What are veneers?
In the old days the only way to cover up a tooth’s imperfections was to trim the tooth down for a porcelain crown. This was very destructive and involved all the surfaces of the tooth, even though it may only be the front of the tooth that is noticeable.
A veneer is a covering; in dentistry we usually cover or mask the anterior teeth to change their colour or shape. Veneers involve only 1-3 surfaces of the tooth. Veneers were first used in dentistry in 1928. They range in thickness from 0.3mm-1mm+.
A veneer can be used to cover up:
- discoloured fillings
- misshapen teeth
- spaces between teeth
- to build out narrow teeth
- whiten discoloured teeth
- make teeth look straighter
- make teeth look longer or shorter
- make teeth look younger or to regenerate your smile
- to widen a smile
Some actors and entertainers hit the big time and want an instant makeover, especially if they have a very poor smile. The most famous example of this is Tom Cruise.
Tom is also famous for having an off-centre centreline. The centreline is the line where the front 2 incisors meet and is usually underneath the nose tip.
Some cultures prefer a crooked smile and actually have veneers bonded to make their smile more youthful and pre-pubescent. This can be seen in Japan as the Yaeba or double tooth trend.
This lady has had fang veneers added onto her original teeth
Veneers can be made of composite filling material that is usually built directly over the teeth, or porcelain where they are made from impressions of your teeth.
We normally take impressions of your own teeth and create a 3D or a wax solid mock-up of the new shapes of the veneers or smile makeover. This way you can visualise the new smile and even try it out.
Wax up and 3D simulation of a smile makeover
The mock up can be templated and the template tried in the mouth over your existing teeth.
The teeth in most cases need preparation whereby 0.3-1mm of the outer enamel is removed; this makes the space for any rotations and for the veneer itself.
During the temporary phase for porcelain veneers we can place temporary acrylic temporaries.
After about 1 week the porcelain veneers are made, tried in for shade and then bonded onto the teeth.
Mock up over the teeth
Porcelain veneer makeover
There are many different brands of veneer with different types of porcelain composition:
- Emax Ceramic
- Zirconium ceramic
- Lithium disilicate (very thin and relatively very strong porcelain)
- Da Vinci (Very thin porcelain)
- Mac (High resistance to stains and relatively strong)
- Acrylic (No longer in use for quality work)
- Nano Ceramic
How long do veneers last?
Veneers once bonded rarely come off; it is very rare for all 6-8 veneers to debond. Sometimes 1 may debond or chip due to bite issues or bonding was contaminated with saliva. In our experience we have never had a patient ask for our original veneers to be replaced.
In our experience our veneers can last up to 30 years.
Do they need changing?
Sometimes the patient may have a little gum shrinkage over 1-2 veneers or the bite issue cause repeat debonds. The veneer can then be replaced by modifying the preparation. You would be wearing a temporary veneer during this process.
It has been known for a patient or celebrity to change the whole set of veneers for whiter ones, such as Simon Cowell.
NHS veneers appear very bulky and are chipped and opaque and were replaced
Do veneers hurt?
No your teeth would be anaesthetised whilst the teeth are prepared and a week later when the veneers are bonded on.
Can I have veneers within 1 week?
Yes you can, once we agree on the mock up we can offer a rapid turnaround but there is an additional cost. Usually we need a week between both appointments.
How much will you shave off my teeth?
We normally prepare 0.5mm-1mm of the front surface of the tooth.
In younger patients where they have crowding, we always recommend Invisalign orthodontics to straighten the teeth before placing veneers.
In older patients the depth of enamel or dentine has increased for us to prepare the teeth a little more.
Are the teeth safe underneath?
It has been known that some teeth experience sensitivity initially but that can diminish over time.
In cases where the tooth has experienced trauma or heavy brace treatment that the nerve may fail in 1-2 teeth.
Root canal treatment can be carried out and this would not affect the veneer.
We advise against heavy deep preparation of the teeth and always advocate Invisalign beforehand.
What happens if a veneer comes off?
We can rebond the veneer the same day during the week. If you are on holiday it is advised to see a local dentist to do this for you.
Do veneers have different translucencies?
Yes depending on the type of filler in the porcelain. Zirconium for example if very opaque and is generally used more posteriorly. Emax is either layered onto Zirconium or used alone and is more translucent.
What is Snap on smile?
This is an acrylic template fabricated from your impression and it clicks into place over your teeth when one is on a night out. We do not recommend or offer this service.
Veneer or crown?
A crown involves the whole tooth and can involve more preparation and less translucency.
A veneer is more translucent and less invasive.
Do veneers stain?
Porcelain does not stain or attract germs. Composite can stain and easily chip or wear down.
Are veneers reversible?
No, veneers are not reversible – this is because the enamel underneath the veneer is glued onto or prepared and so is never the same again.