A veneer is a thin layer of porcelain or another ‘composite’ material made to fit over the front surface of a tooth, like a false fingernail fits over a nail.
What are veneers used for?
Veneers are used for a variety of reasons. They can be used to alter the colour of your teeth by having a precise shade of porcelain chosen to improve a single discoloured tooth or to lighten your front teeth. They can be used to make a chipped tooth look whole again. Veneers can also be used to close small gaps, when orthodontics (braces) are not suitable. 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 adhesive, very little preparation of the tooth is needed. Some types of veneers don’t need any preparation at all.
How are teeth prepared for a veneer?
Occasionally, some of the shiny, outer enamel surface of the tooth may be removed to ensure that the veneer will be able to make a permanent bond. 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 may be used to make sure that there is no discomfort, but often this is not needed. Once the tooth has been prepared, your dentist will take an impression of the tooth, and will match the colour of the surrounding teeth to make sure that the veneer will look entirely natural.
How long will it take?
A veneer takes at least two visits. The first is to prepare the tooth and match the shade, and the second is to fit it. Before bonding it in place, your 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.
How long will a veneer last?
Veneers should last for many years, but they can chip or break, just like your own teeth can. Your dentist will tell you how long each veneer should last. Small chips can be repaired, or a new veneer fitted if necessary.