Dental veneers are thin shells of porcelain or composite resin that are custom made to fit over teeth, providing a natural, attractive look. They can be used to fix chipped, stained, misaligned, worn down, uneven or abnormally spaced teeth. The two most common materials used in dental veneers are composite resin and porcelain. Both types of veneers can be fabricated by a dental technician in a laboratory and are bonded to the patient’s teeth in a dentist’s office. Dental veneers are bonded to the teeth with resin cement. Porcelain material is brittle; however, when it is firmly bonded to the tooth it can become very strong and durable. The right veneers are a quick way to a beautiful smile, but veneers are an irreversible treatment, so having them placed is a big decision. Before you and your dentist decide the procedure is right for you, it’s important to have the right information about veneers, their cost and how best to care for them.
What are Veneers?
According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), a veneer is a “thin piece of porcelain used to re-create the natural look of teeth, while also providing strength and resilience comparable to natural tooth enamel.” They are custom made to the contour of your teeth and are bonded to the tooth’s original enamel during a series of in-office procedures.
Why are Veneers Used in Dentistry?
Veneers are a less invasive option than crowns or braces. According to the British Dental Health Foundation, veneers can be used to close gaps or correct small misalignments. Patients also choose veneers as a comestic solution to enhance the brightness of their teeth and to straighten their smile, correcting issues like discoloration, fractures, or chips.
The most commonly used material for veneers are the conventional porcelain veneer and composite resin veneers. Porcelain veneers are preferable for correcting issues of shape or color and can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years.
The typical process takes three to four appointments, including two consultation sessions. If the veneer is prefabricated it usually takes one appointment and if the laboratory is creating the veneer it takes two appointments. We will focus on highlighting placement of the porcelain veneer created by the laboratory:
- Local anesthetia is not usually required when placing veneers. However, for better comfort throughout the procedure, it can be used if needed. The dentist will clean the tooth and determine the correct shade for the veneer. The dentist will remove a very small amount of the enamel of the tooth, aprroximately 0.5-0.7 mm to provide room to place the veneer on the tooth.
- An impression (moulds) of the teeth will be made for the laboratory and a temporary veneer will be placed on the tooth. The laboratory can take 7-10 working days to fabricate the veneers.
- After the laboratory has delivered the porcelain veneer to your dentist, the temporary veneer is removed, the tooth is cleaned with pumice and water.
- Using a try-in cement, the permanent veneer will then be placed on the tooth to check for the fit, color, shape and size. At this stage, you can tell your dentist if there are any changes you would like be made.
- If all is to your satisfaction, the veneer is then etched, rinsed thoroughly with water and air dried. The adhesive is placed on the preparation and then the permanent cement and the veneer is placed for exact fit and contour.
- The veneer is then light cured for 60 seconds on all surfaces of it to attach it to the tooth structure.
- Your dentist will remove any excess material and polish the margins of the veneer.
Many dentists will schedule a follow-up visit to check for comfort; a comfortable veneer will be a long-lasting veneer. Below are examples of what veneers can do in order to enhance your smile and overall facial appearance.