Dental veneers (sometimes called porcelain veneers or dental porcelain
laminates) are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials
designed to cover the front surface of teeth. These shells are bonded to the
front of the teeth changing their color, shape, size or length and resulting in
an improved appearance.
Dental veneers can be made from porcelain or from resin composite materials.
Porcelain veneers resist stains better than resin veneers and better mimic the
light reflecting properties of natural teeth. Resin veneers are thinner and
require removal of less of the tooth surface before placement. You will need to
discuss the best choice of veneer material for you with your dentist.
What Types of Problems Do Dental Veneers Fix?
Veneers are routinely used to fix:
What's the Procedure for Getting a Dental Veneer?
Teeth that are discolored either because of root canal treatment, stains from
tetracycline or other drugs, excessive fluoride or other causes or the presence
of large resin fillings that have discolored the tooth
Teeth that are worn down
Teeth that are chipped or broken
Teeth that are misaligned, uneven, or irregularly shaped (for example, have
craters or bulges in them)
Teeth with gaps between them (to close the space between these teeth)
The procedure usually requires three trips to the dentist one for a
consultation and two to make and apply the veneers. The procedure itself
involves several steps. These are: diagnosis and treatment planning,
preparation, and bonding. It is important to note that one tooth or many teeth
can simultaneously undergo the veneering process described below.
What Are the Advantages of Dental Veneers?
Diagnosis and treatment planning. This first step involves
active participation between you and your dentist. Explain to your dentist the
result that you are trying to achieve. During this appointment your dentist
will examine your teeth to make sure dental veneers are appropriate for you and
discuss what the procedure will involve and some of its limitations. He or she
also may take x-rays and possibly make impressions of your mouth and teeth.
Preparation. To prepare a tooth for a veneer, your dentist
will remove about ½ millimeter of enamel from the tooth surface, which is an
amount nearly equal to the thickness of the veneer to be added to the tooth
surface. Next, your dentist will make a model or impression of your tooth. This
model is sent out to a dental laboratory, which in turn constructs your veneer.
It usually takes 1 to 2 weeks for your dentist to receive the veneers back from
the laboratory. In the meantime, your teeth are temporized to reduce
sensitivity and satisfy cosmetic concerns.
Bonding . Before the dental veneer is permanently cemented to
your tooth, your dentist will temporarily place it on your tooth to examine its
fit and color. The veneer color can be adjusted with the shade of cement to be
used. A special cement is applied to the veneer and the veneer is then
placed on your tooth. Once properly positioned on the tooth, your dentist will
apply a special light beam to the dental veneer, which activates the
cement, causing it to harden or cure very quickly. The final steps involve
removing any excess cement, evaluating your bite and making any final
adjustments to the veneer as necessary. Your dentist may ask you to return
for a follow-up visit in a couple of weeks to check how your gums are
responding to the presence of your veneer and to once again examine the
Veneers offer the following advantages:
What Are the Disadvantages of Dental Veneers?
They provide a natural tooth appearance.
Gum tissue tolerates porcelain well.
Porcelain veneers are stain resistant.
The color of a porcelain veneer can be selected such that it makes dark teeth
Veneers offer a conservative approach to changing a tooth's color and
shape-veneers generally don't require the extensive shaping prior to the
procedure that crowns do, yet offer a stronger, more esthetic alternative to
The downside of dental veneers include these:
How Long Do Dental Veneers Last?
The process is not reversible.
Veneers are more costly than composite resin bonding.
Veneers are usually not repairable should they chip or crack.
Because enamel has been removed, your tooth may become more sensitive to hot
and cold foods and beverages.
Veneers may not exactly match the color of your other teeth. Also, the veneer's
color cannot be altered once in place. If you plan on whitening your teeth, you
need to do so before getting veneers.
Though not likely, veneers can dislodge and fall off. To minimize the chance of
this occurring, do not bite your nails; chew on pencils, ice, or other hard
objects; or otherwise put pressure on your teeth.
Teeth with veneers can still experience decay, possibly necessitating full
coverage of the tooth with a crown.
Veneers are not a good choice for individuals with unhealthy teeth (for
example, those with decay or active periodontal disease), weakened teeth (as a
result of decay, fracture, large dental fillings) or by those who had an
inadequate amount of existing enamel on the tooth surface.
Individuals who clench and grind their teeth are poor candidates for porcelain
veneers, as these activities can cause the veneers to crack or chip.
Veneers generally last between 5 and 10 years. After this time, the veneers
would need to be replaced.
Do Dental Veneers Require Special Care?
No. Continue to follow good oral hygiene practices including brushing
and flossing as you normally would.
Even though porcelain veneers resist stains, your dentist may recommend that
you avoid stain-causing foods and beverages (for example, coffee, tea or red
Are There Alternatives to Dental Veneers?
Yes, bondings and crowns are alternatives. Veneers offer a nice
intermediate option. Veneers may be best suited for individuals who want to
change the shape of their teeth more than just a little bit-as is done with
bonding-but not enough to require a crown.