Veneers are restorations that cover the face of the tooth. They can be used in many situations to improve the appearance of the smile and are a minimally invasive technique that can be used with predictability. Veneers are only suitable for specific cases and must be carefully treatment planned.
Veneers can either be fabricated from porcelain or composite (white filling).
Porcelain veneers can be made in as little as 0.5mm thin which means that they can be placed on a tooth with minimal or no preparation. The inner surface of the veneer that is bonded to the tooth is specially treated to ensure that the high bond strength is achieved and the outer surface is glazed or polished so that it mimics the natural surface of the tooth and retains its colour.
The tooth is usually minimally prepared and the preparation is kept within the enamel; the outer surface of a tooth.
Porcelain veneers are an irreversible form of treatment. Even if they are bonded to the teeth without preparation of the tooth, the surface of the enamel is treated in a certain way in order to bond the porcelain to the tooth and therefore they cannot be removed without being replaced.
Porcelain veneers can last for a long time. Longevity is dependent on the initial treatment planning, care of the veneers once they have been placed, regular maintenance, and habits of the patients such as alcohol intake, smoking, oral hygiene etc.
The life span of veneers can be as long as fifteen to twenty years. After this period of time they will not just come off. The reason replacement is sometimes necessary is that they can begin to look slightly aged and worn, the extent of this is still less than natural teeth as the glaze can prevent the veneers from discolouring.
These veneers are made from white filling material. They can either be built up in layers by hand by the dentist using a combination of colours and techniques in order to produce a life like appearance or they can be prefabricated and then bonded to the tooth. They are bonded in the same way as a porcelain veneer is.
The process of making composite veneers at chair side is very time consuming and can take up to ten to fifteen hours of total appointment time in order to make them adequately and for them to look natural and have the correct contour.