Many talking points have emerged from Love Island since the winter series began, from Nas’s height to Rebecca’s contraception patch. But one that’s been the basis of many memes is Connor’s teeth – specifically the large, white veneers he had done in Thailand by a “random dentist”.
Connor’s pearly whites have already got in the way of romantic liaisons on the island – as he put it: “My teeth hit her teeth.”
So what are veneers? How much do they cost? And does it hurt to have your gnashers filed within an inch of their life? Here’s what you need to know.
What are veneers?
A veneer is a thin layer of material placed over a tooth or teeth, usually ceramic or porcelain, to tidy them up – a bit like false nails.
You might get a veneer to cover up a chipped or discoloured tooth, or perhaps you want to get a whole set of them for aesthetic reasons, such as reducing small gaps between your teeth or to give the illusion of straighter teeth.
How much do they cost?
They’re very expensive and, in the UK, can cost anywhere from £600-£900 per tooth, depending on the type of veneer you choose. If you go for a full set, you could be looking at parting with up to £15,000.
Porcelain veneers are more realistic looking and long-lasting, but also much more expensive than composite veneers. Gum tissue tolerates porcelain “very well”, though, says Dimitri Mantazis, principal dentist at Hove Dental Clinic.
Veneers are only available on the NHS if they’re needed to improve the health of your mouth, rather than just to improve the appearance of your teeth.
What does the process involve?
“The treatment is fairly straightforward,” says Mantazis. “First we prep the patient’s teeth, which involves trimming an incredibly thin layer off [the front] of the tooth to ensure there’s enough room for the veneer to be placed. Temporary veneers are then created using a 3D model to show the patient what their veneers will look like.”
This gives people an opportunity to trial their new “teeth”, before the permanent veneers are made. At this stage, any changes or adjustments can be made to the temporaries, then reproduced in the actual veneers.
Once they’re made, the final stage involves attaching the permanent veneers to the teeth. This is done using a dental cement-like paste, then UV light is used to harden it.
From first consultation to final placement, the overall process usually takes around three to four weeks, says Mantazis.
Will it hurt?
The prospect of having your teeth shaved down might leave you with the chills, but Mantazis insists it won’t hurt.
“The treatment area is always numbed before the veneers are fitted,” he adds, “so the procedure should be comfortable and pain-free.”
You might feel a small tugging sensation, he says, “but that is a normal part of the treatment and again, is painless.”
Are veneers permanent?
Veneers are stain-resistant and long-lasting if you follow a sensible hygiene routine – brushing twice a day, flossing and visiting the dentist regularly.
But while being very durable, they’re not permanent. “Properly looked after veneers can last up to 15-20 years,” says Mantazis.
When veneers come near to the end of their life cycle, they’ll need to be replaced. The veneers are removed carefully, and new ones are created.
What are the downsides of getting veneers?
The veneer process is irreversible so if you decide you don’t like them, there’s no going back. You could opt for smaller veneers, or a different material, but this would set you back thousands of pounds.
“If you chip or damage your veneers, they cannot [always] be repaired,” adds Mantazis. You could get a new veneer to replace the damaged one, but you can never return to the state of your original teeth.
For people who grind or clench their teeth, veneers are also risky, as they can become damaged, chipped or cracked, according to The Harley Street Smile Clinic. People with this problem should speak to their dentist before the procedure as they’ll likely need to have a mouth guard fitted to protect their new teeth.
After the procedure, some people may suffer with sore gums for a while, however this usually calms down. Some patients have also reported increased tooth sensitivity – for most people this fades eventually, but some have been known to struggle with it indefinitely – so you need to be absolutely certain that you really want veneers before you go ahead.