If you have teeth that look like a jigsaw of not-quite-matching shades or a few large gaps, then veneers are a common, affordable cosmetic dental solution.
What are veneers?
Veneers are designed to cover the front of your teeth – using a tooth-coloured material – to improve their shape, colour, size or length.
There are two main types – porcelain and composite resin. Both will do the job of making your teeth look better, but they’re different in the materials they’re made from and the way they’re put on to your teeth.
Think of them like this: a porcelain veneer is like a pre-made false fingernail that fits over your tooth, hiding all sorts of imperfections, while a composite resin veneer is like a coverage filling that can be used to mask staining or any defects on the tooth, or change its shape.
- This is a thin ceramic shell that covers the front of a tooth.
- It usually involves gently shaving a fine layer of enamel off first– some of the tooth surface has to be removed to make space for the veneer to be fitted over the tooth. After a week or so, when you come back in, then the lab-made veneer is bonded on to the tooth.
- Porcelain veneers generally last longer than composite resin ones, but they’ll be more expensive (although they’re getting cheaper all the time). They’re still the gold standard in this kind of cosmetic dentistry and the most aesthetically beautiful material that we can use, but the new generation of composite resin is very close in catching up.
- For most patients, if we don’t think we can fix more severe problems for them with composite resin, we’d probably recommend porcelain because it’s just a little bit better at doing certain things.
Composite resin veneers
- This type of veneer is made from a white tooth-coloured filling material that we do in the dentist’s chair, in the hands of a trained specialist.
- It’s a very simple, easy thing to do and it usually doesn’t involve any shaving of the teeth. Simply, layer on layer of resin is placed in fine increments over the tooth that is to be altered, until the desired shape and colour are achieved. We like to do these because it preserves more of your healthy tooth.
- They’re also quite a bit cheaper than porcelain veneers. The composite resin being used now is pretty amazing stuff (it’s so great that we find we’re doing fewer porcelain veneers).You can get about 10 to 15 years out of them.
Why opt for veneers?
Veneers can help with teeth that are:
- Stained. It’s especially good for deeply stained teeth that are beyond what tooth whitening can achieve.
- Misshapen. You can change the shape of your teeth, making them a little bit squarer or whatever you want.
- Gappy. We can close gaps in the front teeth and reunite them. You can use either porcelain or composite resin, but this would probably be the main use of resin.
- Chipped or have hairline cracks or worn edges
Looking after your veneers
The longevity of your veneers will depend on how you take care of them and whether you’re careful not to chip them – don’t open that bottle with your teeth! The reality is, nothing is permanent: they’re not going to look the same in five, 10, 20 years down the track and they’ll need ongoing maintenance.
- Porcelain. As beautiful as porcelain is and although, in a nutshell it’s more durable than composite resin, it still has the capability of chipping. Porcelain veneers can also get staining around them (red wine, etc). Your teeth with these veneers will have to be maintained by regular cleans like your normal teeth.
- Composite resin. These veneers will pick up some staining over time because, at the end of the day, they’re simply a white tooth filling. But the good thing is that you can just go back and add a bit more filling – it’s easy to modify and affordable to do. Teeth with these veneers will also require maintenance through regular cleans.
If you’re thinking about getting veneers, come in so our dentist can give you a run-through of the procedure involved before you make a decision. Call us now at Shepherds Hill Dental Centre, Adelaide, on 08 8278 6858 or book an appointment online.