What Is A Veneer?

A veneer is a thin, tooth-colored porcelain restoration that covers the front-facing portion of the tooth in order to improve aesthetics. You can think of a veneer as an enamel replacement on the front, visible portion of the tooth. Veneers are also sometimes called porcelain veneers or porcelain laminates. They are bonded to the natural teeth permanently and are generally used on the front teeth, but can be used on back teeth as well depending on how many teeth show when the patient smiles.

When are veneers used?

porcelain-veneersVeneers are a great option for correcting cosmetic concerns in a patient’s smile. Indications for veneers include the following:

  • Staining
  • Worn or misshapen teeth
  • Chipping
  • Crowding
  • Spacing
  • Rotation
  • Failing existing bonding or fillings

What are the benefits of veneers?

The advantages of veneers are many:

  • Highly esthetic
  • Strong
  • Natural in appearance
  • Improved bite
  • Conservative preparation to tooth
  • Ability to complete in just a few appointments 

What are veneers made from?

Veneers are made from highly esthetic porcelain, which is able to closely mimic the appearance of natural tooth enamel and meet even the most demanding cosmetic desires of the patient. Current porcelains used for veneers are also very strong and long-lasting. In the past, veneers were known to be great-looking but weak and prone to chipping with time. Modern porcelains used today are both highly esthetic and much stronger than those used in decades past. There are a number of different types of porcelain that are used today depending on each patient’s unique needs and situation. Some have added strength for use in patients with a strong bite or who grind their teeth. Others are able to be made to match the texture and translucency of enamel so well it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between the veneers and natural tooth. The ability to meet both of these goals—strength and optimal esthetics—is our goal here at 44 West Dental Professionals. We have sought focused training on the best way to deliver veneer treatment for our patients and are happy to discuss how veneers might be able to meet your goals.

How are veneers made?

Treatment with veneers is generally performed in a few visits. Here is a summary of what will be done at those visits:

  1. First, we like to spend time with the patient discussing their desires and goals for their veneers. Everyone has different wishes and expectations, and we have found that the best result can be attained by spending additional time prior to treatment getting to know the patient so that we know the optimal way to design their case. In addition to these discussions, we also will take s series of photographs and impressions of the existing condition of the teeth. From these impressions, we will create a custom design for the veneers on the teeth models prior to proceeding with the second step, which is when the teeth are prepared for the veneer treatment. We believe this first step—where we spend time getting to know the patient and their custom design—is incredibly important and something that many dentists do not take the time to do. We view this process as similar to that of an architect, where spending more time in the beginning before ever even touching a tooth leads to a more predictable and exceptional outcome for the patient.
  2. Once the case has been properly planned and designed, the next step is to prepare the teeth and make a set of provisional (temporary) veneers. This preparation is done using local anesthesia so it is completely painless. Once the teeth are prepared, we fabricate the provisional veneers. The step of spending time with the provisionals is another one that we believe is often overlooked but is incredibly important. The provisional veneers are made based off of the design from Step 1, and we use these as a “trial smile” to try out the shape, color, and bite of the final veneers. Along with the initial design, we use the provisionals as another way to communicate to the dental lab the final shape, color, and details to use for the final veneers.
  3. The final step is to cement the veneers and make any adjustments so that the bite and fit are perfect. We will go over the best way to maintain the veneers so they provide many years of service for the patient.

Are there any alternatives to veneers?

Alternatives to VeneersDepending on the clinical situation, alternative treatments include porcelain crowns or cosmetic bonding (bonded white composite fillings). As discussed above, porcelain crowns are able to achieve a similar result to veneers. Crowns are generally recommended in place of crowns in certain clinical situations, including teeth that are very crowded, if teeth have had a history of root canal treatment, or if the teeth are broken down or fractured. “Cosmetic bonding” refers to the used of white composite filling material that can be bonded to the teeth directly and in one visit without having to take an impression. Cosmetic bonding can improve the appearance of teeth dramatically, and we at 44 West Dental Professionals only use the best materials for achieving optimal results. When compared with veneers, cosmetic bonding is not quite as esthetic as veneers and generally doesn’t last as long. The benefits of cosmetic bonding are that it takes fewer visits to complete and is less expensive than veneer treatment. For more on treatment using composite bonding, visit our fillings page.

What is the difference between a crown and a veneer?

When used on front teeth, crowns and veneers are very similar to one another. They are made from the same or similar materials and are able to meet even the highest aesthetic demands. The main difference is in the way a tooth is prepared for a veneer versus a crown. Veneer preparations are generally focused to the top and forward-facing surfaces of the tooth whereas crown preparations circle the tooth 360°. Veneer preparations, therefore, result in the removal of less tooth structure and are more conservative. Both types of restorations offer the same cosmetic opportunities. The style of preparation is determined by the individual clinical situation and condition of the tooth. For more on crowns, visit our crowns page.

How do I know if veneers are right for me?

Dr. Jason Doublestein, Dr. Michael Wierenga, and Dr. Katelyn Trierweiler along with our dedicated staff here at 44 West Dental Professionals are trained and experienced in the delivery of excellent veneer treatment for our patients. If you are interested in improving your smile, give us a call at (616) 530-2200 to set up a consultation today!

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