This section of our cosmetic dentistry information site provides you with some background into dental veneers, both composite veneers and porcelain veneers. Dental veneers, sometimes called tooth veneers, can be used to correct both color and shape problems.
What causes discoloration of the teeth?
Teeth enamel discoloration can be caused by staining, aging, or chemical damage to teeth. Some of the more common causes of teeth discoloration are medications, coffee, tea or cigarettes. People who drink significant amounts of cola soft drinks can experience similar staining.
Aside from staining, there are other factors that can affect the color of an individual's teeth. Genetics can play a role. Some people have naturally brighter enamel than others. Disease can also be a factor and certain medications can cause a discoloration of the teeth. If you suspect that there is an underlying medical cause for your teeth discoloration, be sure to inform your cosmetic dentist.
Who is a candidate for Dental Veneers?
Veneers, porcelain or plastic, are placed over the front teeth to change color shape of the teeth. Veneers are ideal for teeth that are too small, too big, or have uneven surfaces. It is very common for people to have imperfect teeth, either oddly shaped teeth, chipped teeth, crooked teeth, teeth with small holes in them, or an inappropriate sized tooth or teeth that have an odd appearance. Veneers solve such irregularities and create a durable and pleasing smile.
Overview of Tooth Veneers
Often an alternative to crowns, veneers are very thin pieces of specially-shaped porcelain or plastic that are glued over the front of your teeth with little or no anesthesia needed. They are the cure for teeth that are severely discolored, chipped, have small holes or pits, misshapen or crooked, or for the correction of unwanted or uneven spaces. Unlike crowns, veneers won't require the dentist to remove much of the tooth itself in most cases. It is important to ask your cosmetic dentist how much tooth will be removed. In some cases more tooth will need to be removed, which may increase the risk of trauma to the tooth. Veneers are created from an impression taken in your cosmetic dentist's office. Your custom veneer is then glued directly onto your tooth. Typically costing less than crowns, veneers won't stain, making veneers a very popular solution for many people seeking that perfect smile. Strong and very durable, veneers last from ten to fifteen years, and come in colors that will brighten dark teeth without the worry of them changing color.
How are Tooth Veneers Attached to your Tooth?
In your first appointment, it is important to initially discuss with your cosmetic dentist that you will want to "try in" your veneers with temporary cement that is the same color cement as will be used for the permanent attachment. During this "try-in" phase, be sure to look at your veneers in natural light in addition to the office light. Teeth are prepared for veneers by lightly buffing to allow for the small added thickness of the veneer. Veneers are thin like contact lenses, and will usually only need tooth reduction of 0.5mm to 1.0mm. If a drastic change is being made for the result you want, reduction may be 1.0mm to 2.0mm. A mold is taken of the teeth, from which the veneers are modeled after. Temporary veneers will be placed and worn until your permanent veneers are ready. While wearing the temporary veneers, advise your cosmetic dentist of any adjustments or changes you would like made, such as in shape or size. These changes will be translated into your permanent veneers, so good communication between you and your dentist is important in achieving your new smile.
Your dentist places the veneers with water or glycerin on the teeth to verify their perfect fit and the shade or color. The color cannot be changed after the veneers are adhered to your teeth. The tooth is then cleansed with chemicals to achieve a durable bond. Once the glue is between the veneer and your tooth, a light beam is used to harden the glue/cement.
Types of Tooth Veneer Procedures
There are two tooth veneers procedures available that correct discoloration of the teeth by removing the brown and yellow staining. While each work effectively, there are advantages and disadvantages to each procedure dependent upon your objectives and commitment to the processes. The type of procedures available should be discussed with your cosmetic dentist, and they will recommend the most appropriate tooth veneers procedure for you.
Composite Veneer Procedure:
Composite (direct) veneers are usually performed in a single visit to your cosmetic dentist. The procedure is an application of a bond and enamel directly to the tooth's surface.
Porcelain Veneer Procedure:
Porcelain (indirect) veneers are a very thin porcelain material. Usually porcelain veneers require two visits and also require a dental laboratory to create the final tooth restoration piece.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Tooth Veneers
Pros and Cons of Traditional Porcelain Tooth Veneers
Porcelain veneers are common in creating new smiles and smile makeovers. With porcelain veneers, you can have the smile of your dreams in a very short period of time. Typically veneers are difficult to stain, making veneers a very popular solution for many people seeking that perfect smile. Strong and very durable, veneers last from ten to fifteen years, and come in colors that will brighten dark teeth without the worry of them changing color. Veneers are typically done in only two one and a half hour long appointments, and can actually strengthen your tooth.
There is no additional maintenance, other than a follow-up visit to your cosmetic dentist and proper brushing and flossing on a daily basis.
Finally, a whiter smile gives people to whom you are speaking a place to focus on and gives you a friendlier appearance.
It takes roughly a week or two of a period of adjustment to get used to your teeth that have been changed in color, size, spacing and shape. While very little tooth is removed in most cases, there are situations where more tooth must be removed which increases the risk of trauma to the tooth. The amount of tooth to be removed for the veneers should be discussed with your cosmetic dentist beforehand.
It is common to have minor sensitivity after your teeth have been prepared for your veneers while wearing the temporary veneers. Some people can experience a difference in speech, usually pronouncing "s" and "f" sounds. This is corrected through minor adjustments your cosmetic dentist can make to your veneers. Veneers are very reasonable facsimiles of natural teeth, but not perfect replacements for natural teeth. It's common to see slight variations in the color of veneers upon very close inspection, as with natural teeth. It can take up to a month or two before your new smile feels a part of you.
If you suffer from bruxism, clenching or grinding of your teeth, veneers can be damaged, chipped or cracked from this. If you suffer from bruxism, speak with your cosmetic dentist about wearing a mouth guard at night to protect your new smile.