What Are Veneers and How Long Do They Last?

Friday, May 31, 2019
What Are Veneers and How Long Do They Last?

Have you ever wondered “what are veneers” when considering cosmetic dentistry as a means of correcting your smile? While most people are familiar with orthodontia and teeth whitening, veneers are a lesser-known treatment used for aesthetic purposes. Patients who choose veneers often do so when their teeth don’t respond well to whitening, or don’t require significant orthodontic treatment.

Why Veneers?

Veneers are thin layers of porcelain or other strong materials that cover the front surface of the teeth. “Prepless” veneers require very little preparation or alteration of the existing tooth structure. They are applied to change the color, size, shape, and angle of the teeth. Whether you have crooked teeth or discolored enamel, veneers are a way to give your smile an almost instant makeover. They are manufactured in a dental laboratory and can often be applied on the same day.

If you’ve tried teeth whitening in the past with limited success, veneers offer an alternative approach that will often yield better results. When teeth are discolored from the inside, traditional bleaching may not have long-lasting effects. The teeth may simply revert back to their original stained state sooner than expected. With veneers, you will benefit from a permanent “cover” for the teeth. As long as you keep the veneers clean and well-maintained, you can enjoy white teeth for years to come!

How Does It Work?

The process of placing veneers is fairly straightforward. You can expect about three trips in total to the dentist: one for the consultation, and two to make and apply the veneers. Here are the major steps of a veneer procedure:

  1. What Are VeneersDiagnosis and treatment plan development. At your first cosmetic consultation, you should explain what you envision for your teeth. Your dentist will examine your teeth and assess your oral health to determine whether additional treatment is required before veneers are placed. X-rays will be taken to rule out the possibility of cavities. If cavities or gum disease are present, you will need to receive the appropriate treatment prior to veneer application.
  2. Preparation. On your second visit, the dentist will remove approximately ½ millimeter of enamel from the surface of the tooth, which is the approximate width of the veneer. Following this removal process, a model of your teeth will be made and sent to the dental laboratory. The laboratory will custom-manufacture veneers to match the specific teeth being treated in two to four weeks. Temporary veneers may be placed while you wait for the final porcelain veneers to arrive. However, if you opt for composite veneers, these can often be fabricated on the same day as the placement procedure.
  3. Bonding. The dentist will compare the veneer’s tooth and color to your other teeth before application. The veneer may need to be trimmed to achieve proper fit and the color can also be adjusted using cement. Next, the teeth will be prepared with a cleaning, polishing, and etching procedure. The dentist will roughen the tooth to ensure a strong bonding with the veneer.

After cement is placed on the veneer, the dentist will position it on the tooth and shine a special light to activate the bonding process. The chemicals in the cement harden (or cure) very quickly with this light. Finally, the dentist will remove excess cement and make any necessary adjustments. A follow-up appointment may be recommended in order to check how your gums respond to the presence of the veneers.

Composite or Porcelain?

Most people end up choosing either porcelain or composite veneers, although instant and removable veneers are also options for people on a budget. Veneers made from composite material are less expensive than porcelain and last about five to seven years. Their lower price makes them easier to replace when compared to porcelain. Also, composite veneers can often be fabricated and placed all within a single office visit. They are used to fix minor cosmetic issues and close gaps between the teeth.

Porcelain veneers are more expensive because of their higher quality. Porcelain veneers require additional preparation time and manufacturing in an off site lab. Their high level of polish makes them ideal for people who want a cosmetic treatment that resists stains and discoloration over the long run. Porcelain is also incredibly strong, forming a protective layer around the teeth. Porcelain veneers shield the teeth from cracks and chips while delivering a high level of aesthetic appeal.

Cosmetic Dentistry at Penn Dental Family Practice

If you want to learn more about what veneers are and how they can help you meet your aesthetic goals, the cosmetic dentists at Penn Dental Family Practice would love to meet with you. Our skilled staff is committed to ensuring that each patient achieves the beautiful, healthy smile they’ve always wanted.

With our comprehensive array of specialties, you can be sure that all your dental needs will be met when you choose us. Each dentist collaborates within our streamlined system of care to help patients attain the highest level of oral health and well-being. That means if you visit us for cosmetic reasons but find out that you need to treat an underlying condition first, you will be able to receive all your dental care under the same roof. To learn more about how Penn Dental Family Practice can assist you, please call 215-898-7337 to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more about cosmetic dentistry treatments in this free eBook.