May often have patients who visit us as they are embarrassed of their smiles. This is often due to their teeth being discoloured, slightly misaligned or chipped and cracked. People often assume that major dental work will be needed to fix these issues when in fact veneers may be the best option.

A veneer is an ultra-thin layer of material that is placed over a tooth to improve it appearance or functionality. A veneer can be made from porcelain or composite materials, both of which will blend in seamlessly with your other teeth.

How are veneers applied?

To begin with your dentist will need to prepare the teeth that will be receiving the veneers. This will normally involve removing a thin layer of the tooth surface (less than 1mm), which will allow for the veneer to sit flush with the rest of your teeth. Depending on the amount of tooth that needs to be buffed away, a local anaesthetic may be used during this part of the preparation.

If you opt for porcelain veneers, your dentist will then take an impression of your newly resized teeth. This impression, along with colour and size specifications, will then be sent to a dental lab where the individual veneers will be custom made. This process can take up to two weeks. Once the veneers are ready you will return to the practice to have them placed. Before they are placed your dentist will check that they are the correct size and colour and that the blend in with your other teeth, providing a natural finish. The tooth will then be cleaned with chemicals and the veneer cemented into place.

Meanwhile composite veneers can be placed in the one appointment. This involves tooth-coloured composite resin being sculpted onto the tooth by your dentist and then beamed with light to harden each layer. When the ideal shape is achieved, the surface is then polished to give the veneer a natural look.

Porcelain or composite veneers?

The answer to this question will differ for all patients to due a number of reasons including cost, time, and desired results.

Porcelain veneers are often associated with a Hollywood smile are they are custom fit, often providing patients with a beautiful smile. They are also beneficial as they are long-lasting and stain resistant. While porcelain veneers are very durable, if they do happen to crack the whole veneer will need to be removed and replaced which can be costly. Also, as they are custom-fit, they need to be manufactured off-site and can take a few weeks to complete.

On the other hand, composite veneers can be completed in one appointment and are significantly less expensive than porcelain. Most chips and cracks can also be repaired with additional composite resin, rather than having to replace the whole veneer. However it is important to note that composite veneers are not as strong as their porcelain counterpart, require replacing more frequently and are not stain resistant.

After your veneers are attached

It is important to maintain good oral hygiene to ensure the longevity of your veneers. It may take a short time to get use to your new size and shape of your teeth. It is recommended that a follow-up appointment is scheduled two weeks after your veneers are applied so that you dentist can check that everything is going ok with them.

Am I a suitable candidate for veneers?

Fortunately, most people are suitable candidates for dental veneers. It is important to note that dental veneers are a cosmetic process, not an orthodontic or corrective solution. Veneers will not correct badly misaligned teeth or jaw alignment issues such as underbite or overbite. If you suffer from teeth grinding (bruxism), veneers will not be a suitable option as teeth grinding can cause veneers to chip or even completely separate from the tooth. Ultimately, it will be your dentists that will assess your suitability to dental veneers.

How long will veneers last?

Veneers will generally last up to ten years and possibly much longer. To ensure they last, you must maintain consistent and good oral hygiene. Regular check-ups should be maintained, twice yearly. You must take caution when using your veneered-lined if you have bad habits such as chewing pens, crunching ice or rip open plastic bags with your teeth.

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