Veneers are a quick way to a beautiful smile, and this treatment is perfect for people with teeth that are stained, chipped or have gaps. But veneers are largely a permanent treatment, and having them placed is a big decision. Before you and your dentist decide the procedure is right for you, it's important to have the right information about veneers, their cost and how best to care for them.
WHAT ARE VENEERS?
A veneer is a wafer-thin, custom-made shell of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve your appearance while also providing strength and resilience comparable to natural tooth enamel. They are customized to the shape of your teeth and are bonded to the tooth's original enamel during in-office procedures. Dental veneers can be made from porcelain or from resin composite materials. Below, we’ll take a closer look at the difference between those two.
WHY ARE VENEERS USED IN DENTISTRY?
Veneers are a less intrusive option than crowns or braces. Veneers can be used to close gaps or correct small misalignments. Patients also choose veneers as a cosmetic solution to enhance the brightness of their teeth and to straighten their smile, correcting issues like discoloration, fractures, or chips.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR PLACING VENEERS?
Getting a dental veneer usually requires one to three trips to the dentist – one for a consultation and two to make and apply the veneers. One tooth or many teeth can simultaneously undergo the veneering process described below.
Diagnosis and treatment planning:
This first step involves your active participation. Explain to your dentist the result you are trying to achieve. During this appointment, your dentist will examine your teeth to make sure dental veneers are appropriate for you and discuss what the procedure will involve and some of its limitations. They also may take X-rays, and possibly make impressions of your mouth and teeth.
To prepare a tooth for a veneer, your dentist will remove about half a 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 trimming off the enamel, you and your dentist will decide the need for a local anesthetic to numb the area. Next, your dentist will make a model or impression of your tooth. This model is sent out to a dental laboratory, which in turn constructs your veneer. It usually takes 2-4 weeks for your dentist to receive the veneers back from the laboratory. This is only done for porcelain veneers, as composite can potentially be done in one visit. For very unsightly teeth, temporary dental veneers can be placed.
Bonding:Before the dental veneer is permanently cemented to your tooth, your dentist will temporarily place it on your tooth to examine its fit and color. They will repeatedly remove and trim the veneer as needed to achieve the proper fit; the veneer color can be adjusted with the shade of cement to be used. Next, to prepare your tooth to receive the veneer, your tooth will be cleaned, polished, and etched -- which roughens the tooth to allow for a strong bonding process. A special cement is applied to the veneer and the veneer is then placed on your tooth. Once properly position on the tooth, your dentist will apply a special light beam to the dental veneer, which activates chemicals in the cement, causing it to harden very quickly. The final steps involve removing any excess cement, evaluating your bite and making any final adjustments in the veneer as necessary. Your dentist may ask you to return for a follow-up visit in a couple of weeks to check how your gums are responding to the presence of your veneer and to once again examine the veneer's placement.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PORCELAIN AND COMPOSITE VENEERS?
The most commonly used material for veneers are the conventional porcelain veneer and composite resin veneers. Porcelain veneers are preferable for correcting issues of shape or color and can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years. They can cost anywhere from $800 to $2,000 per tooth, which can be a major expense for most consumers, so it's important to know they will need to be replaced eventually. Composite Veneer on average, are around half the price of porcelain veneers. Composites can typically be fabricated while you wait, making it a same-day treatment. They are actually shaped and sculpted on your teeth rather than in an offsite lab. Composite veneers also have the factor of reversibility. Porcelain requires reshaping of your natural teeth in order to fit the veneer. When it comes to composites, minimal prep work is required on your natural teeth, meaning that they are not permanently altered to such an extent that the composite material cannot be removed and replaced as needed.
CARE FOR VENEERS
You should brush and floss just as you would your regular teeth. Proper daily brushing, and use of non-abrasive fluoride toothpaste. Consider limiting coffee and other stain-inducing foods. Keep in mind that veneers will need to be replaced at some point, no matter how well you take care of them. But proper oral hygiene will help them last as long as possible. If you're deciding on veneers, consult with your dentist and be sure you understand every part of the process and cost. A beautiful smile feels great and can increase both your confidence and well-being.