Veneers can totally transform a smile. However, it’s important to know how veneers work, and how best to care for your new pearly whites. How do you choose which type is best? How much do veneers cost?
What are Veneers
Dental veneers were first invented by Californian dentist Charles Pincus in 1928 after an actor asked him to change her appearance in a film shoot. Though it worked for the still images, Pincus lacked a way to physically bond the veneers to the surface of the tooth.
It was only in 1959 that chemical and orthodontic knowledge had progressed to a point where veneers would become commercially viable. Porcelain and hydrofluoric acid were shown to reliably and predictably bond tooth enamel with composite resins.
Nowadays, veneers are well understood. They are purely cosmetic devices, that improve the size, shape, and color of a patient’s teeth. This is most often seen on the front teeth, thanks to their visibility, and very rarely seen implemented in the molars and other teeth situated at the back of the mouth.
Veneers are thin shells of ceramic, very white, and very stain resistant. They provide a very natural finish; they can also be altered to match the color of your existing teeth, in the case of an improved shape or solving a chipped tooth. The porcelain in the veneers helps mimic the light-reflecting ability of natural enamel, giving a brighter-looking smile. Modern veneers are also long-lasting, meaning once they’re implemented you no longer need to worry about taking them out.
How Veneers Work
The important component of veneers is the way in which they bond the thin shell of ceramic to the surface of the tooth. This is the process of grinding away a light layer of enamel, then applying a tooth-colored resin to the enamel surface. This bonds to the tubules in the tooth structure. This creates an incredible strength of adhesion.
Veneers offer a gentler approach to altering a tooth’s shape or color than crowns, as only a small amount of enamel has to be removed to fit the veneer. Yet they offer similar strength and very natural-looking results.
Types of veneers
It’s well established that appearance can play a major role in self-esteem. So it’s important to pick the right type of veneer for yourself.
These are the default type of veneer, offering small tooth-shaped plates that are bonded over a ground enamel surface. This makes them the strongest type of veneer, though it’s important to note that your teeth will be irrevocably reshaped during the application. Though this is covered by pristine veneers, it’s important to keep in mind. Some dental clinics even demand numbing shots or anesthesia.
Lumineers are about as thick as a contact lens. They do not require grinding and are generally pain-free. They are the thinnest and strongest type of dental veneer, though their very thin design can come at some cost. There is a tendency for lumineers to be translucent, showing a small amount of dark tooth through the veneer. They can also detach shortly after treatment if incorrectly bonded. Once attached, however, they last for well over 20 years.
Composites are also called bonded veneers. They use a composite plastic material that is bonded to an unground tooth. They require only one visit to a dental professional, as the composite material is then polished and smoothed once applied to your teeth. They last for 5 to 10 years. However, composites are more prone to chipping and staining than porcelains. With that said, they can easily be repaired in comparison to porcelains.
Whereas all of the previous veneer types have been purely cosmetic, palatal veneers actually sit behind the tooth. They’re considered a superior option for treating tooth damage caused by vomiting or severe acid reflux. They’re constructed in gold and applied usually to the inside of the upper teeth.
Non-permanent veneers are made from a flexible mix of resin material and plastic. These are available as kits you can buy online, and are also called clip-on veneers. These are a fantastic option when you’re considering veneers, or even if there’s a special occasion coming up that you want to look absolutely stunning for. They’re easily applied and removable. It’s important to note that non-permanent veneers are very fragile, however: avoid biting down on anything hard, and note that drinking hot drinks also risks melting very cheap veneers.