In the past, significantly improving one’s smile by placement of dental veneers was a luxury only the rich and famous could afford. In recent years, however, advancements in dental technology have made dental veneers an affordable option for many.
Dental veneers are very thin shells of porcelain or composite resin that are bonded to the front of your teeth to improve their appearance. By changing tooth color, shape, and size, and by hiding flaws, veneers provide you with a beautiful, new smile.
Veneers provide significant improvements to teeth that have become:
- worn down
- chipped or broken
- unevenly spaced
At times, veneers will be used in combination with other treatments to address the root causes of these problems.
What to Expect
The process of designing and applying dental veneers can be broken down into three stages:
The planning stage: After informing your dentist of your expectations, he will make a thorough examination of your teeth and work with you to form an appropriate plan of treatment. Initial X-Rays and impressions of your mouth and teeth may be taken at this time.
The preparation stage: You will receive a local anesthetic, after which your dentist will remove a very small layer of tooth enamel (about ½ millimeter). This provides an ideal surface for the veneer to bond properly to your tooth. Next, the dentist will make an impression of your tooth. This impression will be used to form the veneers. Your dentist may construct the veneers himself, or the impressions may be sent to a dental laboratory where a specially trained technician will create them. This part of the process may take between one and two weeks.
The application stage: First, your dentist will place the veneer on your tooth to examine its overall fit. He will make minor adjustments to size, shape and even color to make sure the veneer matches the rest of your teeth. Next, the surface of your tooth is cleaned, polished, and etched. This provides ideal conditions for the veneer to adhere to the tooth. Special, quick-dry cement is applied to permanently bond the veneer to your tooth. Through minor adjustments, your dentist will then fine tune your bite until everything feels normal and natural.
Just like your natural teeth, dental veneers need proper care. Make sure to brush them at least twice a day, and continue to floss daily. Although dental veneers are quite strong, it is a good idea to avoid biting into ice, hard foods or candy. Additionally, you should be careful about how you use your teeth since breakage is a possibility. You may consider a custom mouth-guard a worthwhile investment to protect your new smile.