An A-list favourite, veneers offer a permanent solution to a less-than-perfect smile. Usually made out of porcelain, veneers are custom made to sit over your own teeth to completely transform your smile. They can be used to correct individual problem teeth or to perform a total smile makeover. If you have gaps in your teeth, crooked teeth, stained or discoloured teeth, or are simply not happy with the size and shape of your teeth then veneers could be the answer. Many celebrities have had veneers to give them a more beautiful smile – however they do come with a celebrity price tag. The process can take a few weeks as your new teeth will need to be made and fitted in separate appointments. You should also be aware that your dentist will need to file down your real teeth in order to fit the veneers so there is no going back. Having veneers is a big commitment, so ensure you have thought it through and had a thorough consultation with a dentist before embarking on treatment.
While porcelain veneers are one of the most effective cosmetic dentistry treatments, they are not for everyone, especially as they are irreversible and involve the removal of part of the tooth structure. You should make sure you find an experienced cosmetic dentist to help determine whether or not you are a suitable candidate for veneers. The ideal candidate should have good dental health and realistic expectations of what the treatment can achieve. Certain dental health issues such as extensive tooth decay, gingivitis or gum disease, severe misalignment, major cracks in the teeth and chronic teeth grinding may make you unsuitable for veneers. It can take some time to adjust to your new teeth so make sure you have a thorough consultation with a dentist to make sure you fully understand the treatment process before going ahead.
Nowadays veneers can look very natural, as the thin porcelain very closely resembles natural tooth enamel. This is because, much like real tooth enamel, porcelain veneers are translucent. When light strikes a natural tooth’s surface, it is not immediately reflected off. Instead, it penetrates the tooth enamel and reflects off the opaque tooth dentin that lies just beneath. This translucent effect is what gives teeth their lustre. By replicating this, porcelain dental veneers provide patients with bright, natural looking smiles.
Porcelain veneers will typically last between five to 10 years and composite veneers maybe a year or two at the most. The bottom line is that eventually your veneers will need to be replaced. Although veneers are strongly cemented into place they have been cases where they come loose and fall off, in such situations it is important that you keep hold of your veneer and contact your dentist immediately. To make your veneers last longer it is important to follow a good oral hygiene program and also visit your dentist for check-ups on a regular basis.
Because having veneers is a big commitment, it is very important to have a thorough consultation with a dentist. During your consultation the dentist will talk to you about the risks and benefits of the treatment and assess whether you are a suitable candidate. They will then help you decide on what size, shape and colour of veneers will best suit your face and features. They can also discuss with you what other options are available and whether they would help you achieve your goals without the need for veneers.
It is a good idea to ask the dentist if you can see examples of their work. To help you in your decision process some dentists provide cosmetic digital imaging, which allows you to see what your teeth may look like after your procedure. This is only meant to serve as a guide and it is important to remember that the end result is likely to differ slightly.
Some dentists also use a ‘dental mock up’, which is temporarily attached to your teeth to give you an idea of what your new smile may look like. This is particularly useful if you’re having quite dramatic changes made to your teeth. The dental mock up can then be used as a blueprint for your permanent new teeth.
Once you have decided to opt for veneers you have to remember that there is no going back, as the vast majority of dental veneers will require some tooth tissue to be removed to allow room for them to be placed.
The whole procedure can take some time from beginning to end. Some dentists are now able to make your veneers in their clinic so you do not need to wear temporary ones, but in most cases you will need to come back to your dentist for a couple of appointments before your treatment is complete.
One appointment will be needed to make an impression of your mouth. Your dentist will then reshape and prepare the surfaces of your teeth before they design your veneers to ensure they fit properly. First, the dentist will proceed to numbing your teeth and gums using a local anaesthetic to ensure you are comfortable during the procedure. The dentist will then file away a tiny amount of the front surface of your teeth using a special drill. The amount removed should be equivalent to the thickness of the veneer that will sit over the top surface of the tooth.
It takes between two and three weeks to make your new teeth, so usually temporary veneers are put in place. You will then need to come back to have your new veneers fitted. Once the dentist is happy with the way the veneers look, they will then proceed to thoroughly clean and etch or roughen the front surfaces of your teeth. Your veneers will then be positioned and cemented into place using a curing light to help activate the dental cement so that it permanently bonds the veneer to the front surface of your prepared tooth. Once the teeth are polished and the smile transformation is complete, you can leave the dentist’s office with a brand new, beautiful smile.