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What are Dental Veneers?

Article Details
  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 04 April 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Dental veneers are extremely thin porcelain shells custom made to fit over existing teeth. Dental veneers can improve the color, shape, and to an extent, the aesthetic alignment of teeth. They can be a great way to brighten and perfect a smile without resorting to having teeth “capped” or crowned. Dental veneers can be made for a single damaged tooth or for several teeth.

Getting dental veneers requires a few office visits. The first visit should be dedicated to discussing whether or not veneers are the best choice to improve your smile. Some common reasons for getting dental veneers include chipped or broken teeth, discolored teeth, or excessive space between teeth.

If patient and doctor decide on dental veneers, another appointment will probably be set for preparing the teeth and taking impressions. Teeth to be treated will be taken down a few millimeters to allow for the thickness of the dental veneers. Otherwise, the bonded material can push the lips outward and teeth can appear “horsey.”

Impressions are sent to a dental lab where the dental veneers are custom made. This can take one to two weeks. Finally, the patient returns to have the veneers bonded and shaped.

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Porcelain is a popular material for dental veneers because it reflects light like a real tooth and therefore looks very natural. It also resists stains. However, there are some drawbacks. Porcelain can chip or crack, so care must be taken to avoid chewing hard foods like ice cubes or engaging in poor habits like biting nails or using the front teeth to tear open packaging. People who grind their teeth are not generally considered good candidates for dental veneers.

Resin bonding is another form of aesthetic dentistry closely associated with dental veneers. In resin bonding, the teeth require little preparation and the dentist molds the material directly onto the tooth. A special light cures or hardens the material in seconds. The dentist can then shape the hardened resin by sanding it.

Resin bonding has the advantage of being less expensive than dental veneers, and can be done in less time since impressions are not required. However, resin stains more easily than porcelain, and the resin might chip off. That said, resin bonding is easier to repair than dental veneers.

Whether resin bonding or dental veneers are right for you will depend upon many factors that your dentist should be happy to discuss with you. Dental veneers reportedly last 5-10 years before needing replacement, while resin bonding may need replacement in 3-10 years. Dental veneers can cost $500 US dollars (USD) per tooth, while resin bonding, $100-400 USD per tooth.

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