A dental veneer (sometimes called a shell) is a thin covering that is placed over the front of the teeth. Veneers are made from ceramic, porcelain, resin-based composite, or acrylic. Custom-made shells are created by dental lab technicians and permanently bonded to the teeth.
Reasons for Procedure
In most cases, dental veneers are an elective dental procedure. This means they are not medically necessary. You might choose to have veneers if you have teeth that are:
Chipped or worn
Slightly crooked or uneven
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your dentist will review potential problems, like:
Sensitivity to hot and cold—This usually goes away after a few days.
Veneer may chip or crack—Veneers are strong, but they may also break on occasion. You should not put excessive strain on them, such as biting your fingernails or chewing ice.
Stains or cavities can form under the veneer—Especially if veneers are not fully placed or sealed onto your tooth.
Talk to your dentist about these risks before the procedure. If you grind or clench your teeth, your dentist may recommend a nighttime bite guard to protect your veneers.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
If you are interested in getting dental veneers, you can meet with your dentist to discuss:
What you do not like about your teeth, such as discoloration or slight crookedness
What you want your teeth to look like
Whether you are a candidate for veneers
Which kind of veneers are right for you
Your dentist will explain the procedure and anything you should do to prepare.
You will have a local anesthetic for some parts of the procedure. This means that the dentist will numb only the part of your mouth that is being worked on.
Description of the Procedure
Depending on the kind of veneer you choose, you may need to make several visits to the dentist before your veneers are complete.
To make room for the veneers, the top layer of enamel will be removed from your teeth. A local anesthetic, which may a gel that is rubbed on your gums or an injection, may be given. The dentist will take a mold of your teeth and send it to a dental lab. The lab will make veneers to fit your teeth. This may take several days.
At your next visit, a mild chemical will be put on your teeth. This will create a rough surface for the veneer to bond to. The veneers will be carefully attached to your teeth using special cement. In some cases, a light-sensitive resin will be used to attach the veneer. A special light will be used to cure and harden the resin.
How Long Will It Take?
The procedure will take several hours. You may have to wait a few days between visits for your veneers to be created in a dental lab.
Will It Hurt?
You may have some minor pain. You will be given a local anesthetic for some steps of the procedure. Talk to your dentist if your mouth is sore after the procedure. An over-the-counter pain reliever may be advised.
You will be able to leave right after the procedure.
When you return home:
Caring for your veneers may include:
Not putting too much strain on your teeth, such as by biting your fingernails or chewing ice.
Avoiding substances that may stain your veneers, like coffee, tea, or red wine.
You can return to your regular oral hygiene routine. Brush your teeth twice each day and floss between your teeth at least once a day.
Your dentist will schedule regular visits to inspect your veneers and polish them if needed.
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