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Veneers

Description

A veneer is a thin, tooth-colored laminate applied to the front surface of teeth that restores the natural appearance of stained, chipped, decayed or crooked teeth. Veneers may be a viable alternative to more invasive procedures such as crowns or dental implants.

When placing veneers, dentists usually remove a small amount of your natural tooth enamel, so placing them cannot always be reversed. Veneers are made of durable materials that can last decades if they are properly placed and maintained.

There are two types of veneers:

  • Indirect veneers are essentially a shell that fits over and adheres to your teeth. They are made of porcelain (ceramic) or composite resin and produced in a dental lab from molds your dentist will take after they have prepared your teeth for the veneer. The veneer is placed at a second appointment.
  • Direct veneers are made of composite resin and are applied directly onto your prepared teeth by your dentist. They are generally placed in a single visit. They can be more challenging for a dentist to apply than an indirect veneer, but generally, they require less enamel to be removed from your natural teeth.

You should discuss all options with your dentist before determining the type of veneer or other dental procedure that best meets your needs and budget.

When considering veneers, it's important that you have one or more consultations with your dentist. These consultations will help your dentist understand your goals and preferences. It will also allow them the opportunity to describe the risks, complexity, time involved, and costs associated with your treatment alternatives.

The steps below outline the typical process for indirect veneers. Some of the steps may not be necessary for direct veneers since your dentist determines the shade and shape, sculpts, and bonds the veneers onto your tooth in a single visit.

Before the procedure

  • Review your health status: You will share your health history and current health status to ensure that your dentist and their staff provide safe and effective treatment and appropriate post-care directions.
  • Antibiotics: Based on your health history, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics that you will take prior to your appointment(s) for preparing and placing your veneers.
  • Anti-anxiety medication: If you are anxious about dental procedures, your dentist may recommend sedation.

During the first visit

  • Anesthetic: Teeth that will receive veneers are numbed by injecting a local anesthetic around the nerve or nerves that supply sensation to the teeth. A topical numbing gel may be applied to the site to help reduce discomfort from the injection.
  • Pre-impression: Your dentist will typically take a preliminary impression ("mold") of your teeth before they are prepared to place your veneers. This allows your dentist to prepare temporary veneers for your teeth while the final veneers are being made in a dental lab.
  • Shade matching: Before your dentist begins to isolate and prepare your teeth for veneers, they will use a shade guide to ensure the color of your veneers match your natural teeth. If you have recently bleached or whitened your teeth, it's a good idea to wait a few days before having your dentist match the shade.
  • Tooth isolation: While other methods may be used, your teeth will usually be isolated from your tongue and cheeks with a barrier known as a "rubber dam." This helps reduce moisture around the teeth and prevents injury to soft tissues in your mouth.
  • Veneer preparation: Your dentist will use a variety of instruments to prepare the surfaces of your teeth to make room for the veneer and provide a "ledge" at each gum line where the veneers can be tightly sealed. There are other options to traditional preparation that are "minimally invasive" and result in little to no tooth structure removal. With these alternatives, local anesthesia and temporary veneers may be unnecessary.
  • Impressions: Your dentist will make an impression of the prepared teeth and the teeth that bite against them. They may also make a record of how the teeth fit together.
  • Temporary veneers: For indirect veneers, the pre-impression will be used to make temporary veneers. Temporary veneers are made by filling the pre-impression with tooth-colored resin and placing it over your prepared teeth. The resin material gels in about one minute and the impression is then removed. The space between the prepared tooth and the pre-impression is filled with temporary veneer material, which completely hardens in another minute or two. Once hardened, the temporary veneer is trimmed to fit properly, polished, and fitted onto your teeth with temporary cement. Temporary veneers being placed on multiple, adjacent teeth may need to be splinted together (i.e., all one piece) in order to stay reliably on your teeth.
  • Veneer production: The impressions of your prepared teeth are sent to a dental lab to produce your veneers. This can take up to two weeks.

During the second visit

  • Placing your permanent veneers: When your final veneers are ready, your dentist will remove and replace the temporary veneers with permanent ones. Using local anesthesia can help to avoid the discomfort associated with removing the temporary veneers, cleaning the temporary cement from the prepared teeth, and bonding on the permanent veneers.
  • Adjusting and polishing: Once your dentist has placed your permanent veneers, adjustments and repolishing may be required to ensure your bite relationship is correct. This typically takes only a couple of minutes.

Your dentist should explain any risks involved with veneer treatment. You should ask any questions you have before the procedure is started.

  • Drug interactions: Be sure to discuss with your dentist any allergies, medications, or medical conditions you have before beginning treatment. Local anesthetics can interact with some medications you take. They can also have negative side effects if you have certain medical conditions or are allergic to the anesthetic's ingredients.
  • Dental anxiety: Many people experience anxiety when visiting the dentist. Let your dentist or hygienist know if you have any fears about being at the dentist or receiving dental care. If your anxiety is severe, your dentist may recommend sedation.
  • Tooth structure: Preparing a tooth for a veneer typically involves reducing the sides of a tooth and its biting surface. When tooth structure is reduced for any procedure, the tooth may lose some of its strength and long-term durability.
  • Poor adhesion: If a veneer is not properly applied, it may not adhere as well as desired, which can lead to tooth sensitivity, decay, or staining.
  • Failure: Although rare, veneers may cause inflammation, tooth sensitivity, or infection. They can also chip, fall off, and be lost or swallowed, requiring replacement.
  • Cost: Veneers, especially those produced in a dental lab, can often be more expensive than other alternative procedures. For example, veneers may be more expensive than some crowns. In some cases, direct veneers may be more expensive than indirect veneers since they require more time and labor to complete.
  • Maintenance: Your dentist may recommend that you reduce or eliminate some foods, beverages, and habits that can stain or discolor your veneers, such as smoking, drinking coffee, tea, or red wine.
  • If your objective in pursuing veneers is purely cosmetic, professional tooth whitening may be a cost-effective alternative that does not alter the shape or structure of your teeth.
  • For teeth that have decay or fillings, crowns may be a good alternative to veneers.
  • Orthodontics could be a better solution if the shape, shade, and proportions of your teeth are good, but alignment is your primary concern. For some patients, orthodontia may be combined with veneers to produce the best result. This approach may help reduce the number of teeth that require veneers.
  • There are no negative health consequences of deciding to delay a cosmetic veneer.
  • If a veneer intended to treat a broken, decayed, chipped, or cracked tooth is delayed, the tooth could break apart further. This could make it difficult for the dentist to save the tooth or require the dentist to perform additional dental procedures such as root canal therapy, crowns, or extraction.
  • Are veneers the best option to meet my goals?
  • How many of my teeth need veneers?
  • If my tooth decay is severe, will veneers correct the issue, or is another treatment a better choice?
  • How often do you apply direct veneers? What feedback have you received from your patients?
  • If I am only considering veneers because my teeth are not aligned, are orthodontics a less invasive option than veneers?
  • How well can you match the color of my other teeth? Do you perform resin mockups that can show the tooth shade and shape I'm hoping for?
  • Should I get a second opinion on the number of teeth and the proper treatment to correct my issues?
  • What steps should I take to ensure my veneers don't become stained and last for a long time?

Author: Symbyos staff, Fluent staff
Last updated: 8/26/2021Medical review: Thomas J. Greany DDS, 8/13/2021
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