Introduction to Veneers
Used widely in cosmetic dentistry nowadays, a veneer is a thin layer of material placed over the front visible tooth surface which can improve the colour, shape and size of the tooth. It is almost like a false fingernail. The appearance of a tooth can be dramatically improved by a dental veneer restoration. Discoloured, misshapen teeth can be permanently whitened and improved with a veneer.
There are two main types of material used to make a veneer; composite and porcelain. A composite veneer may be directly placed (built-up in the mouth), or indirectly fabricated by a dental technician in a lab, and later bonded to the tooth using special cement. In contrast, a porcelain veneer may only be indirectly fabricated. Porcelain veneers are somewhat more durable, have better aesthetics, and less likely to stain than veneers made of composite. Composite veneers are generally cheaper than porcelain veneers.
In what type of cases would veneers be suitable?
Dental veneers are an ideal form of treatment if you have any of the following:
- Chipped teeth.
- Stained and discoloured teeth.
- Spacing between the teeth (which you are unhappy with).
- Mildly crooked teeth.
- Teeth that aren’t a great shape (e.g. too short or too narrow).
Once an assessment has been made that porcelain veneers are an appropriate treatment option, the teeth are prepared and impressions taken. The veneers are then custom-made by a skilled laboratory technician, before being placed on the teeth on the subsequent visit.
We can use one veneer to restore a single tooth that may have been fractured or discolored, or multiple teeth to create a “Hollywood” type of makeover. Many people have small teeth resulting in spaces that may not be easily closed by orthodontics. Some people have worn away the edges of their teeth resulting in a prematurely aged appearance, while others may have malpositioned teeth that appear crooked. Multiple veneers can close these spaces, lengthen teeth that have been shortened by wear, provide a uniform color, shape, and symmetry, and make the teeth appear straight.
Things to bear in mind if considering veneers:
1. As you can see from the photos above, your gums must be really healthy if you would like veneers. If your gums are not healthy, then this must be addressed first so that when the veneers are done, they will look and feel great and give you many years of service.
2. If you are thinking of having veneers placed on heavily worn or chipped teeth, we need to make sure that this issue has been addressed first. Habits such as nail biting can cause problems for veneers and can shorten their lifespan. Sometimes, we will make a night splint appliance for our patient to help protect the veneers from harm.
3. We don’t recommend porcelain veneers for patients aged under 18. The shape of the gumline in young adults changes quite considerably as they age, and the nerve is closer to surface of the tooth so we prefer to defer any porcelain restorations until the patient is at least 18yrs old.
4. Veneers that look natural and like ‘real teeth’ require considerable skill and meticulous attention to detail, both for the dentist and the ceramist. In many cases, we will do a mock-up (wax-up) on a model of your teeth to show how the veneers might look. We can make adjustments to the wax-up and achieve a great look with ‘no surprises’ when the final veneers are fitted. Doing a wax-up also has the added benefit of having a beautiful provisonal veneer(s) which will give you an idea of how the real veneers will appear when fitted.
5. Veneers can be made to any shade you like; while “whiter than white”, hollywood type styles can be delivered, most patients prefer a bright, natural look. At Shelbourne Clinic, we spend a great deal of time with you selecting a suitable shade for your veneers. In some cases, we may have our ceramist on site to also help with shade selection.