For over 90 years, dental veneers have been used to improve smiles and keep teeth whole. As science and dental technology has changed, so have they. Here are the top three questions asked by dental patients to help you decide if dental veneers are a good solution for you.
- What is a veneer? Isn’t that something on furniture? A veneer is a thin layer of material, shaped like a tooth surface, which is placed over the tooth and bonded onto it to improve its look or protect it from damage. (And yes, there are wood veneers on furniture that have a similar purpose.) Originally invented for Hollywood actors, the veneer has become a mainstream dental treatment and popular way to makeover smiles.
- What kinds of situations require or benefit from dental veneers? A dental veneer, also known as tooth veneer, can be recommended by the dentist for a variety of situations. A few of the most common are:
• Enlarging teeth that are too small
• Restoring teeth that are chipped or damaged, which have healthy roots but need protection and refurbishment
• Providing a new surface for teeth that are discolored and cannot be whitened
• Fixing gaps in teeth that might otherwise require orthodontic braces
- What are dental veneers made out of? There are always new technologies in dental care, but the primary materials used today for veneers are porcelain and composite resin. Both materials can work well but there are some significant differences.
• Composite veneers are molded onto your teeth. They can be created and completed in one visit to the dentist’s office. The dentist will place a special resin directly onto the tooth. It is sculpted, and then hardened onto existing teeth by a special high intensity light. To get composite resin to match the rest of the teeth, the veneer must be polished. The color and shine can be matched. However, the opaque resin won’t reflect light the way a real smile or porcelain veneer can. Composite resins are also more porous and can stain.
Because the resin is applied by building on top of the tooth, no change is made to the underlying structure. If these veneers ever need to be repaired or removed, the tooth is still intact. Technically that makes them reversible. Composite resin is typically a lower cost option, but at around 5-8 years, they don’t last as long as porcelain veneers.
• Porcelain veneers maintain popularity because of their look and lifespan. Porcelain is significantly more durable than even the newest composites. At up to 15 years, they last significantly longer, but they do cost more. They also look more like natural teeth, sporting a similar translucent surface to real enamel. They are very resistant to chipping and staining. Another benefit of their strength is that porcelain veneers can be used to repair more significant tooth damage.
On the downside, depending on the dental office’s capabilities, porcelain veneers are often cast and then made in a dental lab, requiring a second appointment to have them applied. The actual teeth are ground to place the porcelain over them, so these veneers are irreversible. They can be replaced when damaged but not repaired.
Are you ready to cover discolored or broken teeth and protect them from further damage? Consider veneers and contact us at Whitmore Dental.