Porcelain veneers and dental porcelain laminates, which are sometimes called dental veneers, are very thin coverings that are bonded to teeth to improve the appearance, by changing the length, size and shape of teeth and by improving the colour.
The two main types of dental veneers are made from resin composites or from porcelain. Your dentist will advise you on which one will be the best type for you. Veneers made of porcelain are more stain resistant and they mimic the natural reflection of the light better. Veneers made of resin do not need as much of the surface of the tooth removed before fitting and they are not as thick as porcelain veneers.
WHAT TYPES OF PROBLEMS DO DENTAL VENEERS FIX?
Dental veneers are utilised to correct the following common dental problems:
- Tooth Discolouration
- Broken and chipped teeth
- Worn teeth
- Gaps between teeth
- Irregularly shaped or uneven teeth
WHAT’S THE PROCEDURE FOR GETTING A DENTAL VENEER?
When you have dental veneers applied to your teeth, you will probably need to make three separate visits to your dentist. The first will be for the initial consultation and, on the second and third visits, the veneers will be applied. A veneer can be applied to a single tooth or it may be applied to many teeth at the same time.
On the first consultation visit, you will be asked what it is you are hoping to achieve with a veneer. Your dentist will carry out an examination of your teeth, assess their suitability for a veneer, explain the procedure to you and discuss the options that are available. Your dentist may also take impressions of your teeth and take x-rays at this stage.
Preparing teeth for a veneer
To prepare your teeth for a veneer, approximately ½ a millimetre of the surface enamel of the tooth will be removed. Your dentist will discuss with you whether or not you will need a local anaesthetic for this procedure. Your dentist will then take an impression of your teeth, which will be sent to a dental laboratory where the veneers will be constructed. This will usually take about a fortnight.
Bonding the veneer to the teeth
When you visit your dentist to have the veneer fitted, they will first place the veneer with a temporary fixing so that it can be trimmed, if required, and the colour adjusted, if needed, by using different shades of dental cement. Your teeth will then be cleaned and etched to create a good surface on which the veneer can bond. Special dental cement will then be applied to your teeth, the dentist will position the veneer, and then a special beam of light will be used, which causes the cement to cure. Finally, any excess cement will be removed and any final adjustments that might be needed will be made. A follow up appointment will usually be made to check on your progress with the veneers about a week or two later.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF DENTAL VENEERS?
Dental veneers provide the following main advantages:
- Veneers made of porcelain are very stain resistant
- They don’t irritate the gums
- They look natural
- They whiten dark looking or stained teeth
- Less tooth shaping is required than is with crowns
- They are strong and aesthetically pleasing
WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF DENTAL VENEERS?
Some of the possible disadvantages of dental veneers are:
- Dental veneers are more expensive than resin bonding
- The dental veneer process is irreversible
- It is difficult to repair broken or chipped veneers
- Teeth may become more sensitive
- The colour of a veneer cannot be altered after fitting
- Very occasionally, veneers can be dislodged by things like biting your nails or putting excessive pressure on them.
- Veneered teeth can still decay
- Dental veneers are not suitable for those with unhealthy teeth or gums
HOW LONG DO THEY LAST?
Generally, dental veneers will need replacing after between five and ten years.
DO DENTAL VENEERS REQUIRE SPECIAL CARE?
Dental veneers can be cared for in exactly the same way that you would care for natural teeth. There are no special requirements.
WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?
The main alternatives to dental veneers are crowns and bonding. Veneers are a good option for people who want to change the shape of their teeth more than bonding would provide but not so much that a crown would be needed.