Have you ever wanted a Hollywood-like smile? Have you ever wanted teeth that are nearly perfect in shape, color, and dimension? If the answer is yes, then veneers may be what you are looking for. Dental veneers, sometimes called porcelain laminate veneers, are thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials, designed to cover the front and side surfaces of teeth to improve your appearance. These shells are bonded to the front of the teeth, changing their color, shape, size, and length.
Dental veneers can be made from porcelain or from composite resin materials. Porcelain veneers are more stain-resistant than resin veneers and better mimic the light reflecting properties of natural teeth. You will need to discuss your best choice of veneer material with your dentist.
What types of problems do dental veneers fix?
Veneers are routinely used to fix:
- Teeth that are discolored – either because of root canal treatment; stains from tetracycline or other drugs; excessive fluoride or other causes; or the presence of large resin fillings that have discolored the teeth.
- Teeth that are worn down.
- Teeth that are chipped or broken.
- Teeth that are misaligned, uneven, or irregularly shaped.
- Teeth with gaps between them.
What’s the procedure for getting a dental veneer?
Getting a dental veneer usually requires three trips to the dentist – one for a consultation and two to make and apply the veneers. One tooth or many teeth can simultaneously undergo the veneering process described below.
Diagnosis and treatment planning. This first stop involves active participation between you and your dentist. Explain to your dentist the result that you are trying to achieve. During this appointment your dentist will examine your teeth to make sure dental veneers are appropriate for you and discuss what the procedure will involve and some of its limitations. Your dentist also may take X-rays and possibly make impressions of your mouth and teeth. Most of the time it is recommended to whiten teeth before veneering them so that they all have a more uniform color.
Preparation. To prepare a tooth for a veneer, your dentist will remove about ½ millimeter of enamel from the tooth surface, which is an amount nearly equal to the thickness of the veneer to be added to the tooth surface. Next, your dentist will make a model or impression of your tooth. This model is sent out to a dental laboratory that constructs your veneer. A temporary composite resin veneer is placed on your tooth while the lab makes your permanent veneer.
Bonding. Before the dental veneer is permanently cemented to your tooth, your dentist will temporarily place it on your tooth to examine its fit and color. Your dentist will repeatedly remove and trim the veneer as needed to achieve the proper fit; the veneer color can be adjusted with the shade of cement to be used. Next, your tooth will be cleaned, polished, and etched, which roughens the tooth to allow for a strong bonding process. A special cement is applied to the veneer and the veneer is then placed on your tooth. Once properly positioned, your dentist will apply a special light beam to the dental veneer, causing the cement to harden, or cure, very quickly. The final steps involve removing any excess cement, evaluating your bite and making any final adjustments to the veneer. Your dentist may ask you to return for a follow-up visit in a couple of weeks to check how your gums are responding to the presence of your veneer and to once again examine the veneer’s placement.
It’s amazing to see the impact veneers have on improving the facial appearance of patients. They smile more to show off their beautiful teeth and often become much more confident in themselves. If you are considering investing in improving your appearance, teeth whitening and veneers must be considered to achiever your maximum esthetic potential.