A veneer is a thin layer of porcelain made to fit over the front surface of a tooth -like a false fingernail fits over a nail. Veneers can improve the colour, shape and position of your teeth. A precise shade of porcelain can be chosen to give the right colour to improve a single discoloured tooth or to lighten front teeth.
A veneer can make a chipped tooth look intact again. The porcelain covers the whole of the front of the tooth with a thicker section replacing the broken part. Veneers can also be used to close small gaps when orthodontics (braces) are not suitable. If one tooth is slightly out of position, a veneer can sometimes be fitted to bring it into line with the other teeth.
Veneers make teeth look both natural and healthy and, because, they are very thin and held in place by a special strong bond (rather like super-glue) very little preparation of the tooth is needed. Some of the shiny outer enamel surface of the tooth may be removed to make sure that the be permanently in place later. The amount of enamel is tiny and will be the same thickness as that of the veneer to be fitted. This ensures that the size of the tooth remains the same size.
A local aneasthetic (injection) may be used to make sure that there is no discomfort whilst the tooth is being prepared but this may not always be necessary. Once the tooth has been prepared, the dentist will take an impression (mould) and this will be given to the Dental Technician, along with any other information needed to make the veneer. The colour of the surrounding teeth is matched on a shade guide to ensure that the veneer looks entirely natural.
A veneer takes at least two visits – the first to prepare the tooth and to match the shade and the second to fit the veneer. Before bonding the veneer in place your dentist will show you the veneer placed over your tooth to make sure that you are happy to proceed. Bonding the veneer in place uses a very strong adhesive which holds it firmly onto the tooth. Veneers should last for many years but they can chip or break, just as your own tooth can. Your dentist will tell you how long each individual veneer should last. Small chips can be repaired or a new veneer fitted.