Dental veneers are extremely thin slips of tooth colored material that are custom made to fit over the front surfaces of teeth. They are usually made out of porcelain, and you’ll frequently hear them called porcelain veneers or porcelain laminates. Sometimes they are made out of a resin composite material, but resin looks less natural than porcelain, and is more likely to become stained. Veneers are perfect for anyone who wants to change their smile a little bit, but who doesn’t need to change their look substantially.
How Can Dental Veneers Improve a Smile?
Veneers can make a huge improvement to someone’s smile, and uses include:
- Repairing teeth which have become chipped, broken or worn down
- Creating a more regular appearance in teeth which are misaligned or misshapen
- Closing the gaps in between teeth
- Covering up teeth which have become discolored through use of prescription drugs, being exposed to excess fluoride, or through having root canal treatment
What is the process for having a veneer made?
You’ll usually need at least three visits to your dental office to have a veneer made and fitted. The initial visit will be for a consultation, and you’ll be able to discuss with your dentist exactly what you hope to achieve through having veneers fitted. They’ll be able to tell you whether your expectations are reasonable, and will discuss the procedure with you. They may take x-rays and impressions of your teeth at this stage.
If you are having a lot of veneers made, then some dental offices have computer software that can show you how your veneers will look, while others may send these initial impressions to their dental laboratory. The dental laboratory is able to construct what is called a diagnostic wax up on the model, allowing you to see an approximation of the final results.
If you decide to go ahead, then your dentist will need to prepare the tooth by removing at least half a millimeter from the surface. This is essential to make sure that the finished veneer isn’t too bulky. An impression of the prepared tooth is sent to the dental laboratory for the veneer to be custom-made. This generally takes between five and 10 working days. Once the veneer has been made, it can be tried in to see if the fit and color are satisfactory, before it is permanently cemented into place.
Advantages and disadvantages of traditional porcelain veneers
One of the major advantages of having porcelain veneers is their natural appearance, and the fact that most of the natural tooth structure can be conserved. They can be used to lighten up the shade of natural teeth, and they are resistant to staining.
A disadvantage to having porcelain veneers is that they do require the removal of a small amount of natural tooth structure, and this means the process is irreversible. Some people find their teeth become more sensitive to hot and cold foods afterwards, and because the protective layer of enamel has been removed, teeth can become more susceptible towards decay. Veneers will need replacing after five or 10 years, and this treatment isn’t suitable for anyone who grinds or clinches their teeth as the pressure may cause the porcelain to chip or crack.
Are there any alternatives to having traditional veneers?
There is another type of veneer available which doesn’t require the removal of any natural tooth structure, and which has the advantage of being reversible. These types of veneers are made out of very strong porcelain, and are incredibly thin. The teeth are merely lightly etched to aid bonding before the veneers are cemented into place, and this process is ideal for anyone who already has sensitive teeth. As the treatment doesn’t involve any drilling there is no need for any anaesthetic.
However this treatment isn’t suitable for everyone, as if your teeth are misshapen or stick out then the dentist will probably need to remove some tooth structure to reshape your smile without creating a smile which looks too big and which feels too bulky.