Veneers, laminates, facings, porcelain laminates, or dental veneers: they all are names for porcelain veneers. They are used when a tooth is cracked, discolored, worn down, chipped, or even to correct small gaps or imperfectly shaped teeth.
Veneers are made from very thin sheets of porcelain that match color of the teeth. The material is less than 0.5mm thick – that is about the thickness of a fingernail. It is color matched to look like natural teeth, and is adhered to the fronts of the existing teeth.
The procedure to get veneers starts with a consultation. The dentist will determine if veneers are the best option, and will go over the procedure to address any concerns and answer questions. He will then remove about 0.5mm of enamel from the surface of the teeth. He will then take impressions. The models made from those impressions are sent to a dental laboratory to create the veneers to the exact specifications of your teeth. It can take anywhere from one to two weeks for the veneers to come back from the lab.
The artistic talent of the dentist comes into play just before the veneers are bonded to the teeth. The dentist will place the veneers on the teeth to test the shape, color, and fit. He will trim and otherwise adjust the shape of the veneers as needed. Then the natural teeth will be cleaned before they are etched. Etching roughens the surface so the cement will adhere well. The special cement and the veneers are applied, then the dentist will use a light to activate the chemicals in the cement to cure it quickly. Any excess cement is removed and a final check of the look and the patient’s bite is done.
The veneers generally will last around 5 to 10 years, but do not require any special care. It is recommended, however, that the patient refrain from chewing on hard items like ice cubes or pens. Contact your dentist to find out if veneers are for you!