To prep or not to prep, whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take armes against a sea of troubles – sorry, I got carried away.

By David Hornbrook DDS FAACD – 27/01/2011 from
Are non-prep veneers an option for the demanding dentist and their patients, asks David S. Hornbrook, DDS, FAACD David Hornbrook is speaking at The Dentistry Show at the NEC, Birmingham on 4 and 5 March 2011.

Figure 1: Before treatment Figure 2: After with no-prep veneers 

One of the hottest topics in dentistry today is that of ‘no prep’ veneers. The interest in this technique is obviously consumer driven and the increased interest by clinicians is a direct result of their patients asking about it. The consumer, having read or seen marketing propaganda, comes to our office asking about treatment. The whole concept of prepless or minimal prep veneers has been around for many years, but it is only recently that we have seen such widespread interest among clinicians. Many clinicians placing veneers today were taught that they must do relatively aggressive preparation to yield acceptable aesthetic results and so the ability to place aesthetic veneers without preparation is a relatively new concept for most clinicians, yet one that they must be familiar with. This will be a huge paradigm shift for many clinicians, like myself, that always had the mindset that ‘if you are going to add something on the facial of the tooth, then you must remove something to make the room’.
Like many clinicians, there was a pool of patients that I had either declined treatment because they would not let me prep their teeth, or that didn’t approach me because they were concerned about getting their teeth prepped. As I began looking more closely at this technique, I struggled with the fact that the nonprep veneer cases that I had seen, prior to really understanding how to make this work, all looked bulky, ugly and too opaque. I did not think that they were representative of the type of artistic dentistry that I wanted to provide. I realise now that those cases were a direct reflection of the lack of pre-planning and designing the smile, incorrect use of materials, and the quality of the ceramists used, not because they were necessarily minimal preparation.
I think we, as dentists, need to look very closely at technique and concept of the prepless or minimal prep veneer and decide if this is something we can offer our patients that will provide a good aesthetic result coupled with a long-term prognosis. It’s important for the clinician to realise that there’s not just one certain brand of ceramic, or one certain manufacturer, or one laboratory that can do your prepless veneers. The prepless or minimal prep veneer is a technique, not a specific product. Any ceramic can be used and most all great ceramists can give you great results. Success is reliant on educating your ceramist to get involved in utilising the materials to do prepless or minimal prep veneers, and also the communication process in case selection and diagnosis. Many clinicians I have spoken with spend a lot of time in the smile design process and write a very detailed lab prescription when the treatment is a prepped veneer case; yet spend very little during this design process with a non-preparation veneer case.
The diagnostic process becomes even more important with these minimal preparation cases if you want to obtain predictable results. With the prepless veneer cases, I require more input from my ceramist to see if I can deliver a result that I can be proud of and that my patient is happy with. Many clinicians look at the prepless veneer as a ‘lesser’ veneer or cheaper veneer because it is not prepped. They use inferior laboratories or are not as concerned researching the best materials because of this. I think this is a huge mistake. Some that I have spoken to even take alginate impressions as the master impression and pour the models up themselves and send them to the lab! When the case is then retuned with ill fitting margins or compromised aesthetics, they use the prepless technique as an excuse for sub par restorations. With these prepless or minimal prep cases, we need to have an intimate relationship with our ceramist and we have to design the case, just as we would if it was a traditional veneer case. The lab
needs to give us input as to whether they can deliver acceptable results.
Although prepless veneers are not indicated for every case or even the majority of the cases, it certainly should be a part of every clinician’s restorative armamentarium. It is a great option on young adults or teenagers with microdontia, post orthodontics. Working with the orthodontist to align teeth correct can yield excellent results. Many of these thin veneers are only 0.2mm thick, so they can look natural and not overly bulky. Currently, I am using a leucite-reinforced pressed ceramic for my prepless veneers (Emprethins,, because I like the physical properties of this ceramic.
The bottom line is to be educated and truly understand the indications and contraindications of this technique before attempting a case or dismissing it as not being a possibility. 

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