Veneers are similar to crowns in the way they change the appearance, colour and shape of the tooth/teeth they are put on. A veneer is a thin layer of porcelain that fits to the front of the tooth. Veneers can be made from a variety of materials listed below:
- Composite (same material used for the tooth coloured fillings), these can be bonded directly to the tooth with no need to have them made at the laboratory. These veneers are not as strong and can discolour.
- Porcelain, these are constructed by the technician in a laboratory and cemented into place, porcelain veneers are stronger and do not discolour like the composite veneers
- Ceramic veneers, these are also laboratory constructed. They are extremely strong and look the most natural.
Veneers can be used for a many different reasons:
- To lighten the shade of a tooth/teeth to match with the rest
- To even out the colour appearance of the tooth/teeth especially when the tooth is heavily filled.
- To repair badly chipped or fractured teeth
- To change the shape of the tooth
- To realign teeth in the arch
- To close gaps if orthodontics has not been able to, or if it is not an option.
Unlike crowns where a considerable amount of tooth has to be removed from around the whole tooth, veneers require only a small amount of the enamel to be removed. The same amount of tooth that is removed will be replaced by the veneer. Veneers are very aesthetic as they look natural. Due to the technique used to prepare the teeth and make the veneers, they are very thin and cemented in place with specific bonding material such as dental superglue!
In some instances it will be necessary to “numb” the tooth that is to be prepared, mainly to limit any discomfort that may be felt, every patient is individual so this will be different for everyone, and may not be required. The dentist will prepare the tooth and then take a mould of the tooth/teeth and one of the opposing arch so the bite can be seen. This information along with the shade of the veneer will be sent to the technician and the veneer will be custom made. If it is a composite veneer being attached then no moulds are needed and it will be bonded immediately to the tooth with the correct shade to match with the other surrounding teeth.
In some cases there will be no need for a temporary veneer to be placed as the preparation is very minimal, however if the dentist deems it necessary he will place a temporary veneer to protect the tooth.
Veneer treatment takes at least two visits, the first to prepare the tooth/teeth, the second to attach the veneer to the tooth/teeth. When the veneer has been made it will be “tried” first, if there are any problems with the shape or shade of the veneer it is easier to change before it is permanently fitted. If you are happy with it, the veneer will be bonded to the tooth. You may be required to see the dentist after a week or so to make any minor adjustments and to see how everything feels.
Depending on the type of veneers fitted they should last from 5-15 years minimum provided they are cared for and the gums are kept healthy. Veneers can be damaged just as your own teeth can. They can also sometimes come off; these should be able to be fixed back on. In the rare case of a veneer breaking a new veneer can be made and fitted.
Costs for this treatment can vary from practice to practice so it is important to discuss charges and treatment options with your dentist before starting.