A porcelain veneer is a thin layer of ceramic that is cemented to the front surface of your tooth. Veneers are used to improve the appearance of your natural tooth. They can change the shape, length, colour and alignment of one or more teeth. With minimal preparation to your natural tooth, veneers are a much less invasive option to crowns.
If you are interested in dental veneers your dentist may take x-rays, photographs and impressions of your teeth to send to a dental lab. The lab technician would prepare a mock-up on the models made from your impressions. The technician aims to provide a mock-up which improves the things that concern you most such as the shape, length, colour and/or alignment of your front teeth.
Once the mock-up comes back, the dentist can use this as a template to create temporary veneers (using a soft material) which resembles the final product. You can ask family and friends for their opinion and get used to the size/shape before making a decision. It also allows you time to make changes so you can make sure you are 100% happy with the final product.
If you intend on changing the shade so it is whiter than your natural teeth, your dentist may recommend teeth whitening prior to the preparation procedure so the veneers can be made to match the shade of your teeth to make them look as natural as possible.
When you are happy with the mock-up and the shade of your natural teeth, the veneer preparation procedure can be scheduled.
Dental veneers are usually completed over two appointments, in the first appointment the dentist will remove a very thin layer of your tooth enamel and take a mold of your mouth so it can be sent to a lab where the mock-up was prepared. The dentist may also take some photos which show the current shade of your adjacent teeth so the veneers can be painted/stained to look as similar as possible to your adjacent teeth. The veneers will be the same thickness or thicker than the layer that was removed depending on what aspects of your original tooth structure you wanted to change.
The dentist will place temporary veneers on (the same as the mock-up veneers) which will prevent the tooth from becoming sensitive to hot and cold.
Once the veneers come back from the lab, the dentist will remove the temporary veneers and cement the permanent veneers on.
Dental veneers can last for many years if they’re cared for properly, although veneers are made from an artificial material and cannot decay, the tooth which supports the veneer can still decay. Brushing and flossing daily is still necessary tooth to reduce any risk of decay or inflammation of the gum surrounding this tooth. It is also important to rinse with water after eating/drinking foods that may stain your teeth as the margins where your tooth meets the porcelain can discolour easily, it can also cause your natural teeth to become discoloured which may make the veneers look less natural.
If a tooth that has a veneer becomes decayed, the veneer may need to be removed and replaced with a new veneer when the decay has been removed. Regular dental check-ups and diagnostic x-rays can reduce this risk as the dentist/dental hygienist can see areas where calculus is building up below the gum line and areas that have started to decay but may still be reversed before a filling is required.
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