Dental veneers (sometimes called porcelain veneers or dental porcelain laminates) are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve your appearance. These shells are bonded to the front of the teeth changing their color, shape, size, or length.
Veneers are routinely used to fix
- Teeth that are discolored – either because of root canal treatment; stains from tetracycline or other drugs, excessive fluoride or other causes; or the presence of large resin fillings that have discolored the tooth
- Teeth that are worn down
- Teeth that are chipped or broken
- Teeth that are misaligned, uneven, or irregularly shaped (for example, have craters or bulges in them)
- Teeth with gaps between them (to close the space between these teeth)
Composite veneers or porcelain veneers?
The most popular type of veneers is porcelain, which offers a stronger and more durable alternative to its composite counterpart. Composite veneers are also more prone to staining and do not last as long as porcelain veneers. Porcelain veneers also offer a more natural looking, translucent appearance. Composite veneers are much cheaper than porcelain veneers in general, but considering that they do not last as long and need replacing more often, they could end up costing more in the long run. Composite work is ideal for small chips, as this treatment preserves more of your natural tooth structure. Porcelain veneers will typically last between five and ten years, while composite veneers last a year or two at most.
Advantages of dental veneers
- They provide a natural tooth appearance.
- Gum tissue tolerates porcelain well.
- Porcelain veneers are stain resistant.
- The color of a porcelain veneer can be selected such that it makes dark teeth appear whiter.
- Veneers offer a stronger, more aesthetic alternative to bonding.
Disadvantages of dental veneers
- The process is not reversible.
- Because enamel has been removed, your tooth may become more sensitive to hot and cold foods and beverages.
- Veneers may not exactly match the color of your other teeth. Also, the veneer’s color cannot be altered once in place. If you plan on whitening your teeth, you need to do so before getting veneers.
- Teeth with veneers can still experience decay, possibly necessitating full coverage of the tooth with a crown.
- Veneers are not a good choice for individuals with unhealthy teeth (for example, those with decay or active periodontal disease), weakened teeth (as a result of decay, fracture, large dental fillings) or for those who have an inadequate amount of existing enamel on the tooth surface.