A veneer is a porcelain or ceramic shell, which fits over the surface of a tooth like a crown. It is mostly used for aesthetic purposes. They are used to fix cracked, chipped, discolored or worn down teeth. They are almost impossible to stain and help a person retain whiter teeth and a beautiful smile. They are custom-made in order to fit a person's tooth. They are made from either composite, porcelain or resin. Porcelain veneers have better stain resistant property compared to resin veneers.
When are veneers used?
Veneers are used in the following conditions:
- When the teeth have discolored.
- When they are broken or chipped.
- When there is significant wear on the teeth.
- When teeth are misaligned and irregularly shaped.
- When there is a large gap between teeth.
The entire procedure usually requires three, or at least two visits to the dentist. They are for consultation, to take the measurements of the veneers required and to apply them. More than one teeth can undergo the process of veneering in a single sitting.
Diagnosis: The teeth are screened for any problems. Issues such as discoloration, cracks, chipping, etc. are examined. It is decided whether or not veneers are required. Sometimes, an x-ray is required to get a better view of the teeth.
Preparation: In order to make space for a veneer, about half a millimeter of enamel is removed from the tooth. This is almost equal to the thickness of the veneer that would be fused to the tooth. During the process, anesthesia may or may not be used.
Preparation of the veneer: An impression of the tooth is made and sent to the laboratory. It takes about 15 to 30 days for the veneer to be prepared.
Pre-bonding: This is a very elaborate process and has to be done with high accuracy. The veneer is placed on the tooth and checked for fit and color. The perfect fit is obtained by grinding the veneer many times. The color can be adjusted by the proper usage of bonding cement.
Bonding: Next, the tooth will be cleaned and roughened. This is done in order to provide a good grip for the veneer when placed on the tooth. Dental cement is applied to the tooth and the veneer is placed in position. A special light beam is applied on the veneer in order to activate the chemicals in the cement. This hardens the cement quickly, bonding the veneer to the tooth firmly. Any excess cement is removed and the person's bite is evaluated. Any final changes needed to be made to the veneer are taken care of.
Some of the advantages of veneers are:
- Gives the appearance of a natural tooth.
- They are most often stain-resistant.
- They ensure better teeth health by preventing cracks and wear.
- Teeth can be made to look darker or whiter, according to the patient's desire.
Veneers are not permanent and have to be replaced after a few years. Avoiding stain-inducing foods such as coffee, tea, and other beverages prevents discoloration of the veneers. Regular brushing and flossing also help in their longevity.