Dental veneers are very thin layers of material used to cover the surface of teeth. They are used to address issues like discoloration, chips, cracks, uneven height of teeth, irregular shape, and small gaps between teeth. While normally used for cosmetic treatment of teeth, veneers can also be used to fix minor bite related issues. Once applied, veneers look and function like natural teeth, and can stand up to the normal stresses that the original teeth are subjected to. Veneers can last from 5 to 10 years before needing to replace them.
Preparation for veneers requires the removal of some tooth enamel. While veneers can be adjusted or remade and applied, the tooth cannot be returned to its original condition. This may be a point to consider for people who have healthy teeth and are considering getting dental veneers. They are not a good choice for individuals with unhealthy teeth, active gum disease, or weakened teeth (either from dental fractures or tooth decay).
Types of Veneers
Direct veneers are made from resin/plastic that is bonded directly to teeth. Direct veneers can be used to hide small imperfections and improve the colour of teeth. Normally, no preparation is required for direct veneers. It is also less expensive than ceramic veneers. However, it is not as durable as ceramic veneers and is more prone to chipping, breaking, and staining. On the other hand, damage to direct veneers is repairable. They may not be applicable to severely stained or irregular teeth, but they can also be used temporarily while awaiting the fitting of ceramic veneers.
Ceramic veneers are thin ceramic shells that are then bonded to teeth. Ceramic veneers can be used when the stains resist whitening, or on teeth that have cracks or irregular contours. They are more durable than direct veneers and can resist staining. These veneers require several visits for preparation and fitting. They are also more expensive compared to direct veneers. Any damage to ceramic veneers will require replacement.
Caring for Veneers
- Veneers should be given the same care as natural teeth. Regular brushing and flossing are enough to keep the veneer clean. Non-abrasive fluoride toothpaste is recommended by dentists. Veneers can still suffer from tooth decay and having good dental hygiene is recommended if you want to keep them well maintained.
- Due to the removal of tooth enamel, sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures may be experienced. As a result, you might want to avoid eating anything within these extremes.
- Bad habits like clenching or grinding of teeth, as well as biting hard materials (fingernails, ice, etc.) can also damage veneers.
- Ceramic veneers resist stains and, after some time, they will look whiter than natural teeth. Teeth whitening should be considered before treatment and regularly scheduled after treatment for an even coloured smile.
- Regular visits to the dentist should also be done for cleaning and so that the dentist can also check the veneer for any signs of damage.
Veneers are versatile solutions for most cosmetic needs. The dentist will be able to give advice on other dental options if veneer is inappropriate or inadvisable for the desired outcome.