What Are Dental Veneers?
Dental veneers are basically custom made tooth-colored shells that are wafer thin and fitted to your teeth in order to improve their appearance. The shells are bonded to the front of your teeth, in effect changing the color, shape, size, or length.
Dental veneers are made from a couple of different materials, porcelain or resin composite. Of the two, porcelain will be more stain resistant and will generally better mimic the light reflecting properties of your teeth. Your dentist will help you to make the best choice for your needs.
Getting a dental veneer is usually something that requires three trips to the dentist:
Diagnosis and treatment planning. During this step you will basically be talking with your dentist, explaining what you are trying to achieve with your veneers. Your dentist will help you to decide what is more appropriate for you and may take x-rays or make impressions of your mouth and teeth.
Preparation. In preparation for your veneer, your dentist will remove about a ½ millimeter of enamel from the tooth’s surface to make room for the veneer. The veneer will be about the same width as the enamel that was removed. A local anesthetic may be necessary before starting this process. Once this is done, an impression will be made of your teeth and sent to the lab where they will construct the veneer. This is usually a 2-4 week process to get the veneers back from the lab.
Bonding. The veneer is always temporarily placed to your teeth before it is permanently bonded in order to examine its fit and color. The veneer will be repeatedly removed and trimmed to make sure it is perfectly fit to your teeth. Your teeth will then be cleaned, polished and etched to prepare them for the veneer. The etching roughens the teeth to allow for a stronger bonding process. A special cement is applied to the veneer and then the veneer is placed on your teeth. A special light beam is then used, which activates the chemicals in the cement, causing it to harden very quickly.
The final step is to remove any excess cement and examining the veneer to make sure everything is perfect and at this time, any final adjustments will be made. In most cases, your dentist will ask you to come in for a follow-up visit within a couple of weeks to make sure that everything is working correctly and also that your gums are responding properly to the veneer.