One of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures is the application of dental veneers. Sometimes referred to as porcelain veneers, these wafer-thin, custom-made shells cover the front surface of teeth to improve the appearance. They’re bonded to the front of the teeth and can change color, shape, size, or length. They are made from porcelain or resin composite materials, both of which have pros and cons. Individuals who are most interested in veneers usually are hoping to correct the following issues:
- Wear and tear
- Chips or breaks
- Misaligned, uneven, or irregularly shaped teeth
- Gaps between teeth
The procedure for getting dental veneers is pretty straight forward but typically requires three visits to the dentist, one for consultation and two to make and apply them. At your consultation, your dentist will examine your teeth and make sure that dental veneers are appropriate for achieving your goals. In addition to discussing the procedure with you, your dentist may also take X-rays and/or impressions of your mouth and teeth. At the next appointment, approximately ½ millimeter of ename will be removed from the tooth surface. A model or impression of your tooth will then be made to be sent out to a dental laboratory where they will construct your one-of-kind veneers. This process usually takes 1-2 weeks. Your final appointment will involve the permanent cementing of the veneers to your teeth. To insure proper fit and color, your dentist will repeatedly remove and trim the veneer. Your tooth will be cleaned, polished, and etched, before a special cement is applied to the veneer and placed on your tooth. Once properly positioned, a special light will be used to activate chemicals in the cement, causing them to harden very quickly. The final step involves removing any excess cement and evaluating your bite and making any final adjustments. Your dentist may ask you to come back for a follow-up visit in a couple of weeks to check on your gums and re-examine the placement.
Just like any procedure, dental veneers have both advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, veneers provide a natural tooth appearance and are stain resistant. Gum tissue tolerates porcelain well, and the color can be selected such that it makes dark teeth appear whiter. They are a stronger, more aesthetic alternative to crowns for correcting color and shape of unsightly teeth. On the other hand, the process is not reversible, and are more costly than composite resin bonding. In the event that your veneer is chipped or cracked, they are usually not repairable. Because enamel has been removed, your teeth may become more sensitive to hot and cold foods and beverages. Veneers may not exactly match the color of your other teeth, and the chosen color can not be altered once in place. Teeth with veneers can still suffer from decay, possibly requiring full coverage of the tooth with a crown at some point. Veneers are not a good choice for people with unhealthy teeth or for those who have an inadequate amount of existing enamel on the tooth surface. People who clench or grind their teeth are typically poor candidates for veneers, as this behavior can cause the veneers to crack or chip.
Veneers generally last between 5 and 10 years, at which time they would need to be replaced. They do not require special care, however you will need to continue to follow a good oral hygiene practice, including regular brushing and flossing. Dental veneers are a great way to repair an undesirable aesthetic appearance, and is a fairly simple procedure. Discuss this option with your cosmetic dentist if you’re interested in achieving the bright, white smile of your dreams.