What are Dental Veneers?
Dental veneers (sometimes called porcelain veneers or dental porcelain laminates) are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve your appearance. These shells are bonded to the front of the teeth changing their color, shape, size, or length.
Types of Dental Veneers
Dental veneers can be made from porcelain or from resin composite materials. Porcelain veneers resist stains better than resin veneers. They also better mimic the light-reflecting properties of natural teeth. You will need to discuss the best choice of veneer material for you with your dentist.
What Types of Problems Do Dental Veneers Fix?
Veneers are routinely used to fix:
- Teeth that are discolored because of:
- root canal treatment
- stains from tetracycline or other drugs
- excessive fluoride
- large resin fillings
- other causes
- Teeth that are worn down
- Teeth that are chipped or broken
- Teeth that are misaligned, uneven, or irregularly shaped (for example, have craters or bulges in them)
- Teeth with gaps between them (to close the space between these teeth)
Dental Veneer Procedure
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 undergo the veneering process at the same time.
Diagnosis and treatment planning
You will tell 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 right for you and discuss the procedure and some of its limits. They may take X-rays and possibly make impressions of your mouth and teeth.
To prepare a tooth for a veneer, your dentist will reshape the tooth surface, which is an amount nearly equal to the thickness of the veneer to be added to the tooth surface. You and your dentist will decide whether they numb the area before trimming off the enamel. Next, your dentist will make a model, or impression, of your tooth. This model is sent out to a dental laboratory, which makes your veneer. It usually takes 2-4 weeks for the veneers to come back from the laboratory. Temporary dental veneers can be used in the meantime.
Your dentist will place the veneer on your tooth to examine its fit and color, repeatedly removing and trimming the veneer to achieve the proper fit, before permanently cementing it to your tooth. The veneer color can be adjusted with the shade of cement to be used. Next, to prepare your tooth to receive the veneer, your tooth will be cleaned, polished, and etched. Etching roughens the tooth to allow for a strong bonding process. A special cement is applied to the veneer and it is then placed on your tooth. Once the veneer is properly positioned, your dentist will shine a special light beam on it to activate chemicals in the cement, causing it to harden very quickly. The final steps involve removing any excess cement, checking your bite and making any needed adjustments. Your dentist may ask you to return for a follow-up visit in a couple of weeks to check your gums and the veneer's placement.
Dental Veneer Benefits
Veneers offer these advantages:
- They provide a natural tooth appearance.
- Gums tolerates porcelain well.
- Porcelain veneers are stain resistant.
- A color can be selected to make dark teeth appear whiter.
- They generally don't require as much shaping as crowns do, yet they are stronger and look better.
Dental Veneer Risks
Downsides to dental veneers include:
- The process cannot be undone.
- Veneers cost more than composite resin bonding.
- Veneers usually cannot be repaired if they chip or crack.
- Because enamel has been removed, your tooth may become more sensitive to hot and cold foods and drinks.
- Veneers may not exactly match the color of your other teeth. Also, the veneer's color cannot be altered once it’s in place. If you plan on whitening your teeth, you need to do so before getting veneers.
- Though not likely, veneers can dislodge and fall off. To minimize the chance of this occurring, do not bite your nails, chew on pencils, ice or other hard objects, or otherwise put too much pressure on your teeth.
- Teeth with veneers can still experience decay, possibly necessitating full coverage of the tooth with a crown.
- Veneers are not a good choice for people with unhealthy teeth (for example, those with decay or active gum disease), weakened teeth (as a result of decay, fracture, large dental fillings), or for those who don't have enough existing enamel on the tooth surface.
- People who clench and grind their teeth are poor candidates for porcelain veneers, as this can cause the veneers to crack or chip.
Dental Veneer Lifespan
Veneers generally last between 7 and 15 years. After this time, the veneers would need to be replaced.
Dental Veneer Aftercare
Dental veneers do not require any special care. Continue to follow good oral hygiene practices, including brushing, flossing, and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash as you normally would.
Even though porcelain veneers resist stains, your dentist may recommend that you avoid stain-causing foods and beverages (for example, coffee, tea, or red wine).
Dental Veneer Cost
What your veneers will cost may depend on what part of the country you live in and how much work you want done. Generally, the price is between $1,000 to $2,000 per tooth. The cost usually is not covered by insurance. To be sure, check with your dental insurance company.
Dental Veneer Alternatives
Alternatives to veneers include bondings and crowns. Veneers are a nice in-between option. Veneers may be your best choice if you want to change the shape of your teeth more than just a little bit, as is done with bonding, but not enough to require a crown.