What are veneers?
Dental veneers are thin, tooth-coloured shells that cover the front surface of the tooth only to improve its aesthetic qualities (i.e. colour, shape, size).
Veneers are usually made of porcelain, but they can also be made of resin composite materials, as well. Composite veneers are also called direct veneers or bondings and porcelain veneers are called indirect veneers. Porcelain is more resistant to stains than composite and replicates tooth enamel more closely. Achieving that beaming Hollywood smile is certainly easier with porcelain veneers as they reflect light more effectively and lab technicians can digitally create the desired smile. They are however slightly more destructive, less reversible and cost significantly more.
Why do I need veneers?
Veneers are useful for a variety of situations, such as:
- Covering severely discoloured teeth
- Covering chipped or broken teeth
- Covering teeth that are misshaped
- Changing the colour of a severely discolored tooth to match the colour of your other teeth
- Closing small gaps in between the teeth
- Smile makeovers
- Cosmetic dentistry
- Improving the appearance of unaesthetic teeth
- Making worn teeth longer
In a nutshell, veneers are great for transforming the look, shape, colour and size of one or many teeth. They aren’t the most minimal treatment in general so it may be good to explore other options such as whitening first or in combination with the veneers.
What happens when I go to the dentist?
The dentist will begin with a full examination of your teeth, mouth and bite followed by a full discussion of all the options available to you with their pros and cons so you can make the best decision for your situation. If veneers are determined to be the best solution we will discuss in detail which type of veneer (porcelain or composite) may be more suitable for you. Sometimes we can mock up cases on software or in the mouth for you to get an idea of what they might look like should you decide to go ahead.
It is also important to remember that getting porcelain veneers done will take about a week. On the first appointment the teeth are prepared and temporised, the lab makes the veneers from detailed impressions that are taken and then they are bonded to your teeth about a week later. Some sensitivity is to be expected in between. Composite veneers are placed all at a single visit, the length of the appointment will depend on how many are being done.
How do I take care of my veneers?
With good oral hygiene and appropriate care your veneers can last over 10 plus years before needing replacement. They may last longer but as the gum shrinks the aesthetics may over time be compromised and need replacing. Care for them as you would any other tooth with effective brushing and flossing. Routine checkups are crucial so early problems can be diagnosed and treated.
Veneers are at risk of staining, chipping and coming off. The more care you take, the less likely these things are to occur.
Sometimes veneers can be repaired if they are damaged (i.e. chipped or cracked), sometimes they require replacement, it depends.
Here are some tips on how to take care of your veneers:
- Use a night guard if you’re prone to grinding or clenching your teeth while sleeping. Absolutely crucial with any cosmetic work.
- Wear a dentist made professional mouthguard if you are playing any sport that may result in injury to the mouth.
- Avoid eating hard foods on them- cut them up and chew on your back teeth.
- Avoid biting your nails, or other hard objects like ice, candies, pencils or anything similar.
What else should I know about veneers?
Having veneers to cover multiple teeth is quite a big decision and should not be taken lightly. This is because getting veneers is typically not reversible. Meaning, once you get veneers, if you decide to remove them after some time, your natural teeth will not look like they did before. Whether composite or porcelain this stands true. However, there are also instances where your teeth don’t need to be prepped or more realistically need to be prepped (filed down) very minimally in order to receive veneers, this depends on the case and your bite. You may hear these referred to as minimal or no prep veneers.
Also, the color of your veneers can’t be changed once they’re attached to your teeth, well they can but it will involve cutting them all off and is not a procedure you or the dentist want to do if avoidable. If you plan to get veneers only in your front teeth and just have the other natural teeth whitened, make sure to have the teeth whitening procedure first and this should be left for a period before the veneers are placed so that the oxidation doesn’t affect the bond. The more heavily restored your teeth are the less suitable veneers become, they are largely for healthy teeth. If you have weak, damaged or heavily filled teeth, then dental crowns would be a more suitable option.