WHAT IS A VENEER?

Veneers are ultra-thin shells of ceramic or resin material that are bonded mainly to the front surface of the teeth, similar to the way artificial fingernails are bonded to natural finger nails. The only requirement is that the teeth be structurally sound.

Veneers are applied to correct cosmetic defects on teeth or to adjust the bite (the direction the teeth come together). Cosmetic imperfections that can be corrected with veneers include teeth that are slightly crooked or stained. There may be gaps between teeth or chipped or they may be uneven. In the past, the only way to correct these or other imperfections was to cover the tooth with a crown.

The advantage of veneers over crowns is that the teeth don’t require extensive shaping prior to the procedure. Sometimes this means that little or no anesthetic is required.

Veneers made from porcelain or resin look natural. Porcelain veneers resist stains from coffee, tea or smoking better than resin veneers. On the other hand, resin veneers may be able to be made thinner and require less tooth structure to be removed before they are applied. The decision to use resin or porcelain should be made on an individual basis.

Veneers usually require three dental visits: one for a consultation and two to complete the veneers.

First:

During your first visit, your dentist will examine your teeth to make sure veneers are appropriate for you. He or she will explain what the procedure will involve and some of the limitations.

Second:

On the second visit, your dentist may need to remove up to a millimeter and a half of enamel to accommodate the thickness of the veneers. (In some cases, no enamel removal is required.) This procedure is not painful, but may be uncomfortable for some people. Your dentist will use a local anesthetic if necessary.

Third:

Next, your dentist will take a make an impression of the teeth, which will be sent to a dental laboratory. The laboratory manufactures the veneers to fit your teeth. It usually takes one or two weeks for the veneers to be made. A temporary veneer may be applied during this time.

The veneers will be applied during the third visit. Your dentist will apply them temporarily with water or glycerin first, so he or she can check the fit and color and you can see what they will look like. If the color is not quite right, the color of the veneers or the cement can be adjusted. Sometimes the veneer will need to be sent back to the laboratory to get the ideal shade.

Once you’re satisfied with the veneers, your dentist will clean your teeth thoroughly and cement the veneers with bonding agents, which are hardened with a blue light.

You won’t have to change the way you floss or brush. Your dentist probably will ask you to come back in a few weeks so he or she can check the veneers for any problems.

Potential problems:

If enamel is removed, your teeth can become sensitive.

The veneers may not match the color of your other teeth exactly.

Veneers may fall off. The temporary veneer is more likely to fall off because it needs to be attached in such a way that it can be easily removed.

When To Call A Professional

If your teeth seem very sensitive after having veneers put on, or if the veneers crack or fall off, contact your dentist.