A dental veneer is best described as a porcelain shield that is thin and is designed to cover the front surface of the tooth. A veneer is also a way to alter or enhance the appearance of teeth that are stained, broken, chipped, not aligned or have spaces between them.
When a patient visits the dentist for veneers, the dentist has to prepare the tooth in order for it to be ready to receive the veneer. Thankfully, very little of the enamel surface of the tooth will need to be removed by the dentist. The total amount of enamel removed depends on the type of veneer used, the alignment of the teeth and the preference of the doctor. If the patient is experiencing any pain during the process, a local anesthetic can be used to help lessen the pain.
In order to begin the process of preparing a tooth for a veneer, the dentist will take an impression of the tooth. The impression paste is placed on the tooth and will remain there for around 3 minutes. The patient will also need to bite down into the paste in order to get an impression of their teeth bite. Once the impression is made, it is sent to a dental lab who will manufacture the final set of veneers.
While the patient is waiting for the final set of veneers, a temporary set will be made using an acrylic material. The temporary set is cemented onto the treated area. While the temporary veneers might resemble the tooth of the patient, they will not have the final shading and more natural look of the veneers made by the dental lab. They might also feel rougher than the natural enamel of the patient. Since they are temporary in nature, patients should avoid biting into hard foods, biting their nails, using their teeth to open bottles and eating or drinking anything that will stain the acrylic material.
It generally takes about a week for the veneers to return from the dental lab. They will be placed on the treated area by the dentist to make sure they fit properly and that the bite is correct for the patient. Once the dentist and the patient are both satisfied with the look and feel of the veneers, they will be cemented onto the treated area. Much like the first appointment where the impressions were made, the patient can choose to have a local anesthetic while the veneers are being placed in order to dull any pain or sensitivity. After the veneer is placed, the dentist will check the bite again to make sure the patient is not biting incorrectly onto the veneers. In case the bite is not occurring correctly, the dentist might need to make a series of small reductions in the teeth opposing the veneers.
When it comes to caring for and maintaining the veneers, patients should once again avoid biting into hard food because this might cause the veneers to break or chip. Food and drinks that are dark in color can cause the veneers to stain. Patients need to be careful because veneers, unlike natural teeth, can’t be whitened through the use of tooth whitening gels. The veneers can be protected through the use of a night guard. The night guard will protect the lower teeth from any grinding on the enamel.
While the process of getting a veneer might sound similar to getting a crown, there are a few differences between the procedures. The first big difference is the fact that a crown normally covers the entire tooth. A veneer only covers the front surface of the tooth which is the side of the tooth that is visible when a person smiles. Also, the veneers are wafer thin and have a thickness of about 1-millimeter while dental crowns are thicker and are about 2-millimeters in thickness. Finally, less tooth trimming is required when placing veneers and no trimming is necessary on the backside of the tooth. As opposed to dental crowns, no tooth reduction is necessary when placing some veneers so there is not as much loss of healthy tooth structure and the preparation process is less traumatic for the patient and the tooth.