What is a veneer?
A veneer is a thin layer of porcelain made to fit over the front surface of a tooth, like a false fingernail fits over a nail. Sometimes a natural colour ‘composite’ material is used instead of porcelain.
When would I need a veneer?
Veneers can improve the colour, shape and position of your teeth. A precise shade of porcelain can be chosen to give the right colour to improve a single discoloured tooth or to lighten front teeth. A veneer can make a chipped tooth look intact again. The porcelain covers the whole of the front of the tooth with a thicker section replacing the broken part. Veneers can also be used to close small gaps, when orthodontics (braces) is not suitable or desirable. If one tooth is slightly out of position, a veneer can sometimes be fitted to bring it into line with the others.
What are the advantages of veneers?
Veneers make teeth look natural and healthy. Because they are very thin and are held in place by a special strong bond with very little or no reduction of the tooth is needed.
How are teeth prepared for a veneer?
Some of the shiny outer enamel surface of the tooth may be removed, to make sure that the veneer can be bonded permanently in place later. The amount of enamel removed is tiny and will be the same as the thickness of the veneer to be fitted, so that the tooth stays the same size. A local anaesthetic (injection) may be used to make sure that there is no discomfort. Once the tooth has been prepared, the dentist will take an ‘impression’ (mould). This will be given to the dental technician, along with any other information needed to make the veneer. The colour of the surrounding teeth is matched on a shade guide to make sure that the veneer will look entirely natural.
How long will it take?
A veneer takes at least two visits: the first to prepare the tooth and to match the shade, and the second to fit it. Before bonding it in place, our dentist will show you the veneer on your tooth to make sure you are happy with it. Bonding a veneer in place is done with a special adhesive, which holds it firmly on the tooth.
How much will it cost?
The costs for this treatment can vary depending on material used, so it is important to discuss charges and treatment options with our dentist before starting treatment.
What about alternatives?
A natural-coloured filling material can be used for minor repairs to front teeth. This is excellent where the tooth supports the filling, but may not work so well for broken tooth corners. Tooth coloured filling materials can, however, be used as a less costly alternative to porcelain veneers, and in some cases this may work very well (see section on Cosmetic bonding . Crowns are used for teeth which need to be strengthened – either because they have broken, have been weakened by a very large filling, or have had root canal treatment. See the section on crowns for more detail.