Dental veneers are thin, hand-crafted, tailor made shells of tooth coloured material that are placed on the outside of your teeth to improve the appearance of your smile. Dental veneers can be used to correct various imperfections, including:
- Crooked or poorly shaped teeth
- Spaces between teeth
- Chipped teeth
- Permanently internally and/or externally stained
Different types of veneers
There are two different types of veneers, porcelain and composite. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. The most suitable option varies from person to person.
Porcelain veneers are semi-transparent, thin shells that are custom made to fit over the front of each tooth. They are translucent, porcelain veneers that blend in seamlessly, providing the appearance of a natural tooth.
Porcelain veneers are also very durable and stain resistant, allowing you to go about your daily life without worrying about chipping or staining. Porcelain veneers can be completed within just two visits:
During your first appointment, you and your dentist will have an in-depth discussion about why you are considering veneers and the desired results you wish to achieve. Your dentist will then prepare each tooth by removing a thin layer from the surface (approximately 0.3mm – 1.0mm) to allow room for the new veneer. Once complete, a precise impression will then be taken of your teeth. This impression will then be sent to a dental laboratory where the new veneers are made. This process normally takes one to two weeks.
During your second appointment, your dentist will check sizing, colour and fit of your new veneers. It is at this stage, you’ll be able to see how your new veneers look on you. For anything you wish to change about your new veneers you’ll have this opportunity to discuss with your dentist. Once you and your dentist are both satisfied with the look and fit of your new veneers, they will be permanently bonded to your teeth using a light activated adhesive. The veneers will then be trimmed and polished resulting in a smooth and natural finish.
Composite veneers are made up of a composite resin (same material used for white fillings) and are placed on the front of your tooth. Composite veneers are a most cost-effective alternative to porcelain veneers and require less tooth to be removed.
Composite veneers can be applied in one appointment. Similar to the process for porcelain veneers, your dentist will discuss your expected results and will then begin to prepare the teeth. Once the teeth are ready, the composite resin is applied as a paste and then sculpted into the desired shape. Once the correct shape is achieved, the veneer will be set using a light activation system. The set teeth will then be finished and polished.
Unlike porcelain veneers, composite veneers are prone to staining. You can avoid staining your new composite veneers by cutting out or reducing the consumption of certain foods from your diet. Food and drink such as coffee, red wine and berries can irreversibly stain your veneers over time.
Composite veneers have a shorter lifespan than porcelain, normally requiring replacing after three to five years.
Are veneers right for me?
While veneers can assist in fixing a number of dental issues, they are not appropriate for everyone. During your initial consultation, your dentist will provide a thorough assessment to ensure that you are a good candidate. Some of the reasons why a person may not be suitable for veneers include:
- Unhealthy teeth – A patient with serious tooth decay, gingivitis or gum disease would not be eligible for veneers. However once the issue is treated and the mouth is healthy, then veneers are once again an option.
- Clenching and grinding – Patients who clench or grind their teeth are not good candidates for veneers. While durable, veneers are not as strong as natural teeth. Clenching and grinding makes them more susceptible to chipping or breaking. If a patient only grinds during sleep, veneers may still be a viable option as long as a night guard is diligently worn to help protect the teeth.
- Weakened teeth – If there is not enough tooth structure or the tooth has significant fillings, then it may not be strong enough to support veneers. Alternative solutions, such as crowns, may need to be considered.
How to maintain dental veneers
While very durable, dental veneers can chip or come off if not cared for properly. It is very important that you avoid adopting bad habits such as chewing on pens, nail-biting, crunching on ice cubes and grinding your teeth.
As with all dental treatments, it is important to maintain a healthy oral hygiene routine by brushing twice a day and flossing once a day.
Disclaimer: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.