Dental veneers are thin, tooth-colored shells, made of tooth-colored materials. They are attached to the front surface of the teeth to improve their appearance. Usually, they are made of porcelain or resin-composite materials and they are bonded to your teeth permanently.
Veneers are used for treating several different cosmetic concerns, which include chipped, discolored, broken or smaller teeth.
Although some people get one veneer in the case of a broken or chipped tooth, many people also get around six to eight veneers. This helps to create an even symmetrical smile. The top eight teeth at the front are the ones where veneers are most commonly applied.
Veneers are used for fixing multiple problems. These can include:
- Teeth that are discolored due to root canal treatment, excessive fluoride or other causes
- Teeth that are worn down
- Teeth that are broken or chipped
- Misaligned, uneven or irregularly shaped teeth
- Teeth with gaps between them
Veneers usually last more than a decade, depending on the type of veneer that you choose.
Commonly dental veneers are made out of porcelain. If you are applying traditional dental veneers, it can require more intensive prep work as compared to alternatives that are termed as “no-prep veneers.” These no-prep veneers include options such as Lumineers and Vivaneeres, and they take lesser time and are also less invasive while applying.
Applying traditional dental veneers can involve grinding down the tooth structure. Sometimes, it even involves removing some of the teeth even past the enamel. This can allow for proper placement. However, it is important to note that it is also an irreversible procedure. It can be painful to go through and may require a local anesthetic.
On the other hand, no-prep veneers can require some tooth preparation or alteration, though such alterations are minimal. Layers of the tooth under the enamel are not removed. Instead, no-prep veneers affect only the enamel. No-prep veneers usually don’t require any anesthetics.
It is important to note that veneers aren’t the same as tooth implants or crowns. Implants replace an entire tooth. Crowns encase the entire tooth as well, while veneers only cover the front surface of the tooth.
Before getting your veneers, you will need a preliminary appointment with your dentist. You will need to discuss which option is most suitable for you and how many veneers you will want to have placed. Sometimes, if the teeth are crooked or uneven, you might need to have braces before your dentist is able to place the veneers.
Your dentist might often take X-rays at this stage for evaluating the health of your teeth. They will also look for signs of tooth decay, gum disease or any need for root canals. You might not be a candidate for veneers if you have any of these conditions.
To get accurate sizing for the veneers, you will need another appointment, where your dentist will trim down about half a millimeter of your tooth. Then they will take a mold or impression of your teeth. This mold is then sent off to the lab so that your veneers may be created.
Around one or two weeks after your dentist creates your mold, you should receive your veneers back from the lab. Then you must schedule another appointment to have them placed.
At the appointment, your dentist will be evaluating the fit, shape and coloration of the veneers, to ensure that they fit you perfectly.
Your dentist will then thoroughly clean your teeth. This will keep bacteria from being trapped under the veneer. After this part is done, the dentist will use the grinding tool to create a rougher texture on each tooth on which veneers are going to be applied. This can also make it easier for the veneer to stick to the tooth.
Next, your dentist will use dental cement for bonding the veneer to the tooth. To harden the cement quickly, he/she will be using ultraviolet light.
This procedure generally should not take more than two hours. If a local anesthetic is used, it might take a bit longer.
Unlike other dental procedures, the recovery process for this procedure won’t take much time. Once the veneers are cemented on and the anesthetics wear off, you can start eating and chewing as you normally would. While the anesthetic is wearing off, you need to be conscious of not chewing on your cheeks and tongue.
Sometimes, after the veneers are applied, you might be noticing that they feel a little rough. These rough spots wear down after a few days or normal eating and brushing your teeth. However, if they don’t, your dentist will be able to smooth them out.
Traditional porcelain veneers usually last around 10 to 15 years, while no-prep veneers can last around 5 to 7 years. If you want to ensure that you want to get the longest lifespan out of them, then follow a few precautions such as not chewing on hard objects like ice, pens. Don’t use your teeth for opening any packaging. Also, remember to wear a mouth guard if you are playing sports.
There are few risks to veneers, which include:
- There is no way to undo the procedure.
- Generally, they cannot be repaired if they chip or crack.
- If the enamel is removed, your tooth/teeth may become more sensitive to hot and cold food and drink.
- Sometimes, it is possible that your veneers don’t match the exact color of your other teeth. The veneer’s color also cannot be altered, once it has been put in place. If you are planning on whitening your teeth, you will need to do so before the veneers are placed.
- Although rare, sometimes veneers do dislodge and fall off. To minimize the chance of this occurring, remember not to bite your nails, chew on pens or pencils, ice, or any such hard objects. Basically, avoid putting much pressure on your teeth.
- Teeth with veneers can also experience decay. This might require full coverage of the tooth with a crown.