Tooth veneers are very thin pieces of porcelain or plastic applied to the front part of teeth using a bonding agent. Often used as an alternative to crowns (which cover the whole tooth), veneers can correct teeth that are discolored, misshapen, pitted or chipped, or correct problems with too much space between teeth. Also, unlike crowns, veneers do not require the dentist to remove much of the underlying material of the tooth before they are applied. The procedure is painless, requiring little or no anesthetic. Typically, veneers do not stain and cost less than crowns, so they are used in many cases by patients hoping to improve the appearance of their smile at a reasonable cost. Once applied, dental veneers are strong and durable, and will last for many years. There are several types of veneers:
- Porcelain veneers – These veneers are created from a very thin porcelain material. Application of these veneers typically require two dental visits, because the final veneers must be created by a dental laboratory. They are extremely durable and stain-resistant.
- Lumineer veneers – Made of Cerinate porcelain, these are a newer type of veneer that are as thin as contact lenses, only .2mm thick. They require less of the tooth enamel to be removed before they are bonded to it.
- Composite (direct) veneers – This procedure (sometimes referred to as bonding) involves direct application of a bond and enamel mixture to the tooth surface. The resulting veneer is not as stain-resistant as porcelain or Lumineer veneers and may not last as long.
What can you expect if you get a veneer?
The application of a porcelain veneer usually requires two visits to the dentist. During the first visit, your dentist will apply a local anesthetic to numb the area, and then lightly buff the tooth to remove a thin layer of the enamel and make room for the veneer. An impression or mold is then made of the tooth, from which the veneer is created. A temporary veneer is applied until the permanent one has been completed. On your next visit, the dentist applies a mild chemical to the tooth to make its surface rougher, so that the bonding agent will adhere more strongly. The veneer is then attached to the tooth, using a composite resin cement. A light beam is often used to harden or “set” the cement.
If you are getting a Lumineer veneer, you still need two dental visits, but little or no tooth reduction is necessary, so no anesthetic may be needed. Also, there is no need to wear a temporary veneer while the permanent Lumineer veneer is being completed.
Composite veneers can often be applied in a single visit, again with no need for anesthetic.