What is a veneer?
A veneer is a thin layer of porcelain made to fit over the front surface of a tooth, like a false fingernail fits over a nail.
When would I need a veneer?
A veneer can make a chipped tooth look intact again. They can also be used to close small gaps when orthodontics (braces) is not suitable or desirable. Veneers can improve the colour, shape and position of your teeth. A precise shade of porcelain can be chosen to give the right colour to improve a single discoloured tooth or to lighten front teeth. The porcelain covers the whole of the front of the tooth with a thicker section replacing the broken part. If one tooth is slightly out of position, a veneer can sometimes be fitted to bring it into line with the others.
What are the advantages of veneers?
Because veneers are very thin and are held in place by a special strong bond they look very natural.
How are teeth prepared for veneers?
A local anaesthetic (injection) may be used to make sure that there is no discomfort, but often this is not necessary. Some of the shiny outer enamel surface of the tooth may be removed, to make sure that the veneer can be bonded permanently in place later. The amount of enamel removed is minimal and will be the same as the thickness of the veneer to be fitted, so that the tooth stays the same size. Once the tooth has been prepared, the dentist will take an ‘impression’ (mould). This will be given to the dental technician, along with any other information needed to make the veneer. The colour of the surrounding teeth is matched on a shade guide to make sure that the veneer will look entirely natural.
How long will it take?
A veneer is a two visit procedure: the first to prepare the tooth and to match the shade, and the second to fit it. Your dentist will show you the veneer on your tooth to make sure you are happy with it before bonding it in place. Bonding a veneer is done with a special adhesive, which holds it firmly on the tooth.
Will I need a temporary veneer between visits?
Not always. Because the preparation of the tooth is so slight you will probably not need a temporary veneer. The tooth will look very much the same after preparation, but will feel slightly less smooth.
What about alternatives?
A natural-coloured filling material can be used for minor repairs to front teeth. This is excellent where the tooth supports the filling, but may not work so well for broken tooth corners. There will always be a join between the tooth and the filling material. Crowns are used for teeth which need to be strengthened – either because they have broken, have been weakened by a very large filling, or have had root canal treatment. Your dentist will discuss any alternative treatments with you before treatment commences.