Tooth veneers are customised, wafer-thin tooth shells made from porcelain, ceramic or composite resin material, which resemble natural tooth appearance. They are used to cover the front surface of the tooth, improving their appearance in shape, size or colour. Your dentist should advise you regarding the best material to use for your own veneers, since each material has its upsides and downsides.
Who can use dental veneers?
Dental veneers are ideal for fixing the following:
- Discoloured teeth, such as after root canal procedures, permanent staining (e.g. tetracycline and fluoride staining) and large resin fillings which cause discolouration
- Teeth weakened/worn down by decay or root canal procedures
- Chipped/broken teeth
- Irregularly-shaped, misaligned, or otherwise uneven teeth
- Gappy teeth (to seal the gap)
Cosmetic procedure for installing dental veneers
To get your dental veneers, you will make three trips to the dentist. You can have veneering done on one or more teeth simultaneously. The following is an outline for the procedure at each of the visits:
During this visit, your dentist will determine exactly what you hope to have achieved by the end of the veneering process. The dentist will inspect your teeth to determine whether veneers can correct your teeth and describe the procedure as well as its limitations. He/she may also make impressions and/or take x-rays of your teeth.
Priming the tooth for a veneer involves removal of approximately 0.5mm of tooth enamel, similar to the thickness of veneer to be applied on the tooth. Prior to this, you will be given a local anaesthetic to numb the area.
During this visit, the dentist also makes an impression/model of your tooth to send to the dental lab for construction of your custom veneer(s), a process that can take about 2 weeks. You can choose to have temporary veneers in the meantime at extra cost if your teeth are completely unsightly.
The dentist will temporarily place the veneers to test for colour and fit before fixing them permanently. He/she will then test and trim the veneer as many times as necessary to obtain the perfect fit. Colour can be changed by selecting the right colour of cement. He/she then cleans, polishes and etches the tooth/teeth to be veneered in preparation. This roughens the surface of the tooth to enable stronger bonding.
Bonding cement will then be applied on the veneer which is then fixed to your tooth surface. When positioned properly, the dentist shines a special light beam which activates the cement, making it cure faster. Finally, excess cement is removed and any necessary adjustments are made. You may be asked to return for check-up in two or so weeks to inspect your gum's response to the veneer.
Typically, veneers last for approximately 10 years or even more after which they need replacement. They have no special care requirements apart from the proper hygiene practices you would follow for natural teeth. However, take care to avoid beverages that can cause staining, e.g. red wine, tea and coffee. Alternatively, rinse with plenty of water after taking these beverages.