If your teeth are stained, discolored, or suffering from minor damage, a convenient solution is to have tooth-colored porcelain dental veneers placed over the affected teeth. Also referred to as dental porcelain laminates, veneers are cemented to the front of natural teeth. While this may sound like an appealing option, keep in mind that dental veneers are permanently attached. For this reason, it's important to understand what veneers are and when it makes sense to consider this option.
How Do Veneers Work?
The process for placing these laminates includes taking dental X-rays and examining the overall health of the tooth/teeth to be covered. Prior to placement, a small layer of enamel is removed. An impression of your tooth is taken so a customized veneer can be made. During placement, the tooth will be cleaned, polished, and etched. Usually made from porcelain or resin composite materials, the veneer itself will be trimmed and adjusted until it fits properly. Finally, special cement is used to attach the veneer.
How Do Porcelain Veneers Help with Teeth Stains?
One of the best part about veneers is the increased resistance to stains from cigarettes and highly pigmented foods. Even if professional whitening treatments take care of your stained enamel, you'll likely need to have such procedures done on a regular basis, especially if you routinely enjoy coffee and other beverages and foods likely to stain your teeth. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), veneers have very good stain-resistant properties. This means you could have fewer issues with discoloration and staining.
What If Your Teeth Have Minor Damage?
If you have a tooth with chips, cracks, and other minor cosmetic damage that's not seriously affecting the health of the affected tooth or the adjacent gums, veneers can be a quick and affordable way to cover up the damage. Dental porcelain laminates won't correct teeth. However, they can safely conceal imperfections. You'll still need to have a dental evaluate the overall health of your teeth and gums. In some cases, you may need other types of dental work prior to having laminates attached. Other tooth issues that may be safely masked with veneers include:
How Can Veneers Help with Damaged Enamel?
According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, veneers are an excellent choice if you're dealing with eroded or damage tooth enamel. From eating overly acidic foods to excess stomach acid from conditions like GERD or heartburn, there are many possible causes of tooth enamel deterioration. Enamel that's damaged for one reason or another can't be replaced. Even so, strategically placed veneers may be able to minimize the risk of future enamel loss.
What Happens After Veneers Are Placed?
Some people who get veneers experience an increased sensitivity to hot and cold when eating and drinking. Normally, this is just a temporary inconvenience that goes away within a relatively short period of time. If you do have any lingering tooth sensitivity, there are special products that may be able to ease your discomfort.
The only way to know for sure if dental veneers are right for you needs is to schedule an initial evaluation with a dentist. Veneers are considered permanent since the structure of natural teeth has to be changed to correctly place the laminates. If you are a good candidate for veneers and you're aware that you're choosing a long-term solution, you'll likely feel good about your choice.