Veneers are wafer-thin pieces of tooth-coloured material which are usually ceramic but can also be made from composite (tooth coloured filling material). They are “bonded” to the front surface of teeth to improve cosmetic appearance. Many Dentists use the analogy that dental veneers are for teeth what false fingernails are for hands. There are a wide variety of reasons why patients opt for treatment with dental veneers such as discolouration that cannot be improved by tooth whitening treatments, damaged / broken teeth, “gappy” teeth, crooked teeth and sometimes when the patient would prefer no orthodontics.
The process – the front surface and tip of the tooth needs to be reshaped and prepared so that it can accommodate the veneer. Using a very fine dental drill a tiny part of the surface of the tooth is removed in a very specific manner. (This amount should be equivalent to the thickness of the veneer that will sit over the top of the tooth and is often as little as half a millimetre) Next, an impression or mould of the tooth is taken and sent to a specialist dental technician. The technician uses the impression to make an accurate model of the tooth, which is used as a guide to fabricate the new veneer. This process can take between one and three weeks. Sometimes temporary veneers need to be made in the surgery by the Dentist but not always. Once ready the final veneer will be placed over the tooth to see how it looks and trimmed or adjusted as needed. The tooth is then thoroughly cleaned and the front surface etched (roughened) with a special gel so that it provides a good surface for the dental cement to adhere to. The veneer is then “bonded” into place, using a special curing light to activate the resin cement. Any excess cement is trimmed away and the tooth polished to leave a beautiful and natural-looking restoration.
Like fillings or crowns veneers don’t last forever and may well need to be replaced at some time. How long they last depends on how well they’re made and looked after as well as the bite forces they’re subjected to. The Dentist may well suggest some pre operative bite therapies or a post operative night guard to try and minimise these forces. Well functioning veneers can last up to 15 years.
- Minimal tooth removal usually needed
- Can usually improve colour, size and shape of teeth
- Can correct mild irregularities
- Very technique sensitive ( fiddly! )
- Sometimes difficult to temporize while the veneers are being made
- Can crack / fracture
- Can stain around edges