A veneer is a thin layer of porcelain made to fit over the front surface of a tooth, in much the same way as a false fingernail.
Q. What are the advantages of veneers?
A. Veneers make teeth look natural and healthy, and because they are very thin and are held in place by a special strong bond (rather like superglue) very little preparation of the tooth is necessary.
Q. When would I need a veneer?
A. Veneers can improve the colour, shape, and position of teeth. A precise shade of porcelain can be chosen to give the required colour, to improve a single discoloured or stained tooth, or to lighten front teeth (usually the upper ones) generally. Veneers can also be used to close small gaps or, if one tooth is slightly out of position, a veneer can sometimes be fitted to bring it into line with the others if orthodontics is not acceptable.
Q. What about alternatives?
A. Natural coloured filling material can be used for minor repairs to front teeth. This type of restoration is excellent where the tooth supports the filling, but may not work so well for broken tooth corners. There will always be a join between the tooth and the filling material. Crowns are used for teeth which need to be strengthened – whether because they have broken, have been weakened by a very large filling, have had root canal treatment, or the patient grinds their teeth.
Q. How long will a veneer last?
A. Veneers should last for many years, but they can chip or break, just as your own teeth can. Small chips can be repaired, or a new veneer fitted if necessary. They may not be suitable for people who grind their teeth excessively.
Q. How are teeth prepared for a veneer?
A. Some of the shiny outer enamel surface of the tooth may be removed, to ensure that the veneer will not feel ‘bulky’ to the lips when it is bonded permanently in place. The amount of enamel to be removed is minimal and will be the same as the thickness of the veneer to be fitted, so that the tooth remains the same size. Once the tooth has been prepared, the dentist will take an ‘impression’. This will be given to our highly skilled technician, Atsu, along with any other information needed for him to make the veneer. The colour of the surrounding teeth is carefully recorded and matched on a shade guide by Atsu to make sure that the veneer will look entirely natural.
Q. How long will it take?
A. A veneer takes at least two visits; the first to prepare the tooth and to match the shade, and the second to fit it. Bonding a veneer in place is done with a special adhesive, which holds it firmly on the tooth.
Q. Will I need a temporary veneer between visits?
A. Because the preparation of the tooth is minimal, you will probably not need a temporary veneer. The tooth will look very much the same after preparation, but will feel slightly less smooth.