Dental veneers are customized shells made of porcelain or a composite resin that fit over your teeth to improve their appearance.
Veneers are especially helpful in improving your smile if you have teeth that are chipped, stained or misshapen. The purpose of veneers is generally cosmetic, but you may have them fitted as part of an overall dental makeover that includes treatment for gum disease.
Porcelain veneers are more stain-resistant and natural-looking than composite veneers. But composite veneers are thinner, so less tooth surface needs to be removed before they are applied. Your dentist can help you determine which veneer best meets your needs.
Resin-based composite veneers are generally placed in one appointment. When you get ceramic or porcelain veneers, here’s what to expect:
- Preliminary: You can expect to make a preliminary office visit at which your dentist will take x-rays.
- Preparation: The dentist trims about half a millimeter of the tooth enamel to prepare for the veneers. Then he or she takes an impression or mold of your teeth to send to a lab to prepare the veneers, which takes about one to two weeks.
- Placement: When the veneers are ready, your dentist checks the fit and color of the veneers and prepares the tooth (or teeth) by cleaning them thoroughly and then roughening the tooth surface to improve the adhesion of the veneer. The veneer is attached to the tooth with a special cement, then ultraviolet light is used to harden it quickly.
- Preservation: Your dentist may schedule a follow-up visit a few weeks after the procedure to be sure that the veneers are properly placed.
Then just follow your regular oral hygiene routine of twice-daily toothbrushing and daily flossing as you normally would, and you can expect veneers to last for five to ten years before you need to replace them.