Can Any Dentist Do Lumineers?

Dr. Hall:

I saw an ad for Lumineers porcelain veneers and would like to know what you think of them. I have dark teeth, and I would prefer not to have my teeth grinded down, but have always wanted to have a white smile that was one color! How long should Lumineers last? Can anyone put them on, since they’re made in a lab?


Dear Valerie,

Lumineers are a brand of porcelain veneers made by Den-Mat Corporation. They are extra strong and a little thinner than other porcelain veneers, so the claim is that they can be just pasted or bonded over the top of your teeth with no drilling, because they add very little bulk to the teeth. That makes them seem very easy to place. They are easier, but their very easiness to place has a significant down side.

Lumineers do simplify the placement of porcelain veneers. But other complexities of cosmetic dentistry are all still present and all just as complex, maybe even more so. Properly placing them requires the hand of an artist, to properly design them for the shape of your face and your personality. When there is no drilling on the teeth beforehand, certain parts of the smile design process actually become more complicated, because the cosmetic dentist is confined to working with the shapes of the teeth the way they are. Color control, which is actually the area where general dentists have the most trouble when they attempt to do cosmetic dentistry, becomes more difficult when the porcelain veneer is thinner. Hue, chroma, translucency, color depth, brightness, and highlights, all need to be handled correctly for you to have a beautiful smile.

When Lumineers May Be Indicated

Lumineers are appropriate for some people. Whether they would be good for you or not I couldn’t tell you without an examination. And cosmetic dentistry isn’t so simple as just pasting some veneers over the top of someone’s teeth and letting the lab do the rest. The lab cannot make up for what the dentist doesn’t know in a situation like this.

Look for an Expert Cosmetic Dentist to Place Your Lumineers

Don’t just pick a dentist from their list.

The company that makes Lumineers is advertising them to the public, and they have a certification program where dentists can take a two-day course to learn how to place them. If dentists pay the fee and attend the program, they become certified to place Lumineers and earn a spot on Den-Mat’s referral list. But I advise you to be cautious. Two days isn’t long enough to transform a general dentist into a cosmetic dentist. Besides, mere attendance at a course provides no assurance of the artistic ability of the dentist or how much the dentist has retained of what is learned. We strongly advise, for a major procedure as life-altering as porcelain veneers can be, you seek the services of an expert cosmetic dentist. A patient in Texas had a bad experience that illustrates this point well. Another patient in Arizona had her Lumineers crack and other problems. And we tell of more problems people have had with them on our blog. You may want to check out all these stories.

These could be good for a case where your teeth are already too small. On another page we discuss porcelain veneers for small teeth. There are other cases where Lumineers would be best for you. But go to a dentist fully trained in all aspects of cosmetic dentistry. Have you heard the old saying, “If you’re a hammer, every problem is a nail”? Beware of dentists who specialize in one procedure.

Also beware of the advertising hype. The advertising states that Lumineers are only 1/3 of a millimeter thick. Well, other porcelain veneers are typically 1/2 of a millimeter thick, so the difference isn’t as dramatic as the advertising would make you think. And when a no-drill technique is used, you will likely end up with a slight ridge where the veneer meets your tooth. This ridge could attract stains on the edges of your porcelain veneers. It could also make your tooth more susceptible to tooth decay because it attracts plaque. Or, it could irritate the gums. Your teeth will also end up being lengthened with this technique. If that fits your bite and your appearance, then that’s fine, but get a cosmetic dentist who will be honest with you in telling you the advantages and disadvantages and what you can expect.

We got one e-mail from a patient who, because of the extra thickness, was having her lip catch on the Lumineers. This happened especially while she was talking. This could be embarrassing, so beware of this possibility. Click on the link to read Dr. Hall’s response.

A product that is very similar is Vivaneers, which are made by Glidewell Laboratories.

Other related questions:

To return to the frequent questions page, click here.
Read Dr. Hall’s blog posts about Lumineers, to read his answers to questions from site visitors.
The bottom line: go to an expert cosmetic dentist for your Lumineers.