What are veneers (aka porcelain veneers, laminates)?
Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain or resin material that gets bonded (glued) to the front of your teeth. For teeth that are chipped, severely discolored, crowded, spaced, rotated or misshaped in any way, these veneers can create a durable and beautiful smile for many years to come. Veneers are difficult to stain, making them popular for people seeking a perfect smile.
There are two types of veneers:
- Porcelain (indirect) veneers, which must first be created to custom fit your teeth in a dental laboratory and require two visits with your dentist. Porcelain veneers may vary in price from $900-$2,500 per tooth and last from 10 to 15 years or more. While more expensive than other alternatives, porcelain veneers usually offer a more precise, realistic color match to your surrounding teeth.
- Composite (direct) veneers, in which composite resins are bonded to your tooth in a single visit. Composite veneers cost significantly less, around $250-400 per tooth, but usually need to be maintained or replaced sooner than the porcelain version.
What is involved with getting veneers?
Your dentist must first determine if you are a good candidate for veneers, by taking all the necessary diagnostic records (such as impressions, bite registration, digital photographs, x-rays, etc.) Your original models of your teeth should then be built up in wax to ideal esthetics to see what could be accomplished with the porcelain and how much tooth structure would need to be reduced in order to achieve this ideal wax-up version. Then local anesthetic injections are given, the teeth are prepared, impressions are taken, and temporaries are made. There is an advantage to having temporaries made, and that is the patient has a chance to take this crude version of their final restorations on a test run to see if they are comfortable when speaking, smiling and speaking. If they are not, they have the ability to have them adjusted and modified before the final ones are made. Within a couple of weeks the veneers are bonded onto the prepared teeth, and polished and adjusted.
I am over 30 years old and have crowded and crooked front teeth. Is there a way to fix them without having to wear braces?
Yes, there are a few ways to correct your smile without having to wear braces or retainers. Among your options are Porcelain Veneers, Teeth Bonding and Enamel Shaping. In mild cases of teeth crowding, the more conservative approach is Enamel Shaping, which involves modifying the shape of your teeth by removing or contouring enamel (the hard, white outer layer of a tooth) to create the illusion that your teeth are more balanced in their appearance. This process does not require anesthesia, and the results are noticeable immediately. Keep in mind that the removal of enamel is an irreversible process, and may also require additional bonding to enhance the appearance of your teeth. Porcelain Laminate Veneers, in my opinion, are the restoration of choice to correct poorly shaped or slightly crooked teeth for those individuals who do not wish to experience orthodontics. Veneers are thin, custom-made shells made of tooth-colored materials which are bonded to the prepared teeth to enhance the esthetics of one’s smile. This, too, is an irreversible process because a small amount of enamel is usually removed to accommodate the thickness of the porcelain shell. Veneers are used, with tremendous success, for treating gaps and dark spaces between teeth, for teeth that are stained, and for teeth that are worn or eroded at the gum line due to hard tooth brushing. Many of the actors and entertainment personalities who appear to have “picture perfect” teeth have used veneers as a more permanent way to whiten and straighten their teeth. The procedure usually requires 2 or 3 appointments, and the results will make a dramatic difference in the way you look and feel about yourself.