A veneer is a thin, semi-translucent laminate (veneer) made of porcelain that is permanently bonded to the front of the tooth. Veneers are an aesthetic alternative to treat a variety of dental conditions including:
- Crooked teeth
- Spaces between teeth
- Teeth worn from grinding
- Broken or chipped teeth
- Stained or washed-out fillings
- Spot discoloration that can’t be corrected with bleaching
- Whitening teeth when bleaching just isn’t enough
Advantages and Benefits of Veneers
There are many benefits and advantages with porcelain veneers:
- Can take years off your appearance without any invasive surgery
- Actual treatment usually involves only two visits
- Only a conservative amount of tooth structure is removed during the procedure
- Veneers are the most biocompatible material you can use next to the gingiva (gums)
- A healthy “natural” look is achieved; in fact, porcelain veneers are the most aesthetic restoration in dentistry
How are Veneers different from Bonding?
Bonding was a popular term used for several years to describe the use of tooth colored filling material to make cosmetic changes to the front teeth. With the great advances in porcelain veneer materials, bonding is not nearly as popular today. However, it can still be used as a more economical alternative to porcelain veneers. The disadvantage to bonding is that the resin material does not have the same luster as porcelain and it can stain and discolor over time whereas porcelain does not. Today, we use bonding primarily to fill in small surfaces or cavities and to repair chips in teeth.
How are Veneers different from Crowns?
A full crown is needed when a tooth has had root canal treatment or when a substantial amount of the entire tooth structure has been lost to decay or trauma. In these cases, the tooth needs to be completely covered by the restoration and the restoration serves to fortify and preserve the tooth. So, with a crown, the entire tooth is involved, whereas with a porcelain veneer, only the front of the tooth is involved. While a porcelain crown can be a beautiful restoration, the primary purpose for placing a crown is rarely cosmetics.
How are Porcelain Veneers done?
At the first appointment, the teeth are conservatively prepared for the veneers and an impression is taken. This impression is then sent to a lab where each porcelain veneer is custom made to the dentist’s specifications. The lab process takes approximately 2-3 weeks. In the meantime, temporary veneers may or may not be placed on your teeth. If very little tooth structure was removed to prepare your teeth for the veneers, temporaries might not be used. The gums are generally much healthier at the veneer delivery appointment if no temporaries are placed. However, temporaries will be placed if it is cosmetically necessary.
What to Expect
Veneers can last indefinitely, depending on how well you care for them. And, because they are made of porcelain, veneers are resistant to staining and discoloration and, once applied to the teeth, they are very strong. To ensure that your veneers keep their natural, beautiful look, you must maintain regular oral hygiene at home and visit us for routine cleanings and exams. Another important point is that oral habits that can damage natural teeth such as nail biting, opening bobby pins, and chewing on hard objects can also damage your new veneers. So, once your veneers are applied, just care for them like your natural teeth and you will get many years of benefit from a beautiful smile.