Cosmetic Dentistry Veneers

Dental veneers, sometimes referred to as tooth veneers, are custom-made shells that are placed over the surface of the patient’s teeth. Made from either a resin composite or porcelain, veneers are placed on teeth to enhance their appearance, rather than to fix a health problem. Dental veneers can be used to fix:

  • chips in teeth
  • cracks in teeth
  • gaps between teeth
  • teeth discoloration
  • uneven teeth.

Dental Veneers - Cosmetic Dentistry

The Dental Veneer Procedure

On the first visit for a dental veneers procedure, your dentist will take an impression of your teeth to make a plaster mold. A second mold will also be made to reflect the changes that you will see once the veneers are put into place. Some dentists have a computer imaging system that allows you to see simulated results immediately on the screen.

The procedure for the placement of the veneer is as follows:

  1. Trimming: The dentist will shave off a 0.5 to 0.7 mm layer of your tooth’s enamel (which is about the thickness of an eggshell) that is the same thickness as the new veneer. This way, the thickness of the tooth will not be dramatically changed. A local anesthetic is sometimes given based on the patient’s needs.
  2. Making an impression: An impression of your shaved teeth is then taken so that the dentist can perfectly fit the veneers to your teeth. Dentists can make impressions instantly by taking an image of your teeth and scanning it into a machine that will cut the veneers into the appropriate shape. Alternately, dentists can also use traditional methods of making impressions by using putty to create a mold and sending the mold to a dental laboratory where the veneers will be hand-made. While this method is more time consuming in that it typically takes one to two weeks, many dentists recommend it, as it produces higher quality veneers than those that are made instantly.
  3. Evaluating the veneers: When the veneer is ready, the dentist will place it over your tooth to be sure it is the correct size and shape. The color can also be changed slightly using different color cements. The color and size choices are made based on both the dentist’s recommendations and the patient’s desires.
  4. Bonding the veneers: A special gel is first used over the tooth to create a rough surface that helps create a stronger bond between the tooth and the veneer. The dentist then coats your tooth with cement, attaches the veneer and then cures the cement using a special light to permanently bond the veneer to the tooth in seconds.

Good Candidates for Dental Veneers

Your dentist will discuss with you whether or not veneers are a good choice for you. As veneers are only a cosmetic fix for many visual flaws, they are not suitable for everyone. The veneer itself does not strengthen the tooth, so ideal candidates for dental veneers should already have healthy, strong teeth. Severe breakage, chipping or decay might make you a poor candidate for tooth veneers. You would also be a poor candidate if you:

  • do not have enough tooth enamel
  • grind your teeth incessantly
  • have severe decay.

Some important facts to consider if you are thinking about getting veneers are that:

  • They could potentially break or come off. If this happens, you will have to pay for a new veneer or to have the current one re-bonded.
  • It is not a reversible process. Once the dentist has shaved off the enamel from your teeth, there is no way to get it back.

The Cost of Dental Veneers

Dental veneers can cost anywhere from $500 to $1300 per tooth, depending on the quality of the veneer and the reputation of the dentist or cosmetic surgeon performing the procedure. For example, porcelain veneers are more expensive because they last longer than a resin composite.

Keep in mind also that tooth veneers are generally not covered by dental insurance, so be sure to call your dental insurance provider first.

Taking Care of Dental Veneers

After getting veneers, you may find that you are more sensitive to hot and cold foods. This is an expected side effect immediately after the placement. However, in time, this sensitivity should dissipate, if not disappear altogether. When it comes to biting with your new veneers, try to avoid very hard foods, such as carrots.

Another possible result of veneers is staining around the edges of the veneer. The tooth veneer itself is fairly stain-resistant, although it is still best to avoid drinks like wine, tea and coffee. However, the cement is likely to stain. The most highly susceptible place for cement staining is where the veneer meets the gums, resulting in a stained line at the top of your veneer.

Dental veneers can last up to ten years if taken care of properly. Traditional oral hygiene methods, including flossing and brushing, are essential to proper maintenance of dental veneers.

Resources

Johnstone, Greg (2008). Dental Veneers: Composite and Porcelain Veneers. Retrieved April 13, 2008, from the Consumer Guide to Dentistry Web site.

Rosoff, Jay H., DDS (2007). Dental Health: Veneers. Retrieved April 13, 2008, from the Web MD Web site.

WMDS, Inc. (2006). What Are Porcelain Veneers? Retrieved April 13, 2008, from the Animated-Teeth Web site.