Are you looking to improve your smile? Maybe your teeth are discolored or chipped. Or maybe they’re misaligned, uneven, or irregularly shaped. Dental veneers are routinely used to correct all of these issues, creating a bright, white, beautiful smile. Here’s some general information about this simple cosmetic dental procedure to help you decide if veneers are right for you.
Dental veneers, also referred to as porcelain veneers, are custom-made, wafer-thin shells that are made of tooth-colored materials. They are designed to adhere to the front surface of teeth to improve the appearance. They can be made of porcelain or from a resin composite. While the porcelain variety resists stains better, resin veneers are thinner and require removal of less tooth surface before placement. You will need to discuss the best option for you with your dentist.
Getting dental veneers usually requires three trips to your dentist.
- The first appointment is all about diagnosis and planning treatment. During this appointment, you should explain to your dentist what results you’re looking for. Your dentist will then examine your teeth to be sure that veneers are appropriate for you. You’ll talk about the procedure, and X-rays and impressions may be taken.
- Your next appointment will be all about preparation. To prepare your tooth for a veneer, your dentist will remove approximately ½ millimeter of enamel, which is just about equal to the thickness of the veneer. Depending on what you decide with your dentist, local anesthetic may be used. If your dentist didn’t make a model or impression of your tooth at the first appointment, he will now. The model is then sent to a dental laboratory where your veneer(s) will be made. It usually takes about 1-2 weeks for your dentist to receive the veneers back.
- The third and final appointment is when the dental veneer is permanently cemented to your tooth. Your dentist will clean, polish and etch your teeth before fitting the veneers properly on your teeth. A special light is then used to activate chemicals in the cement, causing it to harden or cure very quickly. Any excess cement will be removed and final adjustments will be made. A follow-up appointment may be scheduled in couple of weeks to check how gums are responding to the procedure.
There are many advantages of dental veneers. They provide a natural tooth appearance and are stain resistant. Gum tissue is typically tolerant of porcelain as well. The color can be selected allowing for discolored teeth to appear whiter. In general, dental veneers are a conservative approach to changing a tooth’s color and shape. There are of course disadvantages too. Veneers are not reversible and are more costly than composite resin bonding. They usually can not be repaired if they chip or crack, and (rarely) can even dislodge and fall off. You may experience more tooth sensitivity since enamel has been removed. Individuals clench and grind their teeth are poor candidates for dental veneers as are people with unhealthy teeth or gums.
Dental veneers typically last between 5 and 10 years, after which they would need to be replaced. The cost of veneers depends on what part of the country you live in and the extent of your procedure. Typically, veneers range in cost from $500 to $1300 per tooth, and they usually aren’t covered by insurance. If you’re considering dental veneers to improve the look of your smile, discuss this option with your dentist to find out if they are a good fit for you.