Dental veneers are a relatively new advance in modern cosmetic dentistry. Before dental veneers, cosmetic dentists used dental crowns to alter the shape and color of a tooth. Dental crowns could be used to re-shape the tooth to fill a space, lengthen a tooth or even correct minor orthodontic issues. The disadvantage of a crown is that much of the tooth’s natural structure is lost to make room for the crown.
The advent of the dental veneer brought several advantages to cosmetic dental patients – the primary one being that veneers can be used cosmetically in much the same way as crowns, but without nearly as much loss of the natural tooth structure.
What are Veneers?
Dental veneers are very thin, custom crafted shells of tooth-colored materials which cover the front surface of teeth.
Dental veneers can be made from porcelain or from resin composite materials. Porcelain veneers resist stains better than resin veneers and look more natural since they reflect light much as the enamel of natural teeth.
Resin veneers have the advantage of being thinner and therefore require even less removal of the tooth surface. It’s recommended that you discuss with your cosmetic dentist the best choice of veneer for you.
Advantages of dental veneers
Dental veneers made of porcelain offer a host of advantages when compared to composite bonding or dental crowns.
While veneers still offer the same ability to change a tooth’s color and shape as dental crowns, veneers are considered a more conservative treatment.
Just as with porcelain dental crowns, the use of porcelain in the fabrication of the veneer makes it naturally stain resistant. Porcelain veneers look extremely natural and when used on an individual tooth, porcelain veneers are color matched with neighboring teeth to give them a blended and natural look.
What dental problems can veneers be used for?
Dental veneers are utilized by dentists to solve a variety of cosmetic issues. These include:
- Shaping of teeth: teeth can be lengthened or shortened to make the smile in proportion to your facial features
- Spaces between teeth: teeth can be widened to fill spaces between teeth
- Teeth staining: certain types of teeth staining, such as staining caused by tetracycline or other medications cannot be corrected through teeth whitening procedures; veneers can cover this type of staining
- Damaged teeth: this category includes chipped or broken teeth
- Crooked teeth: minor orthodontic corrections can be made using dental veneers
Are you a good candidate for dental veneers?
It’s important to consider the long-term effects of any cosmetic dental procedure. For example, the use of dental veneers is not reversible and although they can last a long time, as with any dental restoration, they will eventually need to be replaced.
Be sure to ask your dentist all of your questions about dental veneers and determine if you are a good candidate for dental veneers.
The following are some additional facts about porcelain veneers that may help guide a more detailed discuss with your dentist.
- Color: If you plan on whitening your teeth, do this before getting veneers, then match the whitened shade of your natural teeth to the veneers. Veneers cannot be whitened.
- Suitability: Your dentist will let you know if you’re not a good candidate for veneers. A couple of common reasons for this could include: unhealthy teeth with an inadequate amount of existing enamel on the tooth surface or for people who clench or grind their teeth.
- Durability: Veneers are very durable, but should they chip or crack, they are not repairable.
The dental veneer process
Having porcelain veneers typically requires three appointments at your dental clinic. The first appointment is a consultation to answer your questions and design a treatment plan based on your needs. Two additional appointments will be needed – one to prepare the teeth and the other to apply your new dental veneers.