A veneer is a thin layer of porcelain made to fit over the front surface of a tooth, like a false fingernail fits over a nail. Sometimes a natural colour ‘composite’ material is used instead of porcelain.
What It’s Used For
Veneers are used to correct cosmetic defects on teeth or to correct the way that teeth come together. Cosmetic problems that can be corrected with veneers include:
- Teeth that are slightly crooked or stained
- Chipped teeth
- Gaps between teeth
- Teeth that are different lengths
In the past, the only way to correct these or other imperfections was to cover the tooth with a crown. The teeth will need to be reshaped (cut) before veneers are put on. Sometimes, very little reshaping is needed. Other times, more of the tooth needs to be removed.
Veneers look like natural teeth. Porcelain veneers resist stains from coffee, tea or smoking better than resin veneers do. Resin veneers cost less, but they chip easily and don’t last as long as ceramic veneers. You and your dentist also should talk about whether veneers will work for you. For some people, the way the teeth come together (the bite) creates pressures that could chip or break veneers.
How It’s Done
Your dentist may need to remove a small amount of enamel (the outer coating of the teeth). This is to make room for the veneers. In some cases, this isn’t necessary. Removing the enamel doesn’t hurt, but it may be uncomfortable. Your dentist will use a local anesthetic if needed.
Next, your dentist will take an impression of your teeth. This will be sent to a dental laboratory. The laboratory will make veneers to fit your teeth. It usually takes one or two weeks for the veneers to be made. A temporary veneer may be made and put on during this time.
The veneers will be bonded on during the third visit. Your dentist will apply them temporarily first, using water or glycerin. This will allow both of you to see how they look. If the color is not quite right, it can be adjusted. Sometimes the veneer will need to be sent back to the laboratory to get the color or shape changed.
Once you’re satisfied with the veneers, your dentist will clean your teeth and bond the veneers onto your teeth.
Another type of veneer, which is exceptionally thin (0.2 millimeters), is now available. Use of this type of veneer does not require any tooth preparation. Also, the procedure is reversible because the teeth are not cut.
It can take time for you to get used to the appearance and feel of your new teeth. You won’t have to change the way you floss or brush, however. But you should not:
- Bite your nails
- Chew on pens, ice or other hard objects
- Put extreme pressure on your teeth
Doing any of these things can cause the veneers to come off, break or chip. Your dentist probably will ask you to come back in a few weeks. He or she will check the veneers for any problems.
If enamel is removed from your teeth, they can become sensitive.
The veneers may not exactly match the color of your other teeth.
Veneers may fall off. A temporary veneer is more likely to fall off.
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.