What are veneers?
Dental Veneers are a thin covering cemented to the front of a tooth to enhance the appearance of the tooth and smile. They are similar to a false fingernail and are also known as dental laminates.
Why are dental veneers needed?
Veneers are used to improve the smile in various ways:
- Cover and mask discoloured or stained teeth
- Increase the length of worn-down teeth
- Close gaps and spaces between the teeth
- Bring a tooth forward in the dental arch when teeth are crowded
- Restore and improve the shape of chipped and broken teeth
What are veneers made from?
Veneers are most commonly made from a composite material or porcelain which is a form of ceramic. Composite, which is a type of filling material, can be bonded onto the enamel surface and placed in one visit by the dentist. This can give a fantastic result but will lose its surface lustre and shine after a few years and may well stain and chip. However, it is possible to repair and repolish the composite material and you can expect them to last 5 to 7 years. Ceramics can give a more long-lasting result and will often be used after the smile has been trialled using composite.
Different types of ceramic may be used depending on the aims of the smile makeover. If dark and discoloured teeth are to be lightened, then the veneering material needs to be opaque in order to cover the discolouration. However, if we are changing the shape or closing gaps then we will use a more translucent material which will allow the natural shade of your tooth to show through.
Other materials such as gold, or zirconia are occasionally used.
Where are veneers used?
Dental veneers are most normally used on the front teeth, especially teeth that are visible when you smile. Incisors, canines, and premolars are the usual teeth to be veneered but if you have a very broad smile then sometimes the first molar may be veneered.
Advantages of veneers
- Veneers require very little, or no tooth preparation so there is less potential for nerve damage. We always aim to do the minimum cutting of the tooth!
- The result of a smile makeover with veneers will increase your confidence and self-esteem.
- Very natural and life-like appearance
- They are permanently fixed, or bonded to the enamel of your teeth and not removeable
Downsides of dental veneers
- Often the whole smile needs to be treated so they can be expensive.
- Composite material will be prone to staining and chipping.
- Ceramic veneers may fracture as they are very thin, but this is not common.
- Difficult to repair porcelain veneers.
- Ceramic materials do not change colour with time, but your teeth do so they will become more obvious. This may require tooth whitening to lighten your own teeth.
How is the treatment carried out?
Before we begin any treatment, we will discuss with you what results you would like to achieve, and we will look very carefully to see if it is possible. We always involve our patients in this decision-making process. If we are looking at changing multiple teeth, then we will take photos and often impressions of your teeth to carry out a smile-analysis and this will allow our laboratory to construct a “wax-up” which is a trial or prototype smile.
If we are adding to your teeth, then we can temporarily try this in your mouth so that you can see the result. At this point we will discuss together if this is how you would like your smile and we can make changes if you are not happy. We will only go on to the next stage when you are pleased with the new appearance.
At the preparation visit a thin amount of tooth enamel is shaved off the front of the teeth to enhance the shape and enhance the strength of the bonding. We will normally carry out this process using local anaesthetic. If we are using a composite resin material, then we will bond this to the teeth following the wax-up and then ensure that all the teeth are beautifully finished and polished. This visit could be up to three hours. We will then review the smile after two weeks to check that you are happy with the appearance and that the bite and finish is correct.
If ceramic is being used, then we will take impressions of the teeth and temporarily attach the “prototype” smile. To ensure that you like the new smile we will see you after a few days and make any changes if needed. The laboratory makes the veneers copying the prototypes and these will be fitted after two weeks. The fitting is also done using a local anaesthetic and can take between 1-2 hours.
How to look after dental veneers?
Dental veneers need to be cared for just like your own teeth. It is very important that you brush and floss regularly in order to avoid gum disease and reduce any staining. We recommend regular six-monthly visits with us to check your smile and visits with our dental hygienist to remove any staining.
You need to avoid habits such as biting fingernails, cotton thread, Sellotape or fishing line on the tips of your veneers as this could lead to damage or de-bonding. If a person is a tooth clencher or grinder then we will recommend the use of a guard at night to protect your new smile.
How long do veneers last?
Composite veneers should last between 5-7 years but can often be repaired, re-surfaced, or re-polished which will incur additional charges. Ceramic veneers should last 10 to12 years but we have seen them last up to 20 years if they are well looked after.
How much do dental veneers cost?
Composite veneers range from £150 each tooth but the costs can be less if more teeth are involved. Ceramic veneers are laboratory made and are more time consuming and are from £450.