A bright and even smile is sought by all. Any irregularities in the tooth line or the teeth itself can lead to an uneven smile and it may hurt the confidence and self-esteem of the concerned persons. With the advancements in the field of cosmetic dentistry, it is possible to conceal the minor dental impairments and boost the features of the smile.
Dental veneers are ultra-thin laminates or shells that are fixed onto the enamel to cover the front of the teeth. Enamel is the visible portion of the teeth, which is most prone to the wear and tear of eating, chewing, and drinking. Placement of veneers is a permanent process that gives an enhanced appearance, uniformity, and smoothness in the structure of the teeth, thus also called the “Hollywood teeth”. A veneer may be made to cover from a single tooth to the set of front eight teeth.
Types of veneers
Materially speaking, the laminates are made up of either porcelain or resin-based compounds. Porcelain veneers are the common type; each veneer is custom-made for the tooth. It conceals the underlying defect in the teeth to give it the desired structure with a glossy finish. Moreover these veneers are easy to maintain and last a long time.
Resin-based composite veneers do not require extensive pre-moulding stage, so they are applied in less chair time. But these are less stain-resistant compared to the porcelain ones, less light-reflective, and tend to have a shorter life span.
In the context of the application, there are two types of veneers; the traditional veneers and the “no-prep” ones. Traditional veneers are fixed onto the teeth with a bonding agent, after reshaping and roughening out the tooth enamel. This process is irreversible. It can be painful and may require numbing of the surrounding gums.
No-prep veneers, as the name suggests, are comparatively less invasive and require less tooth preparation before fixing the laminates. And because of these reasons, the no-prep veneers have caught a lot of attention in recent times. They don’t last as long as the traditional veneers but then they also cost almost half the total worth. [READ: What Is Root Canal Treatment & When It Should Be Done?]
What do the veneers fix?
Veneers are commonly applied to fix and improve the appearance of the teeth. The problem can be in the colour, size, shape, or structure of the teeth, or in the distance between the teeth.
1. Discoloured teeth that may be a result of:
• Excessive fluoride,
• Stains from drugs, medicines, food items and beverages,
• Filled cavities,
• Root canal treated teeth,
• And other causes.
2. Teeth structure damaged or worn down by excessive or inappropriate use, it may result in carried, chipped, cracked, or broken tooth/teeth.
3. The teeth may be misaligned, small-sized, or unusual shaped.
4. There may be irregular or too much gap between the teeth.
These laminates are not preferred for teeth that are excessively broken since they have less enamel surface for holding and supporting the veneers. Gum diseases and those who clench and grind their teeth are also considered unsuitable recipients for veneer treatment as that may easily damage the veneers.
The first trip to the dentist is usually for consultation and it enlightens the concerned person with the treatment options available for their teeth. If they opt for the traditional veneers as the treatment, it takes at least two visits for the whole process. The first step is the measurement of the teeth with the help of x-rays and dental impressions; the second step for the application of the laminates. It usually takes 2 to 4 weeks to make the veneers, till that time, the dentist may place temporary fragile veneers on the teeth.
In addition to cleaning and polishing the teeth, the dentist reshapes and roughens the teeth for the best fitting of the veneers. About half of a millimetre of enamel is etched out for the veneer to fit in; this allows better bonding of the veneer to the teeth. The veneer is then checked and adjusted to the tooth before it is permanently fixed. Cement is used to fix the veneer once it attains its perfect and comfortable fitting and a special light beam then hardens the bonding. The last fine-tuning removes the excess cement, rechecks the bite and the veneer placement to give the best results.
The dentist may recommend a follow-up visit to see the status of the veneers and gums.
Pros and Cons
Veneers help provide the teeth with a more natural look. Porcelain is a less irritable foreign material for the gums to react against. It is stain-resistant and more light-reflective, that means it appears brighter and pearly, compared to other options. Porcelain veneers are well enduring and require minimal reshaping.
On the other hand, they do pose some unfavourable effects, if not too many.
It is an irreversible procedure, so it is recommended to weigh it well before opting for it. Since the enamel is etched, it may cause an increased sensitivity to hot and cold foods for sometime or permanently. The colours or shade of veneer may be a little off than the actual teeth, and furthermore, it is unalterable once it is fixed to the teeth. So, it is also suggested to decide earlier in the procedure if a brighter shade is desired. Lastly, porcelain veneers can have a heavy impact on your pocket.
Veneer care and cost
Research shows that porcelain veneers can last from7 to 14 years, with high survival and low failure. The best results are seen with better bonding and fewer teeth damaging habits, like grinding or chewing ice. A single tooth veneer can cost about 1000 to 2000 dollars and it is usually not covered by insurance. The no-prep veneers last up to 7 years maximum and cost around 800-1500 dollars per tooth.
Routine care is sufficient for veneers, which includes brushing, flossing, rinsing with mouthwash as regularly done. Avoiding teeth-staining beverages and foods is also recommended. Teeth decay is unaffected by veneers, so it is possible to progress to the need for crown later in life.
Crowns, bonding, and implants are all alternatives to the veneers. Veneers fall in-between the crown and bonding, in terms of invasion. Bonding is less invasive and crowns are more invasive, and an implant is the complete replacement of the tooth.
Dental veneers are a big part of cosmetic dentistry. They fundamentally improve the aesthetic factor of a person’s smile. While different veneers or laminates of different materials are available, porcelain veneers give the best results in terms of covering the colour, shape, size, gap, and position of tooth/teeth. It may be costly, but it lasts a long period, requires least extra maintenance, and is an investment to give a confident smile.