Dental veneers are thin custom-made shells designed to cover the front surface of the teeth, improving your appearance and enhancing your smile by altering the colour, shape, size and length of your teeth. Dental veneers can be made from porcelain or resin composite material. Although porcelain veneers are stain resistant and makes the teeth appear brighter, resin veneers are thinner and require less removal of the natural tooth surface before placement
Veneers are generally used to fix teeth that are discoloured, have gaps, are chipped and broken, are misaligned, irregularly shaped, or have merely been worn down. These tooth imperfections can arise from a variety of different reasons, such as: beverage intake (alcohol and caffeine are known causes of staining) and unhealthy lifestyles (smoking, drug addictions and poor oral hygiene are the main causes of tooth imperfection).
Getting dental veneers will require only three trips to the dentist. One for the consultation, and two to make and apply the veneers.
During the consultation, your dentist will examine your teeth to ensure that veneers are appropriate for you, while also discussing what the procedure entails and some of its limitations. It is important that you explain the results that you are trying to achieve, during this appointment.
Your second appointment will be for the preparation of your tooth for the veneers. You dentist will remove about ½ mm of your tooth enamel from the tooth surface. That amount is equal to the thickness of the veneer which will be bonded to the tooth. Once the enamel trimming has been done, your dentist will create a model or impression of your teeth which will be sent to a dental laboratory where your veneers will be constructed. It takes approximately 2 weeks for a dentist to receive veneers from the laboratory, so during this period temporary dental veneers can be worn to cover up unsightly teeth.
Your third appointment will be for the bonding of the veneers. Before your dentist permanently cements the veneers to your teeth, he or she will temporarily place the veneers on your tooth to determine whether the fit and colour is correct. Once the veneers perfectly match your teeth, your teeth will be cleaned, polished and etched. A special cement will then be applied to the veneer and the veneer will be placed on your tooth. Once the veneer is properly positioned on your tooth, your dentist will apply a special light beam to the dental veneer, which activates the chemicals in the cement, expediting the hardening and setting process. Once this is done, excess cement will be removed and any final adjustments will be made to the veneers. In some cases, your dentist might recommend that you schedule a follow-up appointment to ensure that your gums are responding correctly to the pressure of the veneer.
There are many advantages that veneers offer other than fixing damaged teeth. It also provides a natural tooth appearance, it makes the teeth appear whiter and brighter, gum tissue tolerates porcelain well and porcelain veneers are stain resistant. Veneers generally don’t require extensive shaping prior to the procedure the way crowns and bridges do, yet it offers a stronger and more aesthetic alternative.
The downside to dental veneers is that the process is irreversible. Veneers are more costly than composite resin bonding and are usually not repaired once they crack or chip. Because the tooth enamel gets removed, you may become more sensitive to hot and cold food and beverages. Another downside of veneers is that it cannot be whitened or bleached, and it could dislodge and fall off.
Because teeth with veneers can still experience decay, veneers are not a good choice for individuals with unhealthy teeth, active gum disease or weakened teeth. Individuals who clench and grind their teeth are also poor candidates for porcelain veneers, as these activities can cause the veneers to crack or chip.
Dental veneers generally last up to 10 years, if good oral hygiene (such as brushing and flossing of the teeth) is practiced. No special care is required, however, your dentist may recommend that you avoid food and beverages that may cause stains.
The cost of veneers depends on the extent of your procedure and is not covered by all medical aid providers.