What Are Dental Veneers?

Sometimes called “porcelain veneers” or “dental porcelain laminates,” dental veneers are thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials that are designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve appearance. These wafer-thin shells are bonded to the front of the teeth, changing their shape, color, size or length.

Dental veneers can be made from porcelain or from resin composite materials. Porcelain veneers resist stains more efficiently than resin veneers and better mimic the light-reflecting properties of natural teeth. Resin veneers are thinner and require removal of less of the tooth surface before placement. Patients should discuss the best choice of veneer material with their dentist. Veneers work well when:

  • Teeth have become worn down.
  • Teeth have been discolored by root canal treatment, excessive fluoride, stains from large resin fillings, or tetracycline and other drugs.
  • Teeth are misaligned, uneven or irregularly shaped.
  • Teeth have gaps between them.
  • Teeth are chipped or broken.

How Are Veneers Applied?

Consultation — A veneer treatment normally comprises a consultation with two follow-ups.

Treatment planning — A patient’s teeth are examined to ensure dental veneers are the appropriate choice. The strengths and limitations of veneers are explained. An impression of the mouth and teeth X-rays are made.

Preparation — A thin layer of enamel is removed from the tooth surface accompanied by a local anesthetic if desired. An impression or model is made of the teeth for a laboratory to use in designing the veneer.

Bonding — To prepare teeth for bonding, they are cleaned, polished and etched. Chemicals in the cement harden very quickly because of a special light beam. The bite is evaluated, and final adjustments made.

Follow-up — A follow-up visit is often needed to check if gums are responding well to the veneers.

Do I Need to Know Anything Else?

During an initial consultation, Dr. Karas and his staff make sure a patient knows that this process is not reversible. If a person tends to clench or grind their teeth, veneers are not for him.

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