Dental veneers are extremely thin ceramic, composite resin, or porcelain shells used to cover the front of teeth. Discolored but otherwise healthy teeth are great for dental veneers.
The procedure is relatively painless and requires local or no anesthesia. An experienced dentist bonds dental veneers to the patient’s teeth. Veneers are an ideal choice for the patient who wants to improve the appearance of his or her front teeth. Veneers are a fine alternative to dental crowns in some situations. Dental veneers offer a more conservative way to change tooth shape, color, or size. Veneers can be used to:
• Mask stained tooth enamel
• Cover injured teeth (such as chipped or worn enamel), or
• Brighten discolored teeth after an endodontic procedure, such as root canal
• Fill in gaps between teeth in some cases
Dental veneers give the appearance of pristine enamel. With proper at-home dental hygiene and regular dental checkups, today’s veneers may last for years.
Dental Veneer Procedure
Not all patients are good candidates for dental veneers. The patient’s teeth must be healthy. If the patient is allowed to proceed, the dentist plans for the procedure in three steps, including: diagnosis, creation of the treatment plan, and dental veneer bonding procedure.
The patient should play an active part in the smile rejuvenation or design process. It’s important for him or her to have realistic expectations, though, because not all desired dental corrections can be achieved with veneers. The dentist will encourage his or her patient to have one or more consultations as part of the process.
The dentist begins the bonding process by buffing the teeth to facilitate the slight but important additional thickness of veneer to enamel. In most instances, about 0.5 millimeter of enamel is removed. The dentist may use local anesthesia to ensure the patient’s comfort. Depending on the treatment area, it’s possible to bond composite resin veneer to the teeth in one or more appointments. After preparing the teeth, the dentist affixes and sculpts the resin to the teeth.
Ceramic veneers take more time:
• First, the dentist prepares a mold of the patient’s teeth in one appointment.
• The mold is then sent to the dental laboratory to fabricate the patient’s veneers. The dental laboratory may return the finished veneers in days or weeks.
• In some cases, the patient may decide to have temporary veneers affixed. For instance, if he or she chipped one or more front teeth and feels self-conscious with others, temporary veneers can be the next best step.
• When the ceramic veneers are received from the lab, the dentist checks each for fit and color. At that time, the dentist is likely to place the veneers against the teeth. If the color is wrong, this is the right time to ask for an adjustment. The dentist will then send the veneers back to the lab to correct the color.
• Before affixing ceramic veneers, the dentist cleans the teeth with special chemicals to facilitate the bonding process. Dental cement attaches the veneer to the tooth, and a light tool cures and hardens it.
Dental Veneer Maintenance
Generally speaking, most patients need to adjust to their new dental veneers, especially if the veneers present a change in teeth size and/or shape. It’s essential to continue to brush and floss the teeth every day. Most patients return for a follow-up consult in one to two weeks.
Naturally, dental veneers are not identical replicas of the patient’s natural teeth. They’re not “perfect.” Like natural enamel, dental veneers may have slight coloration variations.
That said, many patients say that dental veneers are a new reason to smile.