Veneers are ultra-thin shells of ceramic (porcelain), which are bonded to the front of teeth.
This procedure can be the ideal choice for improving the appearance of the front teeth. Veneers are placed to mask discolorations, to brighten teeth and to improve a smile.
Why a veneer?
Veneers are an alternative to crowns in many situations. They provide a much more conservative approach to changing a tooth’s colour, size or shape. Veneers can mask undesirable defects, such as teeth stained by tetracycline and damage due to an injury or as a result of a root-canal procedure. They are ideal for masking discoloured fillings in front teeth. Patients with gaps between their front teeth or teeth that are chipped or worn may consider veneers.
What happens during the procedure?
Patients need three appointments for the entire procedure. To prepare the teeth for the veneers, the teeth are lightly buffed to allow for the small added thickness of the veneer. Usually, about half a millimetre of the tooth is removed, which will require a local anaesthetic (injections). For ceramic veneers, a mould is taken of the teeth, which is sent to the laboratory for the fabrication of the veneers.
When your ceramic veneers are ready, the veneer is placed on the teeth to check their fit and get a sense of the shade or colour. While the veneers are resting on your teeth, view the results, and pay particular attention to the colour. At this point, the colour of the veneers can still be adjusted with the shade of the cement to be used. The colour cannot be altered after veneers are cemented. To apply the veneer, the tooth is cleansed with specific chemicals to achieve a bond. Once a special cement is sandwiched between the veneer and tooth, a light beam hardens the cement.
How about maintenance?
For about a week or two, you will go through a period of adjustment as you get used to your “new” teeth that have changed in size and shape. Brush and floss daily. After one or two weeks, you will be asked to return for a follow-up appointment.
What are realistic expectations?
Veneers are reasonable facsimiles of natural teeth, not perfect replacements. It’s not uncommon to see slight variations in the colour of veneers upon close inspection, as this occurs even in natural teeth. Nevertheless, this procedure can greatly enhance your smile and can heighten self-esteem.