what are veneers and veneer teeth

Everyone desires a dazzling smile. Your smile speaks volumes about your personality and is mostly the first thing that people notice about you. Unfortunately, not everyone has the perfect set of teeth. People have teeth which are stained, chipped, crooked, gaps in between and discolored. Right kind of veneers are a quick treatment for these problems and help you get a perfect set of teeth and smile.

Veneers are thin teeth covers that are fixed on the front surface of your existing teeth. For ease of understanding, consider them to be like contact lenses over the eyes, just of the fixed variant. Porcelain veneers are the most common one, but there are others as composite and EMAX veneers.

But, it’s vital to know that the treatment is irreversible and it is essential to look for answers before you and your dentist decide for right veneers for you. Questions that you should look for are – what are the types of veneers? What are their disadvantages and advantages? Who can get veneers? Precautions needed for veneers, etc.

What are veneers?

The word veneer comes from the French’ fournir’, meaning ‘to furnish.’ In the medical dictionary, it is defined as a plastic or porcelain coating which is bonded to the surface of a cosmetically imperfect or damaged tooth.

Often a small amount of tooth enamel, the outermost coating of a tooth is removed to prepare the surface of the tooth and allow enough space for the dental veneer to be attached. Veneers are bonded to the front of the teeth correcting the color, shape, size, or length of the teeth.

Veneers can be used for a single tooth, in case of single tooth discoloration or damage. A full set of veneers to all the visible front teeth can be done for a smile makeover. They last anywhere from 5-20 years, depending on the type and material.

Who requires veneers?

Discoloration

Sometimes due to trauma, a single tooth or few teeth start changing their color. They tend to get darker in comparison to neighboring teeth. Such teeth need to be endodontically treated and restored with veneers. Some individuals have discolorations because of excessive smoking, tea, coffee or wine (1). The appearance of teeth becomes dull and loses its luster.

A full set of veneers are indicated in such cases. Hypocalcifications, a condition in with dark white spots occur on the enamel surface, can also be corrected by veneers.

Interdental spacing

Diastema or interdental spacing is the presence of natural spacing between the teeth. The most common type is midline diastema wherein a rift is present between the two front teeth (2). Veneers are the best option for correcting diastema. Orthodontic treatment or braces is another option for treating the same condition, but it can require 9-12 months, and in some cases 18 months. Wherein a good set of veneers can be delivered with satisfying results and longevity in under a weeks time.

Malposed teeth

Certain mild to a moderate improper aligned tooth can be corrected with the use of veneers. Veneers are however not indicated for people with severe malalignment and overlapping of the tooth. Sufficient tooth substrate should be available for correction of malposed teeth. If the tooth is positioned outwards or inwards to a limited extent, veneers can correct its position and provide uniform alignment.

Chipped or crooked teeth

Many people have small chips in their teeth which although not medically problematic but can be a cosmetic concern. Veneers allow the remodeling of the shape of such crooked and chipped teeth and even out the differences. Those with severe bruxism, a grinding condition, have worn out teeth. Porcelain veneers can help rehabilitate the damaged teeth.

Peg laterals

Some people have congenitally small tooth structure, especially in the second upper front teeth. This condition is called peg laterals (3). Peg laterals are an aesthetically challenging case, and the use of veneers can help achieve excellent results.

What are the benefits of veneers?

Some of the benefits of veneers are listed below –

  • Improves the appearance of the smile – veneers are the best dental option for highly pigmented teeth. Teeth whitening may be an option to improve the color of the teeth. However, veneers provide a long-lasting stain resilience which gives a whiter smile to the patient.
  • Corrects minor misalignments of teeth – most of the patients do not prefer to undergo orthodontic treatment. In such cases, minor tooth misalignments like crooked tooth, or small gaps between the teeth can be easily corrected by veneers. Unlike orthodontic treatments, the veneers mask the dental problem rather than repositioning the tooth.
  • Replaces damaged and weak enamel – several factors like improper tooth brushing, consumption of acidic food and drinks can have debilitating effects on the tooth. Often the enamel gets eroded causing tooth sensitivity and discoloration. In such cases, veneers can act as protective coverings and also strengthen the enamel.
  • Veneers cover only a part of the front tooth. As compared to dental crown, veneers require minimal tooth shaping and preparation. Such a minimalistic preparation makes this process a conservative dental approach. Moreover, it avoids extensive tooth modifications that are required for proper placement of a dental crown.
  • Veneer placement is a cosmetic dental procedure which instantly boosts up the confidence of the patient by improving the aesthetics of the smile. It has a very positive effect on the psychological behavior of the patient. Moreover, the patient gains back their self-esteem.

What are the disadvantages of veneers?

Although veneers have a wide range of benefits, there are certain disadvantages associated with this unique dental device. Some of the problems of veneers are listed below –

  • It is an irreversible procedure – placement of veneers usually requires tooth preparation in which the tooth structure is reduced to accommodate the proper fit of the veneers. This makes veneer fabrication an irreversible process. It is essential to always look at the benefits and necessity of the procedure. Also, a dental professional can suggest the best possible treatment option for your case.
  • The high cost of the procedure – veneers is a cosmetic dental procedure which usually involves correction of front teeth. Cosmetic dental procedures generally cost more than therapeutic dental treatments. Typically, the cost of veneers depends upon the type and number of teeth involved, location, and expertise of the dentist.

The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry performed a survey study related to the average cost of dental veneers. They revealed that the price of a single veneer across the United States was around $1313.

  • As mentioned earlier, placement of veneers requires tooth preparation which may expose the dentin of the tooth. Such events may cause tooth sensitivity before placing the veneers. Once the veneers are placed, the patients may continue to feel sensitivity to hot or cold food and drinks. However, it only lasts for the first few days post-treatment.
  • Veneers are not ideal for replacement of the tooth with extensive decay, active gum disease, sizeable dental filling, or an extraordinarily fragile and weak enamel structure. Such conditions will not allow proper bonding of the veneer to the tooth surface. Moreover, it reduces the longevity of the veneer. Such dental problems can quickly cause dislodgment or chipping of the veneer.

What are the types of veneers?

Traditionally, porcelain veneers were the most common form of veneers recommended by dentists. But due to emerging technologies, various materials have proven to offer the same benefits as that of porcelain veneers.

Porcelain veneers

By far, the most durable type of tooth veneer is one made of porcelain material. Porcelain veneers are wafer-thin, custom-made shells which can be expected to last 10-20 years (4). Porcelain is stain-resistant, and its translucency closely resembles natural teeth.

Porcelain lumineer veneers have an ultra-thin design which means they can improve the cosmetic appearance of existing teeth without the need for any filing. Zirconia-based porcelain veneers have become a popular alternative to conventional porcelain veneers.

Composite veneers

Composites are significantly cheaper than porcelain teeth, but in return, the aesthetic appearance can be less convincing. They have a lifespan of up to five years after which, the material may start to chip away or stain and become unsightly.

It is also possible to fit composites without removing any enamel from the healthy tooth, though not indicated for every case (5). For many people, this is a significant benefit because it means the treatment is fully reversible.

EMAX veneers

EMAX veneers are made from a single block of lithium disilicate. It is a glass ceramic material which is robust and at the same time has an enduring but delicate appearance (6). EMAX veneers are ideal for esthetically challenging cases. The lithium disilicate demonstrates lifelike translucency due to a relatively lower refractive index and superior optical properties.

What is the procedure for getting veneers?

When you walk into a dental clinic, make up your mind and be sure about what you want, express your desires completely. Dentists will take different approaches depending on what you are expecting from the treatment. If a simple change in tooth color is what you require, the procedure is relatively simple and can be wrapped up in a small duration say about one week.

For cases such as correcting tooth alignment or correcting a crooked smile more planning is essential. The procedure can require over two weeks. After your initial consultation, where you explain your problems and your expectations, the dentist will take photos and may create a dental impression of your existing teeth.

The dentist will select your tooth shade for matching purposes. The specific dental software will analyze these inputs and give a virtual result as to how your teeth would appear post veneers. The dentist may take x-rays to check the existing tooth condition, and a thorough examination of your gum condition will be undertaken. If everything is perfect, you will get a go for the veneer treatment.

If not the gum and tooth problem needs to be addressed before starting the veneer procedure. Now if you are opting for porcelain or EMAX veneers, your dentist may administer an anesthetic as a precaution. This process is not painful as there are no nerves present in the enamel. Usually, a thin layer of enamel is trimmed to make the teeth receive the veneers. With composite veneers in some instances, no enamel removal is necessary.

Composite veneer procedure

Composite veneers, also called laminates, are usually a single visit procedure. The composite material is directly bonded to the tooth surface and does not require any lab procedures. Ideally, a rubber dam should be used to isolate the tooth/teeth which are undergoing treatment.

Rubber dam keeps the surface dry, as any moisture may interfere with the bonding agent. The dentist slightly roughens the tooth surface, then etches it with acid. After adequately cleaning it, a thin layer of bonding agent is applied on the surface.

The dentist then adds the composite material in thin layers, gradually forming the tooth to the required shape (7). The material is set by light activation, using a curing light. Once satisfactory results are achieved the surface is polished, so it looks and feels like a natural tooth.

Porcelain and EMAX veneer procedure

After a thin layer of enamel is trimmed the dentist makes a dental impression. This impression is sent to a dental laboratory for crafting of veneers. Meanwhile, the dentist gives you provisional or temporary veneers at this point, to protect the prepared teeth while you await the permanent ones (8).

Once your porcelain veneers are ready, your next appointment is scheduled. The dentist will thoroughly clean your teeth again and use acid to roughen the surface of both the tooth and the veneer. A dental adhesive is applied to both the tooth and veneer, and the veneer wafer is cemented on the tooth one at a time. The excess cement removal is done carefully. Your veneer teeth procedure is complete now, and you can go home with your desired smile.

Precautions post veneers

Use a quality toothbrush and change it regularly, brush and floss every day. Don’t worry about losing your dental veneers while brushing or flossing. Be regular with your dentist, undergo tooth cleaning and tartar removal to avoid the incidence of any gum disease. Be extra careful with tea, smoking, wine if you have opted for composite veneers as they can stain more easily (9).

Use a non-abrasive toothpaste once you have veneers. Abrasive toothpaste can scratch the veneers and make them look dull. Avoid chewing on hard objects as they can crack, wear down, and damage your veneers. Use a dental spray or mouthwash which is prescribed by your dentist. The lifespan of your teeth veneers is mostly down to how well you care for them and your teeth.

How long do veneers last?

The longevity of veneers depends on several factors. However, typically, veneers may last for 10-15 years. Some of the factors that may influence the longevity of veneers are listed below –

  • Fracture resistance – veneers are fragile as compared to a dental crown. It is essential to take extreme measures while playing contact sports as any traumatic injury to the front teeth can easily fracture the veneers.
  • Resilience to tooth stains – this is crucial to maintain the aesthetics of the veneers for a long time. Veneers have excellent stain resilience as compared to other dental materials due to their superior fabrication.
  • Anti-wear property – compared to dental filling materials like composite bonding, veneers have better wear resistance. Surfaces are capable of taking the heavy biting load. However, biting on hard food substances such as walnut or apricot daily may hamper the wear resistance of the veneers. (10)
  • Breakpoint threshold – usually, veneers are bonded to the tooth surface with the help of dental adhesive cement. However, sudden trauma or accident can immediately dislodge and detach the veneer from the natural tooth surface.
  • Maintenance – good oral hygiene is crucial for the longevity of the veneer and the supporting tooth. Poor oral hygiene is the main culprit to cause gum disease and tooth decay. This event impacts the appearance of the smile and the health of the teeth and gums. As the teeth become loose and weak, they may not support the veneers.

What is the cost of veneers?

Cost of the veneers usually depends on the extent of tooth preparation, the type of tooth involved, the location in the mouth, and the expertise of the dental professional. An additional factor that may affect the cost of the veneers is the type of lab used for fabrication. Typically, the cost of a dental veneer ranges between $800 – $2000 per tooth.

Key points to remember

Teeth veneers are an excellent solution for improving the cosmetic appearance of teeth. However, they are not a therapeutic solution for decayed or heavily damaged teeth. Porcelain and EMAX veneers are an extremely safe and effective way to improve the shape, size, appearance, and color of your teeth dramatically (11).

Although there are several advantages that veneers bring to improve the appearance of the smile, you should be aware of the fact that this procedure is an irreversible one. Moreover, it is an expensive procedure. However, veneers last for more than 10-15 years which is worth the money you spend. Post veneer treatment care is crucial to maintain the longevity of this unique dental device. Be regular with your dentist post veneers, and try to schedule your cleaning appointment at least twice a year.