Dental veneers are usually used to improve the aesthetics of the upper front teeth. A veneer can be made from plastic composite resin or ceramic. Typically composite resin veneers are cheaper but yield a less aesthetic result. Ceramic veneers are usually more expensive, long-term and are superior aesthetically.
The procedure involves placing a layer of material over the front of one or more teeth. This material changes the colour and shape of the teeth. Veneers can be performed on a singular tooth but is more commonly used over the six upper front teeth which gives the appearance of changing a complete smile. In cases where people have a very broad smile, it is sometimes necessary to cover up to eight or even ten of the upper front teeth.
Veneering material can be placed over the teeth without preparing them, however this is not common. If the veneering material is added to the tooth without removing some of the tooth structure, the teeth will have the final appearance of looking too large and unusual. To achieve the most aesthetic results, both the colour and the shape of the veneers must be excellent. Of these two aspects, the shape is arguably more important.The most successful veneers maintain the bite or occlusion of normal healthy teeth. The biting or chewing forces are maintained through the teeth and the veneering material simply covers the outside of the teeth.
Veneers may not be suitable for people who are very heavy tooth grinders with severly worn out teeth. These people may be more suited to plastic composite resin buildups on their teeth which will wear slowly over approximately seven to ten years. These restorations can then be replaced on a regular basis at approximately seven to ten year intervals.
What is the process for getting veneers?
Examination and consultation
A typical examination and consultation will begin with assessing the expectations a patient is wanting to achieve with veneers and our staff will help manage your expectations throughout this consult. We encourage the patient to show us images of other people’s teeth so we understand the result they want to achieve. Following this, an examination of the existing teeth is done. This includes an assessment of the surrounding gums, bones, jaw muscles and bite. From this, our dentist would be able to determine an approximate long-term lifespan of the remaining teeth. The patient is then assessed for whether ceramic or resin veneers are more suitable. Advantages and disadvantages of each option will be discussed with the patient at the end of the appointment.
In the majority of cases, a thin layer of enamel is removed from the front of the teeth to be veneered. This tooth removal is carried out to the gum line of the teeth so that is is not possible to see the join between the veneer and the tooth. It is absolutely vital that the veneer is placed to correct a darkly discoloured tooth. Crown and bridge dental impressions are then taken of the teeth which are sent to the dental laboratory. Temporary veneers are constructed and bonded to the prepared teeth. It is common that we take a considerable amount of time to provide our patient with temporary veneers in the most similar shape to the final veneers as possible.
Placement of veneers
The placement of veneers is typically performed over two appointments in a singular day. It takes approximately three or four weeks to construct ceramic veneers following the preparation and impressions. On the day of placement, the temporary veneers are removed and the new veneers are fitted to the teeth. They then need to be adjusted individually and in relation to each other. There are normally six veneers placed as a standard treatment to improve a patient’s smile aesthetic. Once the veneers are fitted to the teeth, they are reshaped to provide the most aesthetic contours.
Following this, a further consultation is carried out with the prosthodontist and ceramic technicians. Final colours are decided upon and any alterations or additions are applied. The second appointment is approximately two hours later to allow time for any additions to the veneers and for the final colours to be placed. Also within this appointment, the veneers are rechecked on the teeth and the colours reassessed. If everything appears correct, the veneers are then cemented individually to the teeth. This appointment will take approximately two hours.
Typically for the weeks following this, a review appointment is scheduled to check for any leftover cement, as well as rechecking the bite to ensure that no damage has occurred to the veneers.
Care following tooth preparation is very similar to the instructions given following tooth preparation for crowns and bridges. Mild to moderate discomfort is common and can be treated with the use of Panadol or Neurofen. Temporary veneers are quite thin and prone to fracture. Care needs to be taken during this temporary stage to protect these restorations. It is not uncommon for veneers to chip or fracture. If this happens, please make an appointment immediately. In addition, temporary veneers do leak somewhat. There can be increased sensitivity to cold, however this is usually mild. There are other techniques for manufacturing temporary veneers which you can discuss with the dentist, however every method has a shortcoming.
After veneer placement
Veneer placement is a longer appointment. IT is not uncommon to be fatigued or tired following this. Typically, the jaw muscles will be fatigued from staying open for an extended period of time. The gums surrounding the teeth can also be affected by the removal of the cement used to attach the veneers. Due to the excellent blood supply in the mouth, these effects will heal rapidly (usually within 24 hours). The gums will grow around the new veneers and the aesthetics will subsequently improve over several days following the placement.