What Is It?
Veneers are ultra thin shells of ceramic or resin material that are bonded to the front of teeth, much in the same way that artificial fingernails are attached to the natural fingernails. The only requirement is that the teeth be structurally sound.

What It's Used For
Veneers are used to correct cosmetic defects on teeth or to correct the bite (the way the teeth come together). Cosmetic imperfections that can be corrected with veneers include teeth that are slightly crooked or stained, chipped teeth, gaps between teeth or uneven teeth. In the past, the only way to correct these or other imperfections was to cover the teeth with crowns.

The advantage of veneers over crowns is that the teeth need less extensive shaping prior to the procedure. Sometimes this means that little or no anesthetic is required. However, some teeth will require more extensive shaping before getting veneers.

Veneers made from porcelain or resin look natural. Porcelain veneers resist stains from coffee, tea or smoking better than resin veneers. On the other hand, resin veneers can be made thinner so that less tooth structure needs to be removed before they are applied. Your dentist will decide whether to use porcelain or resin based on your circumstances.

Veneers usually require three dental visits: one for a consultation and two to complete the veneers.

During your first visit, your dentist will examine your teeth to make sure veneers are appropriate for you. He or she will explain what the procedure will involve and some of the limitations.

How It's Done
On the second visit, your dentist may need to remove up to 1.5 millimeters of enamel to accommodate the thickness of the veneers. In some cases, no enamel has to be removed. This procedure is not painful, but it may be uncomfortable for some people. Your dentist will use a local anesthetic if necessary.

Next, your dentist will take an impression of the teeth, which will be sent to a dental laboratory. The laboratory will manufacture the veneers to fit your teeth. It usually takes one or two weeks for the veneers to be made. A temporary veneer may be applied during this time.

The veneers will be applied during the third visit. Your dentist will apply them temporarily with water or glycerin, so he or she can check the fit and color and you can see what they will look like. If the color of the veneers or cement is not quite right, it can be adjusted. Sometimes the veneer will need to be sent back to the laboratory to get the ideal shade.

Once you're satisfied with the veneers, your dentist will clean your teeth thoroughly and cement the veneers with bonding agents, which are hardened with a high-intensity light.

It can take time for you to get used to the appearance and feel of your new teeth, but you won't have to do anything special to care for them. You should be careful not to bite your nails, chew on pencils, ice or other hard objects, or otherwise put unnecessary pressure on your teeth, because the veneers can come off.

You won't have to change the way you floss or brush. Your dentist probably will ask you to come back in a few weeks so he or she can check the veneers for any problems.

If enamel is removed, your teeth can become sensitive.

The veneers may not match the color of your other teeth exactly.

Veneers may fall off. A temporary veneer is more likely to fall off because it needs to be attached in such a way that it can be easily removed.



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