How Many Veneers Do You Need?

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Matthew Perry 6 ugly veneersYou’re unhappy with your smile and are thinking about getting some cosmetic dentistry done, but you’re not sure how many teeth to have done?  In this article I’ll answer many of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that we hear during Cosmetic Dentistry Consultations.

Take a good look at this old image of Matthew Perry from his early days in Friends to see what you DON’T want.  🙂  It isn’t hard to see a few mistakes there, right?

If you’d like to see more examples of the cosmetic dentistry that we do in our Charlotte dental office, you can read and see more here:

But First – Veneers/Crowns or Braces?

Before we start talking about how many porcelain veneers or crowns you need/want, let’s talk about when cosmetic dentistry is best and when braces, whether Invisalign, Six Month Braces, or the Inman Aligner, might be a better choice.  In simplest terms, I suggest thinking of it like this:

If you like the way your teeth look overall, but they’re just crooked, choose braces.  It’s less expensive and non-invasive, even if it takes a bit longer.  If your teeth are badly worn, severely stained, broken, or will look ugly even if they are straight, then porcelain veneers/crowns are a better option.  Veneers can make the teeth look beautiful, not just straight.  Sometimes, you may need braces first, then veneers.

How Many Porcelain Veneers Do You Need?

Take another look at Matthew Perry’s smile above and you’ll understand why these 3 questions are critical:

  1. How big is your smile?  IOW when you look in the mirror and smile big, how many teeth do you see?
  2. How much whiter do you want your teeth?  A little bit or a lot?  Or are you happy with the whiteness?
  3. Besides the color, do you want to change anything about the length, width, shape, or overall size?

In simple terms, the bigger your smile and the bigger the changes that you want, the more teeth have to be treated.

How Many Teeth Show In Your Smile?

No – not just looking straight on – look from the sides, too.  Too many people think they only show 6 teeth, because that’s what they see in the mirror.  But if you turn your head just a little to one side, you’ll realize that you probably show at least 8 or 10 teeth total in a big grin.  You see what a big mistake that was for Matthew Perry, right?  He clearly needed 10-12 veneers, his grin is so wide.  That’s why I also had to do 10 veneers for my wife, Fara, as seen below.

Cosmetic dentistry with porcelain veneers by Charlotte dentist Dr. Payet

Of course, if you are only unhappy with 1-2 teeth in that whole smile, you always have the option of only treating those specific teeth.  Just because you show a lot of teeth in your smile doesn’t mean all of them need porcelain veneers or crowns, but if you want to change your whole smile, you do need to plan on treating ALL the teeth that show in your smile.

How Much Whiter Do You Want Your Smile?

Again, Matthew is a great example. He obviously wanted his smile to be a lot brighter; he’s in Hollywood after all.  It’s easy to see that, if you make a dramatic change in the color of your smile, you can’t stop half way.  This is one of the most important reasons to look at how many teeth you show when smiling.  If you want much brighter teeth, you have to do all the teeth that show.  Sometimes that means doing the bottom teeth, too.

If you’re keeping the color teeth you already have, you have more freedom to choose how many teeth get veneers.  In fact, if you like the natural color of your teeth, you might only need to do whichever teeth you don’t like.  However, if you only get 1-2 teeth done but want your whole smile brighter, do Teeth Whitening FIRST.  Porcelain can’t be whitened!

Are You Changing the Size, Shape, Length, or Width?

Let’s take my own teeth (Dr. Payet’s) as an example. These veneers were done in March 2006, just before Fara and I got married, by Dr. Steven Ghim.  As you can see, my teeth before veneers were pretty ugly.  I had braces for 3 years in high school and 2 years at age 28.  After years of coffee and Coca-Cola, they were badly stained and demineralized.  I also disliked the shape of my teeth and wanted a more masculine, squared-off, straight look.  To get a bright white smile all the way across, meant I needed 8 veneers.  See how my smile would have looked as bad as Matthew Perry’s if I hadn’t done all the teeth that show?  Realistically, I also needed some minor gum surgery, aka a Gum Lift, to get all the gum levels and tooth lengths even.  I just didn’t have time.  When these veneers need replacing,I’ll get that done.  I’ll also get porcelain onlays on my molars so they match, too.

Cosmetic dentist of Charlotte NC, Dr. Payet, shows his own porcelain dental veneers

Pro Tip: don’t be a bad patient like I was and call us less than 6 weeks before your wedding (like I did to Dr. Ghim! 🙂 ).  It puts a little pressure on us.  Dr. Ghim actually bonded my veneers on just 4 days before the wedding.  However, you can easily see why I’m so glad I did this before the wedding.


To make an appointment for a Complimentary Consultation:

Request an Appointment Online or call us at 704-364-7069.

We’ll look forward to meeting you soon!

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