Veneers are a great option to dramatically improve your smile, as they can cover over chips, cracks, or discolouration of your teeth. Dental veneers are thin tooth-coloured facings that are custom made to fit over your teeth, and made from white composite resin or porcelain. Veneers can result in a significant enhancement of the attractiveness of your smile.
What can veneers can correct?
Veneers are commonly used to correct a wide variety of presentations in the appearance of a patient’s smile, including the following situations:
- Where there are wide spaces or gaps between the teeth.
- The teeth are crooked.
- Teeth which have small chips or visible cracks on the surface of the teeth.
- Teeth have been stained or discoloured in a way that cannot be removed by teeth whitening.
- Where there are existing fillings on the teeth that have become stained and unsightly.
Keep in mind that dental veneers are used to only improve the appearance of the teeth and smile. If there are underlying issues such as severe crowding, overbites or underbites, you may require orthodontic treatment for a more natural and permanent solution.
Different types of veneers
There are two main materials used to make veneers: porcelain and composite resin.
Porcelain veneers are made from ceramics and are highly durable and colour stable, so considered the most aesthetic option of a veneer. Dental ceramics are slightly translucent, allowing them to blend and appear exactly like natural teeth. They are less susceptible to stains due to the smoothness of the ceramic material.
Porcelain veneers last many years once bonded to the tooth, but due to the thin nature of the facings, care must be taken to avoid unnecessary forces which may lead to fracture. This includes nail biting, tooth grinding, biting into hard objects. Broken porcelain veneers cannot be repaired, they must be replaced. So you have to ensure that you care for them properly if you want them to last a long time. Likewise, it is always recommended to maintain a good standard of cleaning to ensure the bond strength and appearance does not degrade over time.
One slight downside to porcelain veneers is that they are custom made by specialised laboratory, so you will have to wait for around 2 weeks while they are fabricated it to your specifications. You will also need a minimum of two visits for the procedure. They also require a thin (usually 0.5-1mm) surface layer of the tooth to be removed to allow space for the veneer to be placed, making them an irreversible procedure.
By comparison, composite veneers are made and placed in the clinic, so you can conveniently get them done in just one visit. Composite resin is also significantly less expensive than porcelain.
Occasionally a small amount of tooth structure is removed to allow the placement of the veneer, but they generally require less removal of healthy tooth structure compared to porcelain veneers. Sometimes you can even place composite veneers with no irreversible tooth removal.
Composite veneers can also look exceptional and are custom placed to resemble the rest of your teeth, but generally do not give quite the same result as porcelain. The plastic resin is microscopically less strong and smooth than ceramic, so more prone to chipping and accumulating stains long term. Repairing or replacing these composite veneers can sometimes be easier (and certainly cheaper) than porcelain veneers.
What does the procedure involve?
Porcelain veneers are fixed typically in two visits. During the first visit, we examine your teeth and discuss your expectations from the procedure. When you choose to proceed, the colour shades for the veneers are selected and the teeth will be prepared for the veneers to be fixed. After the teeth are prepared, an impression is taken so the veneers can be custom-made to perfectly fit the teeth. If required, we place temporary veneers for the two weeks while the permanent ones are prepared in the lab.
During the second visit the permanent veneers are bonded to the prepared teeth. Composite veneers are placed in the same visit as any preparation and are not a two visit procedure, polished to match your other teeth. Porcelain veneers are tried in and checked by the patient and dentist to ensure no changes need to be made before they are permanently fixed to the teeth. Once glued on the veneers are finished!
Further discussion with one of our fantastic dentists is best to determine what sort of veneers may suit your situation best. At Alphington Dental care we pride ourselves on our ability to tailor treatment options to best suit you and your smile.