What are veneers and how should you care for them?

The right veneers are a quick way to a beautiful smile, and this treatment is perfect for people with teeth that are stained, chipped or have gaps. But veneers are an irreversible treatment, so having them placed is a big decision. Before you and your dentist decide the procedure is right for you, it's important to have the right information about veneers, their cost and how best to care for them.

What are Veneers?

According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), a veneer is a "thin piece of porcelain used to re-create the natural look of teeth, while also providing strength and resilience comparable to natural tooth enamel." They are custom made to the contour of your teeth and are bonded to the tooth's original enamel during a series of in-office procedures.

Porcelain Veneers

The most commonly used material for veneers are the conventional porcelain veneer, Lumineers and composite resin veneers. Porcelain veneers are preferable for correcting issues of shape or color and can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years. They can cost anywhere from S.R800 to S.R2,000 per tooth depending on what part you live in, which can be a major expense for most consumers, so it's important to know they will need to be replaced eventually.

Placing Veneers

The typical process takes one to two appointments. If the veneer is prefabricated it usually takes one appointment and if the laboratory is creating the veneer it takes two appointments. We will focus on highlighting placement of the porcelain veneer created by the laboratory:

  • Local anesthetia is not usually required when placing veneers. However, depending on the patient's sensitivity, it can be used if needed. The dentist will clean the tooth and determine the correct shade for the veneer. The dentist will remove a very small amount of the enamel of the tooth to provide room to place the veneer on the tooth.
  • An impression of the tooth will be made for the laboratory and a temporary veneer will be placed on the tooth with spot etching in the center of the tooth away from the margins.
  • After the laboratory has delivered the porcelain veneer to your dentist, the temporary veneer is removed, the tooth is cleaned with pumice and water. The veneer is then etched, rinsed thoroughly with water and air dried. The adhesive is placed on the preparation and then the cement and the veneer is placed for exact fit and contour.
  • The veneer is then light cured for 60 seconds on all surfaces of it to attach it to the tooth structure.
  • Your dentist will remove any excess material and polish the margins of the veneer.
  • Many dentists will schedule a follow-up visit to check for comfort; a comfortable veneer will be a long-lasting veneer.

    Care for Veneers

    The AACD suggests brushing and flossing just as you would your regular teeth. Proper daily brushing, and use of non-abrasive fluoride toothpaste. Consider limiting coffee and other stain-inducing foods.
    Keep in mind that veneers will need to be replaced at some point, no matter how well you take care of them. But proper oral hygiene will help them last as long as possible.

    So, what are the Pros and Cons of dental veneers? Dental veneers are cemented to the front surfaces of your natural teeth, and are an easy way to address a variety of physical and aesthetic problems. Because they're also permanent, however, you'll need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of the procedure before you decide to get them. Here are six things to think about and discuss with your dentist.

    Pro #1: Easily Whiten Your Smile

    Years of drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes or eating highly pigmented foods eventually take their toll on your teeth, turning them an unattractive shade of yellow or brown. Stained enamel can be bleached at home or by your dentist, but it can become stained again. If you're looking for an easier way to whiten your smile for good, dental veneers may be a good fit for you. Veneers are largely stain-resistant, so you won't have to worry about discoloration or needing to have your veneers whitened.

    Pro #2: Fix Minor Cosmetic Problems

    Slightly crooked or gapped teeth can be treated with braces or other orthodontic treatments, but according to Dentistry Today, these problems can sometimes be helped with veneers as well. Veneers are attached to the front surfaces of your teeth – so although they don't change their positions, they do camouflage minor orthodontic problems once they're applied. Your natural teeth may still be gapped or crooked, but nobody will know aside from you and your dentist.
    It's important to note that veneers can't always replace orthodontic treatment, and your dentist may refer you to an orthodontist instead of placing veneers.

    Pro #3: Replace Damaged Enamel

    Enamel is strong, but not indestructible. Your enamel may still be worn down from overzealous tooth brushing or eaten away by highly acidic foods and drinks. The stomach acid associated with acid reflux disease can also damage your enamel. This can become a cause for concern, because lost enamel doesn't grow back. Fortunately, it can be replaced. Veneers are an excellent treatment for teeth with enamel abrasion or enamel erosion, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and are aesthetically pleasing at the same time.

    Con #1: High Cost

    The price of veneers will vary based on your location, your dentist and the number of teeth you want restored, but one thing is for sure: They are often expensive.

    Con #2: Increased Sensitivity

    Some people experience an increase in tooth sensitivity after getting veneers. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, you may feel sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures for the first few days after your procedure, but it usually goes away. Tooth sensitivity is uncomfortable and inconvenient, but you can manage it with any toothpaste for sensitive teeth.

    Con #3: Irreversible Procedure

    Veneers are considered permanent because your dentist needs to change the structure of your natural teeth to properly place them. In this way, the outer layer of your enamel may be removed to make room.
    Dental veneers are an excellent way to hide discolored, crooked or damaged teeth, but it's important to weigh the pros and cons that come with the territory before getting them.

    Standard Vs. Prepless Veneers

    Prepless veneers are thin layers of porcelain or other very strong ceramic-like materials that can be applied to the surface of teeth, much in the same way as acrylic nails are bonded to the fingernails. The term "prepless" means that these veneers generally require very little, if any, alteration to the existing tooth structure. These veneers are intended to strengthen teeth and improve the appearance of your smile. They can be used to change the color, size, shape and apparent angulation of the teeth. All veneers, wither prepless or standard, should be fabricated by a licensed dental technician.

    Indications of Veneers

    Veneers may be recommended as a good option if your teeth are:

  • Discolored or stained.
  • Have spaces between them or are slightly crowded.
  • Are chipped, cracked or broken.
  • Have suffered from excessive wear.
  • Contraindications of Veneers

    A dentist will typically advise against veneers if a patient's teeth are severely broken down and there is not enough material remaining to support them, or if the teeth are so crowded that orthodontic treatment (braces) is needed to first put them in a position where they can be restored.

    Prepless vs. Standard Veneers

    Veneers must always be supported by the underlying tooth structure, and since enamel (the outer layer of a tooth) is much stronger than the dentin (the inner substance of a tooth) it is always the dentist's desire to bond veneers to enamel. Bonded this way, they are much stronger and more durable. In addition, even though veneers can be quite thin — as thin as 0.4 mm, in places — there needs to be adequate room for the material so that the restored teeth do not appear bulky. Prepless veneers need to meet certain additional criteria if this technique is to be considered:

  • Teeth should ideally be slightly "retroclined" (located more toward the palate or tongue as opposed to the cheeks) to allow enough room for the veneer.
  • Discoloration should not be so severe the porcelain cannot cover it.
  • Teeth need to be shaped to allow enough space between them.
  • There must be enough room on the incisal or biting surfaces of the teeth for both bite strength and aesthetics.

  • For all these reasons, the majority of teeth need some minimal preparation in order to achieve a good aesthetic and functional result. It's also important to have a clear line of demarcation between the tooth and margin of the restorative material to make a smooth "finish line." This helps make it easier to keep your new smile clean and thus prevent additional staining and irritation to the gum.

    It's always best to consult with your dentist to determine if you are a good candidate for veneers and what your options are. A beautiful smile feels great and can increase both your confidence and well-being.