Dental veneers are thin, custom-made shells made of porcelain or composite resin designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve your appearance. They can be used to fix stained, chipped, decayed or misaligned teeth. These shells are bonded to the front of the teeth changing their color, shape, size or length.
The procedure for dental veneers include:
- Diagnosis and treatment planning. Your dentist will examine your teeth to make sure dental veneers are appropriate for you. X-rays and impressions may be taken of your mouth and teeth. You will explain to your dentist the result that you are trying to achieve.
- Your dentist will remove about ½ millimeter of enamel from the tooth surface, which is an amount nearly equal to the thickness of the veneer to be added to the tooth surface. Before the enamel, the dentist will decide if numbing the area with a local anesthetic is needed. The dentist will then make a model or impression of your tooth. The model is then sent to a dental lab which will construct your veneer.
- Before the veneer is permanently cemented to your tooth, your dentist will examine, repeatedly remove, and trim to achieve the proper fit. Then your tooth will be cleaned, polished and etched, which roughens the tooth to allow for a strong bonding process. A special cement is then applied to the veneer, properly positioned on the tooth, then your dentist will apply a special light beam to the dental veneer which activates chemicals in the cement to harden and cure very quickly. Any excess cement will be removed and your bite will be evaluated and any final adjustments will be made. You may return for a follow up in a few weeks to check how your gums are responding and again examine the veneer’s placement.
Dental veneers offer a conservative approach to changing a tooth’s color and shape; veneers generally don’t require the extensive shaping prior to the procedure that crowns do, yet offer a stronger, more aesthetic alternative.
The veneer process is not reversible and is more costly than resin bonding. Veneers may not exactly match the color of your other teeth and the color cannot be altered once in place. Veneers generally last between 7 and 15 years.
Dental veneers do not require any special care, but do continue following good oral hygiene practices. Even though veneers resist stains, your dentist may recommend you limit or avoid stain causing foods and beverages such as coffee, tea or red wine.