Restorative and cosmetic dentistry offer plenty of options for anyone in need of a smile makeover. From crowns to teeth whitening and more, dentists have many tools at their disposal to help improve the appearance and function of teeth.
Veneers are one of the tools in the proverbial toolbelt of dental professionals and can correct many concerns had by dental professionals and their patients.
What Are Veneers?
Veneers have a long history of use in dentistry, beginning as a temporary alteration to the teeth of acting professionals. Over time, the value of permanent tooth coverings was recognized, and the modern version of veneers was born.
The Purpose of Veneers
Veneers are used for several different applications in cosmetic dentistry, but they may be used to create stronger or more resilient teeth. Porcelain veneers and resin veneers are durable materials that can actually improve the appearance and strength of teeth. The precise purpose of veneers varies from person to person and even dentist to dentist, as all dental treatment plans differ according to the needs of the patient and the requirements of the treating dentist.
Veneers are often used to improve the appearance of teeth, both in terms of evenness and color. Veneers do not stain or discolor as quickly or easily as natural teeth and can provide a consistently bright smile. Veneers can also fortify natural teeth with chips or cracks and prevent further damage, erosion, or cracking.
As we’ve discussed, veneers are typically made of either ceramic (also called porcelain) or a composite resin. These compounds are chosen for their ability to mimic the appearance of teeth and for their durability. When cared for properly, veneers can easily last for 15-20 years before they need to be replaced.
To fit the teeth easily, without changing the appearance or feel of the teeth, veneers are made with an extremely thin shell of ceramic or resin. The shell is not thin enough to be easily damaged. However, it is thin enough to be affixed to the surface of the teeth without compromising the general structure of your jaw and the fit of your teeth together.
How Veneers Make Over Your Smile
Veneers are used to hide a host of cosmetic issues, in addition to improving functionality. Although veneers may have a strong reputation as cosmetic implements, dentists use them for far more than simply changing the general appearance of teeth. Making teeth even, improving the color of teeth, hiding breaks and cracks, and masking intrinsic imperfections are some of the more common uses for veneers.
Creating an Even Grin
Veneers can be used to make teeth appear more even or uniform. When teeth are crowded, uneven, or of extremely different sizes, veneers can be used to create a more consistent appearance. Although this is not typically considered a necessary procedure, there are some instances in which veneers are used to make teeth even to stave off issues related to crowding, including decay and difficulty cleaning.
Matching Color to Your Teeth
Veneers can be useful for people who have experienced an advanced degree of staining and those whose teeth are not responding to teeth whitening. Because natural teeth can reach a point wherein whitening is no longer possible, some dental patients may choose to use dental veneers to create a consistent, bright smile.
Hiding Breaks and Cracks
Teeth can chip, break, and crack for a variety of reasons. Weak enamel, sports injuries, and accidents are the most common reasons for chipping, cracking, and breaking, and the teeth cannot always be repaired through bonding and other procedures. Veneers can match the original appearance of the teeth with aplomb and eliminate the appearance of chipped, cracked, or broken teeth.
Masking Intrinsic Imperfections
Intrinsic imperfections are those imperfections that cannot be remedied by more effective oral hygiene practices or changes to one’s dental routine. From chronically discolored teeth to slight irregularities in the shape of teeth to some crowding, veneers can offer a simple, tooth-colored solution for imperfections that cannot be remedied in any other way.
Veneers have been in use for around 80+ years, but that does not mean that they are always the preferred treatment route. Although veneers can be an incredibly valuable tool in treating dental needs, they do come with some potential drawbacks, including the inability to reverse the procedure and their limited life expectancy.
The process of installing veneers involves essentially “shaving” down the tooth’s surface to create a surface that will successfully adhere to a veneer with a bonding material.
Once veneers have been applied to the surface of teeth, teeth cannot be separated from that veneer without being replaced with another shell. This is because the procedure removes a great deal of the tooth’s enamel to make space for the ceramic or resin shell, and the inner portion of the tooth would be exposed without a veneer.
15-20 Year Life Expectancy
Unlike natural teeth, veneers cannot be expected to last for the entirety of a person’s life. The nature of veneers means that they are extremely durable and can withstand plenty of time and use, but they will eventually break down or wear down over time. After 15-20 years, veneers must be replaced by your dentist. At this point, teeth should last another 15-20 years before they must be replaced.
Are Veneers Right for You?
Veneers can be used to correct a variety of dental issues, some of them purely cosmetic and some of them largely functional. Although veneers have a reputation as an unnecessary procedure, they can actually be a part of a targeted dental treatment plan to strengthen and improve the teeth and ward off further injury, decay, or damage.