What is a Veneer?
A veneer is a thin shell of porcelain or composite filling material bonded to tooth enamel. Veneers change the shape, length, colour, position and surface texture of teeth.
Enamel is a strong coating on the surface of a tooth which can we treated with an acid gel to roughen it microscopically. Special resin glues or bonding agents will bind to the roughened surface and create a very strong bond. This allows a dentist to glue on a porcelain veneer or tooth coloured filling to create changes in shape, position, length and make minor colour changes. The longevity of veneers is excellent when they are bonded entirely to enamel, lasting up to 20 years or more in the case of strong porcelain veneers, or 7-10 years in the case of composite veneers.
What is a porcelain veneer?
A porcelain veneer is a very strong, beautiful and lifelike restoration that will last many years. The margin of a veneer is placed on enamel with a very tight seal. In the front of the mouth it is unusual to see decay at these sites in a well cared for mouth. We have patients with veneers that are nearly 25 years old. The porcelain (ceramic) material is very hard, smooth and durable. It does not stain, lose its colour and is stronger than a composite resin veneer.
Are veneers the best option?
Veneers can be life-changing for patients and, done in experienced hands, will last a long time.
Careful planning and good design is critical to the success of veneers. Most of all a dentist needs enamel to bond to, to allow veneers to be glued onto teeth. If there is inadequate enamel through tooth wear or acid erosion, a veneer will not be as strong, and may be liable to debond or break.
Every case needs careful assessment and a dentist skilled in veneers will do a through assessment of:
- How much enamel is left to bond to. If there is not enough then a crown (360 degree cover) may be a better option.
- The amount of tooth repositioning needed. If big changes in position are required then some minor orthodontic repositioning may be needed first. Sometimes, if a beautiful smile can be achieved with orthodontics such as Invisalign, then veneers are not needed at all.
- The underlying colour of the tooth. Very dark, black or grey discoloured teeth are hard to mask with veneers. These are better managed with crowns.
- Your bite and whether it needs correcting before veneers are placed. The way you use your teeth is critical to the success of veneers. Choose a dentist who really knows how to assess your bite properly, to make sure it is not going to compromise your veneers or need correction before veneers are done.
- Your age and the impact of removing enamel. If teeth are already damaged through tooth wear, old fillings, acid erosion then a dentist will generally recommend porcelain veneers, or crowns. If you are young and your teeth are beautiful with perfect enamel, a dentist may recommend Invisalign or minimal preparation composite veneers. This allows enamel to be preserved.
Book online for a Dental Fingerprint Exam to see if Porcelain veneers are the right option for you.