Dental veneers are an appendage to the natural, by and large healthy teeth, in a form of thin plates or flakes that are placed on the front side of the teeth in order to improve teeth’s appearance, and, to a degree, their function. Veneers emerged in the early days of Hollywood as a method actors used to perk up their looks, and, beginning in the 1990s, with the advent of durable composite materials, veneers have become a popular choice for getting rid of different dental imperfections.
Dental veneers are most commonly used in the following situations:
– when a tooth is worn or chipped;
– when there is a gap between teeth;
– when a tooth has a yellow tinge and cannot be helped by whitening;
– if the teeth are misaligned;
– to adjust the length of a tooth;
– when you want to go for a Hollywood Smile, in which case all front teeth are treated.
Veneers are similar to dental crowns in many aspects, in that they are a ceramic appendage (they can also be composite) placed only after a tooth has been recontoured in order to reach perfect appearance. Where they differ from the crowns is that veneers are placed solely on the front side of teeth and that they preserve tooth substance to a much higher degree. Unlike the crowns, which can be placed in any position (over a tooth, part of tooth, over an implant or as a bridge), situations in which veneers are used are much less common, because veneers demand well preserved teeth. Veneers are almost as robust as crowns, although they are only 1-3 mm thick, because the molecular bonds in zirconium are such that the material becomes considerably resistant to pressure. On the other hand, it is not resistant to bending, which is why it is very important that the bond between the tooth and the ceramic veneer (by cementing) is made no deeper into the tooth than the enamel. For this reason certain amount of recontouring, done only on enamel, is required. In case of excessive misalignment of teeth, we may decide to contour down to dentine, which increases the risk of the cement bond falling off.
When do you go for veneers?
Veneers cannot replace fixed braces in rectifying tooth alignment, however, placing veneers after wearing braces can achieve excellent results, since braces improve the alignment, and then veneers enhance the appearance of teeth. Veneers should not be considered for teeth which have only minor imperfections, because a patient will lose more than they will gain, since placing veneers involves recontouring, and in the long run it is better to have a preserved natural tooth with natural substance than a veneer covered tooth, especially if a patient is young.
Although certain amount of recontouring is necessary, veneers constitute the least invasive method for altering the colour, shape and alignment of a tooth. In an endeavour to preserve as much tooth enamel as possible, teeth are contoured no deeper than 0.5 mm, because dental cement bonds a ceramic veneer to a tooth best when a layer of enamel is present.
Veneers belong to the esthetic and cosmetic branch of dentistry, so they cannot deal with more serious tooth function impairments. Some issues which can be resolved with veneers include minor bite irregularities, a compromised tooth due to bad habits, minor exposure of root canal caused by early stages of receding gums, as well as strengthening of teeth which used to have caries in the front area.
Veneers: who are they intended for?
In cases where one or two veneers are needed to enhance the appearance of teeth which stood out from the rest in the jaw there is only one important issue which is that the tooth is healthy enough to wear veneers. In practice this means that a tooth has a healthy root canal, a preserved bulk of structure and no caries.
Set of veneers
When more veneers are required, however, whether it is the Hollywood Smile procedure or a less demanding one to improve your smile by using veneers alongside teeth whitening, the ideal target group is patients which have all their teeth without any caps, i.e. crowns, already placed. If there is a tooth missing, caps must be mounted on the teeth adjacent to the gap, after which a bridge is placed. Another thing to mention is that it is not possible to change from a crown to a veneer once a tooth has already been recontoured to fit a crown. It is not uncommon in our practice to combine ceramic veneers with dental crowns when certain teeth cannot be treated with veneers.