Definition and Overview
Veneers are thin custom-made tooth-colored materials that are used to cover the surface of teeth to improve their appearance. They are bonded to the teeth surface to cover up common problems and change the color, size, and shape of teeth. Because of their ability to look like natural teeth and resolve many problems at once, veneers have become one of the most sought after dental solutions today.
Advantages of Veneers
- Veneers have a natural life-like tooth appearance.
- Recent developments and advances in veneers make them better tolerated by the gums and more comfortable for patients.
- They are more resistant to stains compared to crowns.
- Veneers offer a very conservative solution, as they require only a minimal reshaping of the real teeth, unlike crowns that require extensive shaping.
- They are longer lasting than crowns. Veneers generally have a lifespan of 5 to 10 years.
Disadvantages of Veneers
There are also some downsides that need to be considered prior to getting the procedure done:
- Getting veneers placed is an irreversible procedure.
- Once they crack or chip, veneers can no longer be repaired. They need to be replaced.
- Veneers tend to cost more than other alternatives.
- Due to the removal of a layer of enamel from the tooth surface, veneers may cause mild sensitivity to hot and cold beverages.
- Biting on or chewing hard objects may cause veneers to dislodge, although this happens very rarely and usually only when the dentist does not properly bond the veneers.
- Veneers cannot prevent tooth decay; if a tooth with veneer experiences decay, you may still need to get a crown. Thus, proper dental care is necessary when you have veneers.
- Veneers are not advisable for individuals with tooth decay, active gum disease, weakened teeth, and large dental fillings.
Different types of dental veneers
Dental veneers come in different types based on the material used to make them. These include:
- Porcelain veneers - Porcelain veneers are currently the most requested type of veneer due to their many benefits over the conventional resin composite veneers. Developed due to the life-like color of porcelain, these veneers look so natural that it becomes impossible to distinguish them from natural teeth. This is because the porcelain material reflects light better and mimics the natural look of teeth. Porcelain dental veneers also provide other benefits, such as better stain resistance to prevent discoloration of the veneer. This makes them last longer. On top of these, porcelain is also well accepted by gum tissue, thus causing fewer compatibility and tolerance issues in the long run.
- Resin composite veneers - Resin composite veneers are the conventional veneers used by dentists. Many patients still request resin veneers because they are thinner. This means that dentists only need to remove a very thin layer of the tooth surface to give way to the veneer, unlike porcelain veneers that require more space.
When should you get veneers
Dentists use veneers to fix several dental problems. These include:
- Discoloration – One of the most common problems people have with their teeth is discoloration, or when the teeth are stained. Teeth can get stained over time due to use and the breakdown of enamel, but tetracycline and other drugs, excessive application of fluoride, or the use of resin fillings can also cause stains.
- Chipped or broken teeth
- Misaligned teeth
- Irregularly shaped teeth
- Uneven teeth surface, such as the presence of craters or bulges on the surface
- Gaps between teeth
Getting Veneers: What to expect
If you are getting veneers, you will go through a routine involving a total of three trips to the dentist's office:
- Consultation – During your first visit, your dentist will examine the problematic tooth or teeth. You and your dentist will discuss the possible treatment options as well as the pros and cons of getting veneers. Your dentist will tell you whether veneers are appropriate for your situation. If you decide to go through with the veneers, your dentist will also fully acquaint you with the procedure, its benefits, and its limitations. He will then take an x-ray and make impressions of the affected teeth.
- Preparation – During your second visit, your dentist will prepare the tooth for the placement of the veneers. This involves removing a thin layer from the surface of your teeth. The thickness of this layer will depend on the type of veneer you choose. A local anesthetic will be used to numb the area beforehand. After the procedure, the dentist will send your tooth's impression and have your veneers fabricated by a dental laboratory. This will take about 1 to 2 weeks depending on how many veneers you need. If the prepared tooth looks unsightly, you may ask for temporary veneers while waiting; this may require an additional cost.
- Bonding or application – On your third visit, your dentist will bond the veneer to the surface of your tooth. Several veneers can be bonded at once. The bonding process begins with the cleaning and polishing of the tooth surface; the surface has to be roughened to make sure the veneer bonds more strongly. Once the proper fit and positioning is achieved, the dentist will apply a special beam of light to activate the chemicals in the veneer's cement. This makes it harden quickly and attach itself to the tooth surface permanently. To test proper placement, the dentist will evaluate your bite, remove excess cement, and make necessary adjustments.
Aside from these three visits, your dentist may ask you to come back for a follow-up check a couple of weeks after the veneers are bonded. This is to make sure no problems come up especially with your gums' response to the veneer.
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