Dental veneers are thin ceramic layers made from exceptionally thin porcelain or composite resin. They are bonded to the front surface area of your teeth to enhance the appearance of your smile. Veneers help to strengthen and provide resilence to the natural tooth structure. The veneer procedure is usually irreversible, according to the American Dental Association, so it's important to understand exactly what you're signing up for before you start the process.
Your first appointment is usually a consultation with your dentist to find out if you're a suitable candidate for veneers. Take along any photos you have of smiles you like, to provide an idea of what you're looking for in terms of color, shape and size. Your dentist will examine your mouth and advise you whether the final results you seek are achievable. Your dentist may ask you and recommend the following:
- How many of your teeth will require veneers?
- Do you require gum reshaping to accommodate the veneers?
- What is the treatment process that will be used and the time frame you're looking at to place the veneers?
- An estimated cost and the percentage you can expect insurance to pay.
- Do you have any other dental problems that need addressing before the veneers are placed?
Most dental practitioners will be able to supply you with a computer-generated design of their suggested look for your mouth, which will give you the chance to decide whether you want to proceed or not.
At this point you should ask whether the practitioner guarantees the veneers, and if so for how long. Look for a dentist who provides a five-year warranty of care or more. Find out what material he or she uses for veneers and ask why he or she made this particular choice. Ask what to do if the veneers fall out or break off during the warranty of care period, and what happens after it runs out. Ask any questions you have about the procedure itself, including numbing injections, pain and after-care.
Once you decide to go ahead with the veneers procedure, you'll have X-rays, dental impressions and photographs taken. This process typically takes around half an hour and is non-invasive and painless.
When your veneers are ready for placement, you'll go for another appointment, where you'll receive local anesthesia for each of the teeth being covered. Alternatively, the dentist may use a numbing spray to deaden the nerves. The dentist will file away a microscopically thin layer of the tooth enamel, perform any gum reshaping you need and then fit the veneers using dental adhesive. The veneers are then light-cured to ensure setting of the adhesive, after which the dentist smooths and shapes them to ensure there are no rough spots to cause you discomfort. Depending on the number of teeth you're having veneers mounted to, the entire veneers procedure will take between one and three hours.
Caring for your veneers requires the same daily brushing and flossing as your natural teeth, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Brush with a toothbrush like the Colgate 360° Enamel Health Soft Toothbrush for Sensitive Teeth, which has 48 percent softer bristles, to be gentle on the veneer surface. You'll also need to have regular dental cleanings which can be done by your dentist or dental hygienist at follow-up visits. If you have a propensity to tooth grinding or clenching during sleep, a nightguard is a useful tool to be made to avoid damaging the veneers during sleeping at night.
Veneers will require replacement eventually regardless of how well you care for them, but an appropriate oral hygiene routine will help you keep them looking great for as long as possible.