Porcelain veneers are ultra-thin shells of ceramic material, which are bonded to the front of a tooth with very strong resin cement. This procedure requires little anesthesia, and can be the ideal choice for improving the appearance of the front teeth. Porcelain veneers are placed to mask discolored teeth or change the shape and appearance of crooked or chipped teeth.
There are many situations that arise that lend themselves to treatment with veneers. One indication is for restoring teeth with discoloration that have been unaffected by the more conventional tooth whitening approaches, such as bleaching. Some examples of this are teeth that have severe tetracycline (an antibiotic) staining or discoloration from a previous injury to the tooth. Another major indication is for teeth that require significant changes in their shape or contour. By placing veneers, small or misshapen teeth can be built up to regain a more natural appearance, spaces between teeth can be closed by making the teeth wider and teeth that are too short can be lengthened.
Veneers are a very popular treatment option for a variety of reasons. They are one of the most conservative restorations that can be done. This means that the amount of tooth structure that must be removed in order to do a veneer is very small. Generally, only 0.3 to 0.7 mm needs to be removed from the surface of your tooth. The veneer is then made and bonded to the tooth, incorporating the desired changes in shape and color. Since the veneer is so thin and there is no metal in it, the esthetic potential is very high.
A porcelain veneer requires a longer treatment time. At the first appointment, your teeth are prepared and an impression is made of them. Temporary veneers are made out of plastic and placed on your teeth. They are used to protect your teeth while the real veneers are being fabricated. You can also use them to evaluate the look and feel of your teeth so that any changes you desire can be incorporated into your real veneers. At the second appointment, the temporary veneers are removed and the porcelain veneers are bonded to your teeth. Although they are thin, porcelain veneers are much stronger than composite ‘bonding’ veneers, so the risk of fracture as compared with composite veneers is much less. However, if a fracture does occur, repairing it is more difficult and may result in the veneer having to be remade.
In general, porcelain veneers can be used in a greater variety of situations with a higher level of predictability. Since they are made outside the mouth, the shape and color can be easier to control, thus enhancing the final result.