Dental veneers are thin, custom-made shells that cover the front surface of your teeth. They’re bonded to your teeth with a special material that makes them an essentially permanent or certainly a long-term solution to discolored, misshapen, or broken teeth. Veneers generally last from seven to 15 years. They are made from porcelain or resin composites. Porcelain veneers resist stains better and is also a better match for the characteristics of natural teeth.
Compared to crowns, veneers offer a way to change a tooth’s appearance without the extensive reshaping required by dental crowns. Applying veneers is generally considered a more conservative approach than crowns. This can greatly decrease the time you spend in the dental chair compared to that involved in preparing a crown. Veneers are typically less costly as well.
It typically takes three trips to your dentist to obtain veneers. The first visit is a consultation that includes an examination and clear discussion of the procedure and what you can expect. Because veneers are not suitable for teeth with significant cavities, you may require X-rays at this point as well to determine the health of your teeth.
Your dentist uses the second visit to prepare your tooth or teeth for veneers. Multiple teeth may be treated at once. Approximately ½ millimeter of enamel is removed from the tooth surface to create space for the veneer. Your dentist then takes a mold or impression of your teeth which is sent to a dental laboratory that creates veneers. This step generally takes a couple of weeks to complete.
The third visit is used to bond the veneers to your teeth, using special dental cement that can be shaded to match the color of your veneer. Before applying the bonding agent, your dentist places the veneer on your tooth to check the fit and to trim the veneer if necessary. Cement is then placed on the veneer and the veneer is placed on the tooth. The bonding agent is activated by a light beam that causes chemicals in the cement to harden quickly.
If you are considering a dental whitening procedure it is best to have it completed just before undergoing a veneer procedure so your veneers match perfectly. After that, simply maintain your whitening treatments for your teeth without veneers. Veneers will not change color with whitening treatments.
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