What are they?
A veneer is a thin layer of tooth-coloured material put onto the front of a tooth to make it look better. The tooth might have been damaged by decay or accident, or be discoloured.
What does the dentist do?
Sopme veneers are built up on the tooth directly using white filling material, while you are with the dentist. Others are made out of porcelain by a dental technician, from an impression of the tooth taken by the dentist. This type of veneer needs more than one visit.
- Any fillings in the teeth will be checked first;
- Very little tooth preparation is needed - just enough to prevent the veneer making the tooth feel bulky, so it may not be necessary to numb the tooth;
- For veneers made in the surgery, the surface of the tooth is roughened with a mild acid. Then 'composite' (white filling) is applied in layers until the look and shape of the teeth is right;
- For a veneer made by a dental technician, an impression is taken by the dentist first. This shows how the teeth bite together as well as telling the technician the shape and size of the veneer needed;
- A veneer made by a technician is glued to the tooth by the dentist at your next visit.
Veneers sometimes come away from the tooth or break if the tooth is knocked. They can sometimes be glued back on but will have to be replaced if they are damaged.
What are the benefits?
- Veneers can greatly improve appearance. They hide imperfections and you lose very little natural tooth;
- Veneers also protect teeth from further damage. For example, acid in foods and drinks or from the stomach can cause erosion. The teeth become thin and weak, but veneers can protect them;
- If the tooth is sound and strong, a veneer is often a better option than a crown for improving a tooth's appearance.