Dental veneers are thin shells of material that cover the surface of teeth to improve appearance. Custom designed to match color, veneers can also lengthen, reshape and change the size of teeth. The shells are made of either resin or porcelain compounds that are highly resistant to stains. Resin require less of the natural tooth surface to be removed before bonding while porcelain veneers reflect light and are a more natural-looking solution. Only a dentist can decide which type is better for a patient’s needs.
What Veneers Do
Veneers can correct a variety of dental problems:
• Discoloration. Teeth can lose their natural color due to high-level fluoride exposure, large resin fillings or if a person takes tetracycline for an extended period of time.
• Broken or chipped teeth. This can occur due to injury, bad habits or eating certain foods.
• Worn teeth. Teeth become worn through age or habitual grinding.
• Misaligned or badly shaped teeth. These conditions usually occur naturally.
• Gapped teeth. Veneers will fill large spaces between teeth.
In most cases, this procedure requires three appointments. The first visit is a consultation where the patient will discuss goals with the dentist, and a plan is created. The veneers will be made after the second visit, and bonded to the teeth during the third. The process can involve a single tooth or many teeth at the same time.
• During the first step, the patient will undergo X-rays, and the dentist will determine if the patient’s natural teeth are suitable for the procedure.
• In the preparation phase, the dentist removes one-half millimeter of tooth enamel. This is done so the tooth will be the same thickness after the veneer is added. The dentist will then make an impression of the tooth or teeth and send it to a lab where the veneer will be constructed. It can take up to 14 days for veneers to be made.
• The bonding phase is the final step for veneers. The dentist will first place the veneer on the tooth to judge its fit and make the necessary adjustments. The correct color of cement will be chosen to make the veneer match the natural teeth as closely as possible. Next, the tooth will be throughly cleaned and etched to allow for a good bond. The veneer is then carefully glued to the tooth, and a special light is applied to make the cement harden quickly. The dentist will evaluate the bite and remove any extra cement. The patient is usually asked to return in 14 days for an evaluation of the veneer.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Along with being stain resistant, veneers provide a natural appearance and are well tolerated by the gums. They make darkened teeth look whiter and are a stronger, more economical solution than crowns, which also require a great deal of shaping. The main disadvantage of veneers is the procedure cannot be reversed. Veneers can also result in greater tooth sensitivity and may even fall off in some circumstances. Those who have gum disease, tooth decay, large fillings or poor oral habits, such as grinding, that weaken the teeth are not good candidates for receiving veneers because this can cause chipping and cracking.
Veneers will usually last anywhere from five to 10 years. After this point, they will require replacement to protect the natural teeth underneath them and to present the best possible appearance. Having veneers does not require a person to perform any special care activities. Regular, thorough brushing, flossing and use of a quality antiseptic mouthwash is all that is required for maintenance. While veneers do resist stains, the dentist may advise patients to avoid red wine, tea and coffee as these beverages can still cause some discoloration.
The cost of veneers varies depending on how extensive the procedure is. Please contact us for a consultation. As veneers are considered to be a cosmetic procedure, the cost is usually not covered by insurance. Patients will need to check with their dental insurance carrier to see what is and is not covered in regard to veneers.
Dental veneers are an excellent choice for those who want to change the appearance of their teeth without resorting to a crown or going through the bonding process.