin exposed which can be a source for teeth sensitivity.

  • Debonding. Shaving off too much porcelain can affect the bond strength and the whole veneer may pop off.


Veneer cracked in half and another with a fracture line
Veneer cracked in half and another with a fracture line

The image above shows two damaged veneers.

  • One cracked in half and is missing half of it.

  • The second one has sustained a crack line but hasn't popped off yet.


Once again, there is a limit to how much you can adjust it before it becomes a better idea to just replace it instead.


 

Replacement as an alternative

If you're unable to shorten your porcelain laminates in your mouth, your only other option would be to have it redone. That means taking it off and replacing it with a new one.


What to expect:

  1. Local anesthesia to numb the tooth.

  2. Drill off the veneer.

  3. Take a new impression of the prepared tooth.

  4. Pick a tooth shade.

  5. Fabricate a temporary veneer.

  6. Wait for dental lab to make it. (1-2 weeks).

  7. Return to dentist to have it bonded in.


If that sounds like dejavu, it is because you're basically repeating the entire procedure which you had done already! It is a little unfortunate but it is the best thing to do if you're unable to adjust it shorter.


 

Verdict

Veneers can be shortened even if you've already had them for many years. The process is quick and painless to do the adjustment but there is a limitation to how short you can make it. If you're having issues with yours, you can schedule a consultation with one of our dentists in Long Island City to have it addressed.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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