What Are Dental Veneers?

Corrective cosmetic dentistry is important not only for quality of life, but also to protect unaffected teeth from additional damage from their neighbors. Even apparently minor issues like gaps between teeth, small missing chips, or heavily worn enamel can increase the likelihood of gathering plaque and small bits of food.

If you're suffering from wear, chips, or any other form of damage to your teeth that requires correction, your dentist may present porcelain veneers as one potential option over full replacement of the teeth in question. Take a moment to understand what these are, and who may be a candidate for the procedure:

Are veneers just false teeth?

Dental veneers are thin shells – usually made of porcelain or a composite resin – that can be bonded to the surface of a damaged tooth, adding to their strength and resilience while also restoring a natural appearance. While more extreme damages may warrant the replacement of a tooth with an implanted fake, veneers offer a less extreme solution that allows the bulk of the original tooth to be maintained.

Are veneers an option for me?

The best way to answer this question is by speaking with your dentist, as individual cases may vary and full replacement may be a more viable answer. That said, some common issues that veneers can often resolve include:

  • Chipped, cracked, or otherwise broken teeth
  • Heavy wear and/or discoloration to the tooth's surface
  • Slightly uneven or misaligned teeth

To be eligible for veneers, patients must also have good overall oral health, including a sufficient amount of healthy enamel (dentists often need to remove a small quantity during the placement process), and be committed to maintaining good hygiene afterwards.

How are veneers applied?

The process is relatively minor (compared to the alternative of having a tooth extracted and an implant surgically placed in the gums), but often requires several visits to your dentist's office.

Treatment will begin with an initial diagnosis and consultation, where the two of you will determine cosmetic goals and the viability of having veneers placed. In a followup appointment, the preparation begins as the tooth/teeth in question is/are lightly buffed – this ensures an even surface and one with enough room to accommodate the thickness of the veneer. If a resin veneer is being used, it can typically be applied immediately afterward; however, for ceramic veneers it will be necessary to take impressions at this point and have them sent to a laboratory.

When the ceramic veneers are complete, a final visit will see them applied and bonded to the surface of the tooth or teeth with special dental cement.