Dental VeneersEveryday wear and tear can take its toll on our teeth. Over time, problems such as discoloration and chipping are almost unavoidable. In many cases, dental veneers provide a fast, highly effective cosmetic treatment if unsightly teeth are spoiling your smile and making you feel self-conscious.

Veneers1 – tooth-colored, wafer-thin shells – are fixed onto the front of teeth to conceal chipping or stains. They can also enhance the appearance of the size and shape of teeth to achieve a more balanced look by fixing the problem of crowded or gapped teeth.

Benefits of veneers include:

Minimal preparation. Unlike crowns, veneers require only minimal removal of tooth enamel to ensure a good fit. This helps your teeth to retain their natural defenses against bacteria and decay.

Durability. Porcelain veneers can last for many years. They are unlikely to break, chip or sustain any other damage, particularly if you take good care of your teeth. They are also resistant to stains.

Versatility. Veneers can improve the appearance of teeth affected by a wide range of cosmetic defects.

The Veneers Process

While some cosmetic dental treatments can take months, the dental veneer process is typically completed in just two visits, following an initial consultation.

During the first visit, your dentist will prepare your teeth for your veneers and take impressions to be sent to a lab.

Preparation entails trimming about half a millimeter of enamel from the tooth surface – roughly equivalent to the thickness of the veneer.

It usually takes two to four weeks for the lab to make your veneers. During your second visit, your dentist will:

• Thoroughly clean the tooth or teeth to be treated.

• Check the shading and fit of the veneer.

• Roughen the tooth surface to ensure optimum bonding.

• Apply the veneer and harden it with a special ultraviolet light.

What Can I Expect After Veneers Treatment?

You shouldn’t need any additional treatment after your veneers are fitted but your dentist may ask you to schedule a follow-up visit in a couple of weeks to check that the veneers are remaining in proper position and to see how your gums are responding.

Bear in mind, though, that you need to maintain your routine dental exams and professional cleanings, and your dentist may recommend a non-abrasive toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush to avoid damage to your veneers.

Veneers are sturdy but can still be damaged by habits such as chewing on ice or biting your fingernails. If you suffer from bruxism – teeth grinding – a nightguard can help to protect your veneers and your teeth.

The shading of a veneer cannot be altered once it’s in place. If you’re considering whitening your teeth, do so before getting veneers.

You may notice that veneers can cause a tooth to become more sensitive to hot and cold drinks and foods.

Veneers Vs. Teeth Whitening and Bonding

The problem of superficial stains may be addressed temporarily by professional teeth whitening, but it’s not a permanent solution. Whitened teeth can quickly develop stains again, unlike veneers, which are stain-resistant and can conceal even the most severe cases of discoloration. Not only do veneers give the appearance of whiter teeth but they also correct cosmetic problems such as cracked or chipped teeth.

The most effective smile makeover may be achieved with a combination of veneers and whitening, with veneers for your more visible front teeth and whitening of surrounding teeth to create a uniform look.

Dental bonding – when the composite resin is attached to the surface of a tooth – can be a quick fix for chipped teeth but, like whitening treatment, lasts nowhere near as long. Neither can bonding solve the problem of vertical fractures in a tooth. Unlike bonding, veneers provide a more protective structure for your teeth, covering the entire tooth and protecting its nerves. Like whitened teeth, bonded is susceptible to staining.

How Veneers Have Progressed

Veneers were created in 1928 for a Hollywood film shoot. They were primitive by today’s standards, consisting of an acrylic cap that only stayed in place for a few hours.

Many movie stars today seeking a fast smile makeover opt to take advantage of the state-of-the-art technology behind modern veneers, which are now more effective than ever, less costly and a popular mainstream choice in cosmetic dentistry.

Although introduced almost a century ago, veneers are relatively new compared with other cosmetic dental treatments that have their origins among ancient civilizations. Nowadays, thanks to advances in technology, veneers are thinner than ever, which allows most of the structure of the tooth to be preserved.

Veneers look like natural teeth because they’re made from advanced materials that closely resemble tooth enamel. The translucent properties of veneers respond to light in the same way as enamel.

Porcelain veneers – made from medical-grade ceramic that’s tolerated well by the gums – are more durable and less vulnerable to staining than composite veneers.

Over the past few decades, advances in dental technology – including further improvement in bonding agents – have created veneers that look increasingly natural, and digital imaging helps to make veneers as near a perfect match as possible to your natural teeth.

Ready to Reap the Benefits of Veneers?

If your teeth are showing signs of having seen better days but are still basically healthy, veneers could be the ideal cosmetic option to give your smile a makeover.

If you have an uneven gum line, veneers can be particularly beneficial in creating a tidier look more in proportion with your teeth.

Dental veneers can be fitted with little or no anesthetic and can be used to:

• Make an irregular gum line look more in balance with your teeth.

• Correct teeth crowding or gaps.

• Recontour teeth by making them appear squarer or longer.

• Protect tooth surfaces from damage.

An initial consultation2 with a dentist experienced in cosmetic treatments will help you to decide whether veneers are the way to go to give you the Hollywood smile of your dreams.

Veneers can also be combined with other treatments such as professional teeth whitening to produce comprehensive cosmetic results.