Veneers were first introduced to the dental profession in the 1970's. In many respects, they are the dental equivalent of artificial nails: They are artificial teeth placed over your own to improve your smile's appearance and uniformity. Professionally custom-made dental veneers are bonded to the teeth, but removable (temporary or trial) veneers are used by dentists to "preview" a new smile.
Professionally applied veneers are not removeable. Patients can opt for removeable veneers to improve the look of their smile if they're unsure permanent veneers are the right choice for their smile or their wallet.
Temporary or Removable Veneers
In their earliest form, dental veneers were mass produced and came in various sizes and colors. The dentist would select the most appropriate veneers for any given situation and attempt to bond them to the teeth. Like trying to put a square peg in a round hole, the success rate was correspondingly poor. They didn't fit very well, were not aesthetically pleasing, and they often fell off or broke.
Temporary veneers are inexpensive and are similar to the early veneers used decades ago as final restorations. They are made of resin in limited shapes and colors and must still be bonded to the teeth by a licensed dentist. Temporary veneers serve only as interim restorations. Professionally fabricated veneers offer a more permanent solution that also function as natural teeth.
In cases where you're not ready to commit to permanent veneers, your dentist may create temporary snap-on veneers to help you try out the look and feel. These removable veneers can hide missing teeth, gaps and stains, and you can pop them out just like you would a mouthguard.
Professional Permanent Veneers
Materials and procedures have improved greatly since the invention of veneers. Dental laboratory technicians are quite masterful at creating beautiful, customized restorations that improve the color and shape of the teeth, leading some to refer to the process as "instant orthodontics." These restorations can last for decades if properly cared for.
Veneers differ from crowns (commonly called caps) in that they are more conservative. Whereas a crown requires that the entire tooth be reduced in size, the veneer preparation only requires minimal removal of tooth structure. Veneer preparations are more demanding, though, and the margins of the restorations are more irregular. That said, they are extremely strong and rarely debond from the teeth.
Prefabricated veneers typically cost less than $100 and are available widely online. There can also be a substantial cost difference between laboratory-fabricated veneers and composite veneers done in the office. Custom-made, permanent, porcelain laminate veneers can cost anywhere from $800 to $2,000 per tooth, with fees varying in different regions of the country. Same-day, one-visit composite veneers are typically several hundred dollars less per tooth.
Caring for Your Veneers
When wearing veneers, be advised that anything that can chip a natural tooth can also break a veneer. In other words, don't bite your nails, chew ice, open bottles with your teeth, or otherwise use your teeth as tools. As always, it's usually best to consult with your dentist for any cosmetic concerns you have regarding your smile. A dentist's advice can save you time, money and a whole lot of heartache in the long run. Additionally, regular visits to your dentist will help assure that you maintain your beautiful smile for many years.