Dental veneers are restorations that are made of thin layers of either porcelain or composite. These are placed over the front and incisal surfaces (tips) of teeth to restore or improve their overall appearance and can be used to restore single or multiple front or side teeth.
What conditions are veneers good for treating?
Typically, veneers are considered in cases where teeth are
- Heavily filled
- Inherent defect or malformation of teeth (such as mottling, fluorosis or excessive enamel loss due to wear or acid erosion)
Generally, composite veneers or ‘composite bonding’ are used to restore a single tooth or a few front or side teeth and can often be carried out in a single treatment appointment by the dentist.
Porcelain veneers, in comparison, are normally indicated when there are several teeth or a fuller smile to restore and require 2-3 treatment appointments over a period of 2-3 weeks. Porcelain veneers generally maintain their finish and appearance better in the long term and are longer lasting, but more costly, than the composite alternative.
Dental veneers and composite bonding can also be used in patients looking to cosmetically enhance their smiles.
There are several different stages to creating and fitting dental veneers to ensure the best results.
How are dental veneers made?
Composite bonding can be carried out by the dentist in a single appointment (depending on the number of teeth), whereas porcelain veneers are manufactured in a dental laboratory by a dental technician/ceramist. The process varies depending on the type of veneer and the design process, but most will follow a similar set of steps:
Firstly, the dentist will need to see the patient to evaluate their dental condition and advise on the appropriate treatment etc. Then the dentist will advise the patient of the treatment options and together with the patient, decide on the type of veneer that would work best to solve the patient’s issue.
It may be necessary to carry out some preliminary treatment on the teeth and gums to ensure that everything is healthy before any veneer treatment. Moulds, scans and clinical photographs will be taken of the patient’s mouth so that the dental preparation and teeth and smile shape can be studied and planned for the veneers. X-rays are also necessary to check the condition of the teeth, gums and supporting bone.
The dentist and patient will also discuss aesthetic aspects of the veneer design, such as the desired tooth shape, colour and smile design, and also functional aspects, such as what the veneer is treating and how it will best improve this issue.
Once the mouth is healthy and any necessary groundwork has been completed, the veneer treatment can be started. As mentioned above, composite bonding (direct composite veneers) can usually be completed in one appointment.
During the patient’s first treatment appointment, the dentist will prepare the teeth for the veneers. This will involve cleaning the surfaces of the teeth thoroughly to enhance the bonding of the veneers or composite to the tooth structure. It may also involve some minor tooth preparation to shave back a small layer of the front and incisal surfaces of the tooth to create space for the veneering material, although many cases can also be done with no tooth preparation or shaving.
If composite bonding is planned, then the dentist will general build up the tooth in the same visit with layers of composite to create the desired shape and colour of the teeth. If the patient is having porcelain veneers, then further moulds or digital scans are taken to send to the dental technician so that the porcelain veneers can be fabricated. In this case temporary or provisional veneers will be fitted in the interim.
In the case of porcelain veneers, the dentist will often create a mock-up of what the veneers will look like and, once the patient has confirmed that they’re happy, provisional veneers will be made. They will link together and will be stuck onto the teeth to give the patient an idea of how their final veneers will look.
At this point, the patient will need to avoid flossing and be careful with what they eat, since the veneers aren’t permanently attached. They will also need to make sure to clean around the gum margins, so everything is nice and healthy for when the permanent veneers are attached.
Final definitive veneers
Throughout the process the dentist will take photographs to help plan and evaluate each stage of treatment. The photographs and moulds or scans of the provisional veneers also help to ensure that final veneers follow the dentist’s prescription and give the patient the result they desire, as all of this information is compiled and sent to the dental technician.
The final porcelain veneers are usually ready in approximately two weeks. A fitting appointment will be made where the provisional veneers are removed, the teeth cleaned up and the permanent veneers are tried to ensure that the dentist and patient are both happy with the result. The veneers can then be fitted and bonded to the teeth.
If for any reason the results are not quite what the dentist and patient want, or some slight modifications need to be made for functional reasons, then the veneers will be sent back to the technician for any alterations or refinements. The provisional veneers will then be re-fitted and a further fitting appointment made.
How long do veneers last?
Composite bonding would typically last for 8-10 years but may need some repairs and revisions every 3-5 years as a result of wear and tear. However, repairs are simple to do but do involve some further costs as this is a normal part of the maintenance of the composite material. Porcelain veneers are generally longer lasting (although more costly) and, as long as they are looked after well through a maintenance programme and good oral hygiene habits, should last 10-15 years.
As with most dental procedures, this is dependent both on a patient’s lifestyle, the quality of the work/expertise of the dentist and technician, and the patient’s compliance with the maintenance programme recommended by the dentist. Both your bite and how you use your teeth can affect this; a hard or destructive bite can reduce veneer lifespan and playing certain sports can risk chipping a veneer.
We would suggest wearing a protective night guard to increase the lifespan of your restorations if you suffer from bruxism. Also, it is recommended to reduce acid and carbonated drinks in your diet and remember that some very hard or crunchy foods may cause greater stress on the restorations and could possibly lead to chipping.
Find out more
Take a look at our case study to see how dental veneers could improve your teeth, or contact us to find out more about how we could help you regain your smile at the Windsor Centre for Advanced Dentistry.