Veneers are very thin, tooth-colored shells of ceramic that are custom-fit and bonded to the front of the teeth. They can create a white, even, and attractive smile. Veneers make it possible to correct a variety of problems, including:
- Spaces between the teeth
- Chipped teeth
- Yellowing or stains
- Misshapen or crooked teeth
- Small holes or pits in teeth
- Uneven or undersized teeth
A veneer placed on top of a tooth can quickly and easily help achieve a beautiful smile. Although some veneers are designed to be removable, most are permanent and are bonded very tightly to the tooth they are protecting. The advancements in technology have improved bonding agents to the point where some types of veneers may last for 20 years or more.
Types of Veneers
Porcelain or Indirect Veneers
Porcelain veneers are custom-made in a laboratory and applied to the teeth. They resist stains better than composite veneers and better simulate the shine of natural teeth. Two appointments are required for this process: one for taking an impression, and a second for preparing the natural teeth and placing the veneers once they have been created. Lumineers® and Vivaneers® are two types of porcelain veneers that are so thin they don't require any tooth-buffing before placement.
Composite or Direct Veneers
Composite veneers are much faster and more efficient than porcelain veneers. They can be set and fixed within one visit and cost significantly less money. Composite veneers are thinner and require less removal of the tooth surface before placement. They can expand and contract with natural fluctuations in tooth size, which makes it the perfect choice for repairing fractured teeth.
The Veneer Procedure
The placement of porcelain veneers will require three appointments for the following:
Diagnosis and Treatment Planning
During this appointment, your dentist will examine the teeth to make sure dental veneers are appropriate. An X-ray may also be taken at this time. The dentist will also discuss the corrective abilities and limitations of the procedure, as well as provide the patient an opportunity to take an active role in designing and discussing the restorative veneer process.
At the second appointment, the teeth receiving the veneers are lightly buffed to prepare the surface for proper adhesion. The tooth is typically reduced by approximately one half of a millimeter. An impression is taken of the teeth and sent to the lab for creation of the custom-made veneer. A temporary veneer can be placed if the patient is uncomfortable with the appearance of the natural teeth. The veneer is usually ready one to two weeks later.
At the third appointment, the dentist will test the veneers onto the teeth with water or glycerin to determine that they are perfect in fit and color. The color of the veneer can still be adjusted at this time by altering the shade of the cement used to adhere it. Once the color is finalized, chemicals are applied to the tooth to optimize the bonding. Dental cement is then applied between the teeth and veneer. Finally, a special light is used to quickly harden the cement.
Care and Maintenance of Veneers
Veneers should be treated just like natural teeth. They should be brushed and flossed regularly. Porcelain or Composite veneers will not be damaged by brushing and flossing, although using non-abrasive toothpaste is recommended.
Sensitivity to hot and cold may occur after placement of veneers. This is caused by the reduction of enamel on the prepared teeth. Sensitivity is a very common residual effect that typically dissipates in one to two weeks.
New veneers will help achieve the goal of improving the appearance of teeth. With proper home care and regular dental visits, patients will experience long lasting success with their new veneers and smile.