A veneer is a thin layer of porcelain or composite custom made to over the front surface of a tooth. It is essentially like a false fingernail fits over a nail but the degree of precision with which it fits is very high.
Veneers can improve the colour, positions and shapes of your teeth or close small gaps between teeth. Sometimes they are used in combination with other treatments such as teeth whitening, composite fillings, crowns, bridges and implants as part of a “smile makeover”. Typical cases treated with veneers may be.
- Discoloured teeth
- Broken tooth or filling keeps falling off
- Worn down teeth or teeth that are short
- Gaps beween teeth
- Filled and unsightly tooth
- Root treated tooth
A veneer can make a chipped tooth look intact again by covering the whole of the front of the tooth with a thicker section covering the broken part.
If teeth are out of position, veneers can be used to bring the teeth into good alignment.
Small gaps between teeth could be closed with veneers by making the teeth a better shape. Sometimes these gaps are near the gum where the gum has pulled back (receded).
Your dentist will discuss the pros and cons of composite and porcelain veneers and alternative treatments such as braces where teeth are not in line or have small gaps, so that you are able to make a fully informed decision.
Veneers are very thin and are held in with a special very strong dental cement that is available in lots of different shades. Because the veneers are so thin very little preparation of the tooth is needed and they look very natural. Your dentist will advise you on your specific situation so that you know how much tooth preparation is needed.
When a tooth is prepared for a veneer, the amount of enamel removed will be the same as the thickness of the veneer, so that the tooth stays the same size. If the tooth is not in line with the others than the veneer needs to be made thicker so that the tooth lines up properly. Quite often no local anesthetic (injection) is needed, but a small amount may be used to make sure there is no discomfort. Once the tooth has been prepared the dentist will take an impression (mould) and send this to the laboratory along with any other information the lab will need. A temporary veneer is then fitted over the tooth. The new veneer is ready 2 weeks later and it is fitted with a very strong cement.
Veneers should last for many years but you should be aware they can chip or break just as you own teeth can. Small chips are usually possible to repair with composite veneers but not with porcelain.
We sometimes provide diagnostic aids like a “diagnostic preview”, where the veneers can be waxed on a stone model of your teeth so you can see the shapes and sizes of the veneers to get some idea what they will look like.
Whilst there are many situations where veneers will be the ideal choice, in many cases bonded composite filling will provide an excellent result, especially when the corner of the tooth is not involved.
Whilst treatment with braces may sometimes seem like a lengthy process, it is often the first choice of treatment where teeth are not aligned correctly.