These custom shells, typically made of porcelain (sometimes plastic), cover the front sides of the teeth to change their color and/or shape. Veneers last longer than bonding and provide a superior appearance. They are less expensive than crowns. Veneers can improve teeth that:
- Have spaces between them
- Have become chipped or worn
- Are permanently stained
- Are poorly shaped
- Are slightly crooked
Before inserting veneers, the dentist first takes an impression of your tooth, then buffs the tooth before cementing the veneer in place. A beam of light helps harden the cement, which secures the veneer to your tooth.
Porcelain veneers are made in a laboratory, so you need a second visit to the dentist to have them inserted.
Sometimes called caps, crowns completely cover a tooth, restoring a normal shape and appearance. You may need a crown to:
- Cover a misshapen or discolored tooth
- Protect a weak tooth
- Restore a broken or worn tooth
- Cover a tooth with a large filling
- Hold a dental bridge in place
- Cover a dental implant
- Cover a tooth that's had a root canal procedure
Crowns can be made from metal, porcelain fused to metal, resin, or ceramic materials. Because crowns are costly, dentists usually suggest them only when other procedures can't produce a pleasing result.
Sometimes, a dentist can make an in-office same-day crown, or a temporary crown. Some offices can mill a crown in the same day. The dentist prepares the tooth for the crown, makes molds of the tooth or takes a digital impression, provides you with a temporary crown if sending it to a lab, and then places the permanent crown at a separate time.
Permanent crowns can have a long life if you take good care of them.
Enamel Shaping and Contouring
Enamel shaping and contouring involves removing or contouring dental enamel to improve the appearance of your teeth. Dentists may combine this process with bonding.
Often used to alter the length, shape, or position of teeth, reshaping and contouring can correct:
- Crooked or overlapping teeth
- Chipped and irregular teeth
- Minor bite problems
You may be a good candidate for reshaping and contouring if you have normal, healthy teeth, and there's still adequate bone between your teeth to support them.