Also called: Tooth Veneers, Dental Veneers
Andrew M. Sicklick, D.D.S.
Veneers are extremely thin shells of artificial material that are made to fit over the front side of a patient’s teeth and look like natural teeth. A tiny amount of enamel is generally removed to make room for the veneers, so the process is not reversible. Veneers can be used to mask stains, chipped, worn, misshapen or slightly crooked teeth, or gaps or spaces between teeth. They may be made from porcelain, ceramic or composite resin materials.
A dental examination is necessary before a patient gets veneers to determine if the patient is a good candidate and, if so, what type of veneers would be best. To be a good candidate for veneers, the patient’s teeth must have no tooth decay or gum disease. After the initial examination and evaluation, veneers typically require two more visits: one to prepare the teeth and one to bond the veneers to the teeth. Each of these appointments tends to take between one and two hours.
A dentist prepares the tooth by removing a very small amount of enamel, usually less than 1/10 inch (about 1/2 to 2 millimeters), to make room for the veneer. If the patient is being prepared for porcelain veneers, an impression of the teeth is made. This impression and any specific orders are then sent to a dental laboratory, where the veneers are custom-made based on the impression. The veneers are bonded to the teeth using dental cement or are molded from composite resin. The cement or resin is hardened using a special high-intensity light.
Veneers generally require no special care. However, they can be damaged. Veneers may chip, fracture, peel or fall off. Because of this, they are not typically recommended for people who clench or grind their teeth (bruxism). To prevent damaging the veneers, patients are advised to avoid placing too much pressure on them. For example, patients should not bite their nails or chew on hard objects (e.g., pencils, ice, bones). If the veneers are damaged or come off, new ones will probably be needed.