Dental veneers are a form of cosmetic dentistry in which a shell or layer of tooth-coloured porcelain or composite is placed over the facial surfaces of your tooth to correct worn tooth enamel, uneven tooth alignment or spacing, discolouration and chips or cracks. Although dental veneers fall into the category of cosmetic dentistry because they create bright, white smiles with beautifully aligned, shapely teeth, they also protect the surface of damaged teeth and may eliminate the need for more extensive treatments. Other benefits of veneers include durability, an improved smile appearance, and the need for little-to-no removal of tooth structure compared to crowns.
Regardless of what causes unattractive teeth, dental veneers may solve many cosmetic dental issues, including:
- Worn enamel – over time enamel may become worn, dull and discoloured. Such wear and discolouration may be natural or result from a genetic predisposition. However, it often results from consuming soft drinks, tea or coffee, smoking, using certain medications, etc.
- Wear and tear – teeth naturally wear down as people age. Aged teeth are more likely to have chips, cracks or a generally uneven appearance.
- Genetics – some people are born with abnormal spacing between their teeth that widens with age.
- Uneven teeth – uneven teeth can result from teeth grinding or general wear and tear.
Not everyone is a good candidate for veneers. There are some reasons why your dentist may suggest treatments other than veneers:
- If a tooth has decay or is in an area that has periodontal disease (gum disease). These problems must be treated first.
- If a tooth has little enamel left, a veneer will not stick to it properly.
- If too much of the tooth is missing, a crown may be another option.
- If a person grinds or clenches his or her teeth. This habit is called bruxism and can chip or break porcelain veneers.
The two most common materials used to fabricate or create dental veneers are composite resin and porcelain. Indirect (created outside of your mouth) porcelain and composite veneers are made by a dental technician in a dental laboratory; direct (created directly on your teeth) composite veneers are made by your dentist during your appointment at the dental practice. Porcelain veneers are more appropriate solutions for severe cases involving dullness, wear, discolouration, extensive chipping, cracking, spacing or uneven teeth. Porcelain veneers are stronger than composite resin veneers and do not change colour or stain. They also last longer than composite veneers. Composite bonding – which refers to direct composite veneers – is an inexpensive, effective and minimally invasive way to restore and correct small chips, cracks or discolouration in the teeth.
The removal of any natural tooth structure is permanent so dentists in Westport Dental Centre prefer to offer patients the most minimally invasive options first. If your natural teeth are functionally and aesthetically adequate, dental veneers may not be an appropriate treatment for you. However, if you have severely dull or discoloured teeth, your treatment options may include porcelain or composite veneers. Veneers do have added benefits of longevity and a proven ability to enhance the appearance of the mouth, smile and other facial features that are better supported by properly shaped teeth.
Porcelain dental veneers or direct composite veneers may require the “shaping” or “prepping” of all teeth being treated. Therefore, our dentists may first recommend teeth whitening to patients with mildly discoloured teeth who want a whiter and brighter smile because it is the least invasive cosmetic dentistry option. If crooked teeth or alignment issues are involved, whitening also may be combined with orthodontic treatments, including INVISALIGN or Inman Aligner.