What are Lumineers®?
What's special about them?
The main characteristic that sets Lumineers® veneers apart from traditional porcelain veneers is that they can be made ultra thin.
- In advertising, Den-Mat states that Lumineers® can be as thin as a contact lense.
- In more precise terms, the can be as little as .2 to .3 millimeters thick. (That's on the order of 1/100th of an inch.)
- As a basis of comparison, the minimal thickness possible with traditional porcelain veneers is typically on the order of .5 millimeters or so (almost twice as thick).
Why is a veneer's thickness important?
Ultra-thin porcelain veneers, like Lumineers®, give a dentist a new option in how they are placed. A technique can be used where no drilling is required. Of course, many patients find this new method preferable.
Here's a brief comparison of the two methods used to make porcelain veneers.
a) Traditional placement.
When traditional porcelain veneers are made for a patient, each tooth is trimmed back about the same thickness as the veneer it will receive. That means ...
- Some healthy tooth structure (enamel) is trimmed away.
- The patient has to endure the drilling process.
- The use of a dental anesthetic is often needed.
b) The no-drilling / no-shots option that can be used with Lumineers®.
Ultra-thin Lumineers® can be placed using a technique where no tooth trimming is required (see below). As an added advantage, since no drilling is needed, in many cases no dental anesthetic (a "shot") is needed either.
c) Other thickness considerations.
Ultra-thin porcelain veneers have their drawbacks. One of them has to with their light-handling characteristics.
In general, thicker veneers tend to have a higher level of translucency, which allows them to reflect light in a manner that's very similar to dental enamel. Translucent veneers are known for having a very lustrous, natural look.
In comparison, thin veneers (used to get the same tooth masking effect in the same application) will need to be relatively more opaque. And due to this characteristic, they will reflect light differently and as a result look comparatively less lifelike.
How else are they unique?
"No drilling, no shots" Lumineers® placement.
Advertisements for Lumineers® typically tout the claim that they can be placed without the need for any tooth trimming or a dental anesthetic (a "shot").
Here's what you need to know about the use of this option.
Traditional veneering technique.
When porcelain veneers are placed using a traditional protocol, the front side of the tooth is usually trimmed back about the same thickness as the veneer that will be bonded to it.
The idea is that the dentist wants the final contours and overall size of the tooth to fall within normal limits.
If the tooth isn't trimmed back first, the final outcome would be one where the tooth is oversized due to the added thickness of the veneer.
When using ultra-thin Lumineers®, an alternative placement option is possible, one where the tooth isn't trimmed at all.
In this case, even though no tooth reduction has been performed, the overall size of the tooth isn't changed drastically because the veneer that's been bonded is so thin. The contours and overall shape of the tooth remain within acceptable limits.
(Note in our diagram that either method results in a tooth shape that's essentially the same.)
The traditional method can be used with Lumineers® too.
Lumineers® aren't limited to just "no drilling, no shots" placement. They can always be made thicker and placed using traditional veneering methods too. The technique that's chosen simply depends on the requirements of the situation.