These are thin, tooth-coloured porcelain (ceramic) shells carefully crafted to bond to and cover the front of unsightly teeth. They are a more conservative treatment than a crown and can often be used as an alternative if the underlying tooth is strong and healthy. Veneers are excellent for treating chipped, discoloured, slightly misaligned or misshapen teeth or gaps between the teeth, especially if these defects affect the front teeth. A tooth that is too small or has irregularities can be successfully treated with a veneer. Two or three visits to your dentist will usually be required to prepare the teeth and fit the veneers. Your dentist will discuss your needs with you and plan the treatment that suits you best. Appointments typically depend on the number of teeth to be treated.
To prepare each tooth, your dentist will remove a thin layer, about the thickness of a fingernail, from the surface of the tooth. This allows room for the veneer to be glued into place later. A local anaesthetic may be required during this step. An impression is taken of your teeth and sent to a dental ceramist, who manufactures the veneers to fit your teeth. Cementing of the new veneers occurs at the next appointment and may take a few hours. Your dentist will check on the colour and fit before finally bonding them into place. The teeth are cleaned with a chemical that helps bond the veneer to the tooth. After cement is placed between the veneer and your tooth, a light beam activates the cement to bond the veneer firmly. Colour can be altered by using varying shades of cement, so it is important that you discuss any changes you require before the final cementing is done. Once the veneer is bonded to the teeth, it is trimmed and polished.
The Care Of Veneers
Caring for your veneers will ensure that they last longer. Regular checks with the dentist who fitted them, or one who is experienced in the care of veneers, is recommended. During your visit, the veneers will be polished, and any irregularities will be trimmed. Please talk to your dentist if you have noticed any problem during brushing or flossing.
Excessive chewing or biting, especially on foods like hard lollies, ice or bones may break the porcelain. Holding other hard objects in your teeth such as nails, pens or bottle tops may damage the veneers.
If they are struck by sharp objects, porcelain veneers can fracture, just like normal teeth. Wearing a mouthguard during sport is strongly recommended.
Good dental hygiene is important to extend the life of the veneers. Regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste and flossing after meals will help to prevent decay.
Advantages of Veneers
- Application is relatively painless.
- If the tooth underneath is strong enough, veneers can be a simpler and cheaper alternative to crowns.
- Veneers are resistant to stain due to age, tea, coffee or smoking.
- The porcelain and the cement used in the cementing process are strong, making veneers comparable in strength to normal teeth.
- When applied professionally and cared for regularly, veneers can last for many years.
- Porcelain will not decay.
Disadvantage of Veneers
- A veneer cannot be repaired if it is damaged or if the gum shrinks away from the top edge.
- A thin layer of tooth must be removed during preparation.
Other Consideration With Veneers
After your dentist prepares your teeth and you are waiting for the fitting of the veneer, the teeth will feel rough and strange due to their exposed, buffed surfaces. At this time, teeth may be more sensitive to air or touch and to hot or cold foods. They are also more likely to stain. Attention to hygiene is important during this time. The exposed teeth can be covered with a temporary veneer if you wish, although this is not usually necessary and will increase the cost of the procedure.
Veneers are not a replacement for corrective dental procedures in people with overcrowded or badly misaligned teeth, or upper and lower teeth that do not meet evenly. As healthy gums are essential to the success of veneers, daily attention to oral hygiene is important.
Direct Laminate Veneers
Gaps between teeth and poorly shaped teeth can be effectively treated with direct laminate veneers.
Direct laminate veneers are a conservative alternative to porcelain veneers. They can be used in a wide variety of cases. First, the tooth’s front surface is etched, and an adhesive coating is applied. Similar to bonding, layers of putty – like bonded ceramic material are applied to recreate the natural colour of the tooth’s entire front surface. An intense light is applied intermittently throughout the layering process to cure and harden the ceramic material. The cured material is then contoured and polished to create a natural looking tooth.
Advantages of direct laminate veneers
- They seldom require any removal of tooth structure.
- They do not require impressions or laboratory manufacturing, and are usually less expensive than porcelain veneers.
- They can sometimes be removed without damage being done to a tooth. This can enable further treatment options if the person’s expectations are not met.
- They can be repaired.
- As long as a dentist looks after their care, direct laminate veneers may last for many years.
Disadvantages of direct laminate veneers
- They are not as strong as porcelain veneers and may chip or break if the bite is incorrect.
- They required more maintenance than porcelain veneers.