A veneer is a thin layer of porcelain made to fit over the front of a tooth surface, like a false nail fits over a fingernail. Veneers provide an aesthetic solution where front teeth have discoloured, clipped, rotated or moved position.
They cause very minimal damage to the tooth surface and can easily change a patients smile.
Fillings and crowns are alternatives to veneers but it will depend on what your aesthetic needs are.
There are limitations of each type of treatment. Veneers can last for many years but care must be taken to look after them. It normally takes 2 appointments; the first to prepare the tooth and match the shade and the second to fit the veneer.
Veneers can be provided on the NHS in certain conditions but often they would be provided privately as they are predominantly done for cosmetic purposes.
Q What are the advantages of veneers?
A Veneers make teeth look natural and healthy, and because they are very thin and are held in place by a special strong bond (rather like super-glue) very little removal of the tooth is needed.
Q When would I need a veneer?
A Veneers can improve the colour, shape and position of teeth. A precise shade of porcelain can be chosen to give the right colour to improve a single discoloured or stained tooth or to lighten front teeth (usually the upper ones) generally. A veneer can make a chipped tooth look intact again. The porcelain covers the whole of the front of the tooth with a thicker section replacing the broken part. Veneers can also be used to close small gaps, when orthodontics (braces) are not suitable. If one tooth is slightly out of position, a veneer can sometimes be fitted to bring it into line with the others.
Q What about alternatives?
A A natural-coloured filling material can be used for minor repairs to front teeth. This is excellent where the tooth supports the filling, but may not work so well for broken tooth corners. There will always be a join between the tooth and the filling material.
Crowns are used for teeth that need to be strengthened – either because they have broken, have been weakened by a very large filling, or have had root canal treatment.