Veneers are thin porcelain shells that cover the surface of the tooth to improve the appearance of your teeth. They are cosmetically bonded to the surface of your tooth to improve tooth shape, size and colour.
They can fix small gaps, improve crooked teeth and rejuvenate your smile in very little time. They are a safe and minimally invasive way to improve your smile for life!
Porcelain veneers are one of the many miracles that modern technology has bestowed on us. The production of these ultra-thin, lightweight slivers of porcelain is a remarkable achievement, since they are able to transform a person’s smile from dull to amazing in a way that has to be seen to be believed. They are used in cases where a person’s natural teeth are dark or discoloured, have surface pits or severe white spots, have slight damage to their edges or corners, or are slightly misaligned, perhaps leaving an unsightly gap. All these kinds of problems can often be overcome by using thin veneers of porcelain, accurately shaped and bonded to the front of the teeth.
A porcelain veneer, or laminate as it’s sometimes called, is a very thin piece of porcelain that is custom made to fit on to the front of a tooth in order to change its appearance, either shape or colour, or both. Once a veneer is bonded to a tooth it can completely alter its appearance, producing a very lifelike effect, and a colour that can be as white as you like!
Many celebrities have embraced this cosmetic procedure because it produces such dramatic results. Many like to have dazzling white teeth that allow them to smile to maximum effect, and veneers can give them such a smile. Bleaching teeth is one way of whitening them and is also popular, but natural teeth do tend to gradually darken again over time so sometimes the process needs to be repeated, and bleaching, although certainly effective, can rarely reach the degree of whiteness demanded by some in search of that true Hollywood smile. Moreover, with veneers, the porcelain doesn’t change colour over time because it is inherently stable as well as being impermeable and resistant to staining and plaque adhering to its surface.
Veneers can also be made from composite material but this is generally not as satisfactory, since the material can discolour somewhat over time. An alternative to normal porcelain is a kind of sintered glass which is probably just as good in terms of strength and can be made more translucent if the situation requires this.
Porcelain veneers are fragile until they are fitted to the teeth whereupon they become firmly bonded to the tooth surface and so it is the tooth that mostly takes the strain during chewing rather than the veneer.
The great advantage of the porcelain veneer is that it can successfully mask quite bad discolouration in a tooth, with minimal preparation. Often a thin layer of enamel is removed in order to keep the overall contour the same, but the tooth does not need to be drastically cut down and reshaped as it would for a crown. This means that the inherent strength of the tooth is retained and there is no possibility of damage to the pulp (“nerve”) of a tooth as there might theoretically be when preparing it for a crown. Significant heat is generated by the dental drill, and although this is dispersed by water cooling, there can occasionally be damage to the pulp of a tooth although it is not apparent at the time. Subsequent pulp death could possibly occur and require remedial root-canal therapy. Placing a veneer is much more conservative of tooth tissue and avoids all the issues regarding crowns.
Improving the colour of the teeth that show when a person smiles, i.e. the front six or eight teeth, often along with minor shape improvements, is probably the most common use for porcelain veneers, and is incredibly successful. The person’s smile is transformed, and usually the life of these restorations is at least five to ten years with very little maintenance required.
Teeth that have slight, but not severe, damage are also often amenable to veneering in order to restore them. Quite often a tooth may become slightly chipped by biting on a hard object such as an olive stone, without meaning to, and the biting edge or a corner of a tooth can be fractured off. This is usually not severe enough to cause lasting pain but often leaves the tooth looking unsightly and the person unhappy about their appearance when they smile.
Such a situation can be rectified by means of a porcelain veneer that covers the whole front of the tooth replacing also the missing part of the tooth. Cases where teeth have become excessively worn down by grinding the teeth, (bruxism), or cases where teeth have suffered acid erosion from excessive consumption of fizzy drinks or fruit juices, can also benefit from this treatment with porcelain veneers.
Whether it’s just one tooth at fault, or several, the damage can be repaired with one or more porcelain veneers that can be made to match very closely to the other natural teeth.
A slight gap between front teeth can often be unsightly, causing a dark shadow in an otherwise pleasant smile, and this is another case where veneers can be often used. The veneers are made very slightly wider to take up the space and hence produce a regular smile again.
If just one or two teeth are slightly crooked their appearance can sometimes be altered by using veneers, although if the degree of rotation is severe, or several teeth are in poor alignment it is often better to consider orthodontic treatment, although this usually takes much longer.
The porcelain veneer then, is indicated where the appearance of a tooth, in terms of colour or shape, needs to be improved with the minimum disturbance to the tooth. The process is not usually reversible however because there generally has to be some surface tooth enamel removed first. Having said this, some of the latest types of veneer are apparently so thin as not to require any reduction of tooth substance at all which is truly amazing. These latest types of veneer made in California by companies like Mac and da Vinci, are stronger than the traditional types and probably the best in the world, although of course they come at a considerable cost. It is not, however necessary to have the ultimate, state of the art type of veneer to overcome most people’s smile problems, and usually a solution can be found at reasonable cost.
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