What are Veneers?
Dental veneers can give you the Hollywood smile of your dreams if your teeth have cosmetic defects that make you feel self-conscious. Veneers are tooth-colored, ultra-slim, customized casings that are fixed onto the front of teeth to conceal issues such as chipping or stains.
Generally measuring as little as about half a millimeter in thickness, dental veneers can improve the appearance of teeth that are:
- Slightly misaligned.
Veneers are typically made from porcelain, although some are resin composite. Porcelain veneers – also called dental laminates – are favored because they’re more stain-resistant and look more natural. So, we’ll focus on porcelain laminate veneers here.
Benefits of Porcelain Veneers
External forces from everyday activities like eating are transferred from the veneer onto the strong, rigid structure of the tooth itself, designed by nature and evolution to withstand constant wear and tear. For instance, the outer protective enamel layer of a tooth is the hardest substance in the body.
The solid glass-like properties of porcelain veneers create a surface that can last a very long time. Porcelain veneers resist wear resolutely and are impervious to temperature changes such as the coldest milkshake or hottest cup of coffee.
Besides durability, porcelain veneers offer several other benefits. The way veneers mimic the light-reflecting properties of natural teeth can make dark teeth appear lighter. Furthermore, veneers provide a stronger, more aesthetic alternative to basic tooth bonding.
Porcelain veneers are also:
- Now thinner than ever, which means minimal trimming of tooth enamel.
- Less vulnerable to staining than composite veneers or natural teeth.
- Tolerated well by gum tissue.
Veneers need no special oral hygiene measures, although a mild toothpaste is recommended to avoid damage. Other benefits of veneers include:
- Protecting the tooth surface from damage.
- Correcting teeth gaps or crowding.
- Recontouring teeth by making them appear squarer or longer.
Porcelain veneers generally last for about 15 years. You’re likely to get even more mileage out of them if you maintain a good routine of oral hygiene and see your dentist regularly for check-ups. Bear in mind, though, that veneers, like teeth, can be damaged by an injury to the mouth, or by habits like chomping on pencils or ice, or biting your fingernails.
The Dental Veneer Process
The veneer process can involve a single tooth or several teeth. In most cases, the procedure takes two appointments, one to two weeks apart.
During your first visit after the initial consultation, it will be necessary for your dentist to trim a small amount of enamel from the front of a tooth prior to placing the veneer. This ensures the tooth doesn’t look thicker after treatment.
Your dentist will then determine which shade of porcelain best matches the surrounding teeth. The color can be adjusted later if necessary. An impression will then be taken and sent to a dental lab to make your customized veneer.
Your second appointment is for placing your veneer. The way veneers are fastened onto teeth is an extension of the science of tooth bonding, which is based on the principles of acid etching, a technique that became commonplace in dentistry in the early 1960s.
Dental bonding is possible because tooth enamel contains a high proportion of minerals – more than bone. When an acidic solution is applied to enamel, it etches (dissolves) some of this mineral content, which roughens the tooth surface to create a texture for optimal bonding.
A bonding agent is then applied to the tooth surface, and dental cement is placed inside the veneer. Once the veneer has been positioned properly, your dentist will harden the cement by shining a special blue light on the tooth.
Your dentist will probably want to see you again after a week to see how your gums have responded. If you’ve decided the veneer isn’t quite right for you, your dentist can also tweak its shape.
Can I Get Veneers in a Single Appointment?
Although veneer treatment generally takes two appointments, dentists who’ve invested in cutting-edge equipment can make and fit your veneers the same day, often with the help of the E4D (Evolution 4 Dentistry) comprehensive system of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM).
E4D not only greatly speeds up veneer treatment, it makes for a more comfortable patient experience, doing away with the need for messy impressions involving putty trays or powder – particularly unpleasant if you have a strong gag reflex.
The E4D system works by:
- Creating 3D images of your mouth with a laser scan.
- Producing a virtual model with the help of advanced software.
- Fabricating your high-grade ceramic veneer with an E4D mill.
The Advanced Technology Behind Modern Veneers
Over the past few decades, progress in cosmetic dental technology has produced veneers that are increasingly natural-looking, and digital imaging can help to ensure your veneers blend seamlessly with your natural teeth.
Veneer treatment is one of several state-of-the-art dental procedures that are defining a new era in cosmetic dentistry.
If you find a dentist with expertise in using the latest dental technology – like the E4D system – to fit your veneers, you’ll be walking out of the dental office after just one appointment, all set to show the world your gleaming new smile in full confidence.
Are Veneers Right for Me?
As well as giving you an amazing smile, veneers will also protect your teeth from damage, and they can be combined with other treatments to create comprehensive cosmetic results.
If your teeth are fundamentally healthy but look like they’ve seen better days, veneers may well be the cosmetic option for you. On the other hand, if you tend to grind your teeth, veneers may not be the ideal solution.
Dental veneers are generally more expensive than other cosmetic dental treatments but many patients discover they can give your self-regard a huge boost by enhancing your facial appearance.
A consultation with a dentist experienced in cosmetic treatments will help you to determine whether veneers are right for you.