To ‘veneer’ is to overlay a surface with some material such as a fine wood, ivory or tortoise shell as used in construction. However, veneers are also used by dentists and they come in a variety of materials, the most common being porcelain.
Porcelain veneers are thin pieces of restorative material which are bonded to the outside of a tooth that has been colored and shaped. They are used to change the shape, color, size, or appearance of teeth. Think of veneers as being similar to false fingernails. They are both approximately the same thickness. At Laser Dental Associates, the CEREC CAD/CAM system may used to fabricate porcelain veneers in a single appointment.
Everything has a life expectancy, and porcelain veneers are no exception. They last a minimum of five to ten years, or more. This is determined, however, by the material that is used, the tooth that is restored, the bite relationship between that tooth and opposing teeth, the diet of the individual, and the home care that the individual utilizes. Porcelain veneers require special care, more so because a good portion of the color of the veneer comes from the underlying tooth. As time goes on, if the underlying tooth starts to change color (i.e. darkening with age), the veneer will also change color, possibly requiring it to be replaced. It’s also important not to get the veneers knocked by eating utensils or coffee mugs because they can crack or become dislodged. Other than these precautions, brushing and flossing should normally take good care of porcelain veneers.
While porcelain veneers are durable and esthetically pleasing, there are alternatives. Full coverage porcelain crowns are one alternative. Also instead of porcelain veneers, one can have a direct-applied veneer which are made from directly applied filling materials. Unfortunately, these are not as durable or aesthetic as porcelain veneers.
A porcelain veneer will not protect the tooth from decay: there are margins where the porcelain ends on the tooth, which if not cleaned and protected will decay. However, porcelain veneers will make your natural teeth look much better.