What Are Dental Veneers?
Dental veneers are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials designed to improve your appearance. Unlike crowns, which cover the entire tooth, veneers are only used on the front surface, so there’s much less preparation involved and minimal loss of the natural tooth structure.
Veneers can improve the color, shape, or size of a tooth. They can be bonded onto any number of teeth, though they’re usually only placed on teeth at the front of the mouth, where patients have the most cosmetic concerns. Once they are bonded, veneers will stay in place for many years and be virtually undetectable.
Dental veneers can be made from porcelain or from resin composite material. Porcelain veneers last longer and resist stains better than resin veneers. They also better mimic the light-reflecting properties of natural teeth. Your dentist can help you decide which type of veneer is right for you.
Veneers are routinely used to fix:
- Teeth that are chipped or broken
- Teeth that are misaligned, uneven, or irregularly shaped
- Teeth with gaps between them, to close the space between teeth
- Teeth that are discolored due to medications, root canal treatment, excessive fluoride, or other causes
- Teeth that are worn down
How Are Porcelain Veneers Placed?
To prepare your teeth for porcelain veneers, your dentist will remove a thin layer of tooth enamel to make space for the veneer. Your dentist may numb the area before trimming off the enamel.
Next, your dentist will make an impression of your teeth. This may be done with CAD/CAM 3D technology, in which case your veneers can be made and bonded to your teeth in one visit to the dental office. Alternatively, a model of your teeth is sent to a dental laboratory, which then makes your veneers. In this instance, you will be fitted with temporary veneers until your permanent veneers are ready.
When your veneers are ready, your dentist will bond them to your teeth and make any necessary adjustments so they look and feel like natural teeth.
Composite Resin Veneers
Composite veneers are sculpted directly onto your natural tooth with a white-colored resin. They typically require minimal tooth preparation, so they may be reversible in some cases. And since they are often completed in one day, patients do not need to wear temporary veneers.
Composite veneers cost less than porcelain veneers, but they come with some potential drawbacks. For example, composite veneers are not as strong as porcelain and may not be appropriate in higher-wear situations. Composite veneers also typically have a shorter lifespan than their porcelain counterparts, and they may not be able to cover imperfections to the same degree.
Before You Get Veneers
Before you get veneers, your oral health should be medically reviewed. Your dentist will want to examine your teeth and gums to ensure that they are healthy. Veneers may not be the right solution for you if you grind or clench your teeth, as this may damage veneers. Or your dentist may recommend that you wear a mouthguard if you get veneers, to reduce the risk of damage.
Your dentist will also ensure that veneers are the best option to treat the cosmetic concerns you have: in some cases, teeth whitening, crowns, or other dental procedures may be the better treatment choice, depending on your goals for your smile.
While dental veneers are suitable for adult teeth, they are not advised for baby teeth.
Caring For Your Veneers
No special care is required for your veneers — they can be maintained simply by brushing and flossing each day. Patients should also see their dentist regularly for professional teeth cleanings to ensure veneers are functioning optimally and to maintain good oral hygiene.