Veneers are thin shells made of porcelain or resin
composite material that cover the front surface of
teeth. They are designed to change the color, shape,
size, or length of a tooth.
Veneers are primarily used for cosmetic purposes and
are often placed to fix teeth that are:
* Discolored from excessive root canal treatments, tetracycline, fluoride, or large resin fillings
* Worn down
* Chipped or broken
* Misaligned, uneven, or shaped irregularly
* Gapped or have spaces between them
Veneers made with porcelain can resist stains and mimic the light reflecting properties of natural teeth better than resin veneers. Veneers made of resin are thinner but don’t require as much of the tooth surface to be removed. Dentists can help patients choose which material is best for them.
Veneers typically require three trips to the dentist to finish placing them. The first appointment is a consultation and the other two are for making and applying the veneers.
During the first appointment, patients discuss the results they would like to see. The dentist examines the patient’s teeth to determine whether veneers are suitable and may also take X-rays and/or impressions of the patient’s mouth and teeth,
The second appointment is the preparation stage. The dentist removes a very small layer of enamel, usually about half a millimeter, before making an impression of the tooth. The model of the tooth is created at a dental laboratory to be made into a veneer, which may take up to two weeks to be constructed and returned to the dentist’s office. If the veneer is expected to take a long time to make, a temporary veneer may be placed at an extra cost to the patient.
When the veneer arrives at the dentist’s office, the third appointment is made to bond it to the patient’s tooth. The dentist may test the fit and color of the veneer before preparing the tooth to be permanently cemented with it. The tooth is then thoroughly cleaned, polished, and etched. The veneer is then applied to the tooth with a special cement, which is activated with a light beam. After the cement hardens, the dentist will clean the area of extra cement, testing the bite, and making any needed adjustments. If necessary, the dentist may ask for a follow-up appointment to check on how the surrounding gums are accepting the veneer.
Before getting a veneer placed, patients should know that the process cannot be reversed, may be more expensive than composite resin bonding, are not repairable if chipped or cracked, and do not react to normal teeth whitening procedures. They may also cause some sensitivity and can sometimes fall off with excessive pressure. Veneers should be replaced within 5 to 10 years of their application. Patients may want to consider bondings or crowns as alternatives to veneers.