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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.
Dental veneers can be made from porcelain or from resin composite materials. Porcelain veneers resist stains better than resin veneers and better mimic the light reflecting properties of natural teeth. Resin veneers are thinner and require removal of less of the tooth surface before placement. You will need to discuss the best choice of veneer material for you with your dentist.
Why a Porcelain Veneer?
Porcelain veneers are an excellent alternative to crowns in many situations. They provide a much more conservative approach to changing a tooth's color, size, or shape. Porcelain veneers can mask undesirable defects, such as teeth stained by tetracycline, by an injury, or as a result of a root-canal procedure, and are ideal for masking discolored fillings in front teeth. Patients with gaps between their front teeth or teeth that are chipped or worn may consider porcelain veneers. Generally, veneers will last for many years, and the technique has shown remarkable longevity when properly performed.
What Types of Problems Do Dental Veneers Fix?
Veneers are routinely used to fix:
Teeth that are discolored – either because of root canal treatment; stains from tetracycline or other drugs, excessive fluoride or other causes; or the presence of large resin fillings that have discolored the tooth
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)
Who is a Candidate for Dental Veneers?
Veneers, porcelain or plastic, are placed over the front teeth to change color shape of the teeth. Veneers are ideal for teeth that are too small, too big, or have uneven surfaces. It is very common for people to have imperfect teeth, either oddly shaped teeth, chipped teeth, crooked teeth, teeth with small holes in them, or an inappropriate sized tooth or teeth that have an odd appearance. Veneers solve such irregularities and create a durable and pleasing smile.
What happens during the procedure?
Patients need three appointments for the entire procedure: diagnosis and treatment planning, preparation, and bonding.
Preparation of teeth: This appointment will take from one to two hours. To prepare the teeth for the porcelain veneers, the teeth are lightly buffed to allow for the small added thickness of the veneer. Usually, about a half a millimeter of the tooth is removed, which may require a local anesthetic. At this appointment, a mold is taken of the teeth, which is sent to the laboratory for the fabrication of the veneers.
Bonding of veneers: This appointment will take about one or two hours. First, the dentist places the veneers with water or glycerine on the teeth to check their fit and get a sense of the shade or color. While the veneers are resting on your teeth, view the esthetic results, and pay particular attention to the color. At this point, the color of the veneers can still be adjusted with the shade of the cement to be used. The color cannot be altered after veneers are cemented. To apply the veneer, the tooth is cleansed with specific chemicals to achieve a bond. Once a special cement is sandwiched between the veneer and tooth, a visible light beam initiates the release of a catalyst to harden the cement.