Veneers for teeth are hot right now. Their popularity was enhanced by some of the extreme make over shows and a great ad/marketing campaign by one of the manufactures of the Veneers used on that show. Since most veneers are porcelain, the effort to promote one type over another was amusing to most dentist. Porcelain is used to make most crowns or veneers and the material has fairly consistent properties. Some materials are harder and stronger than others, but the ultimate appearance of the porcelain veneer is the same. In other words it is going to match the shade or color the dentist selected with the patient’s input as to what color they wanted their teeth to be. Colors or shades, to the dentist, can be “tweaked” at cementation by the dentist.

Veneers are a versatile means to improve the appearance of many teeth. The shape, color and arrangement can be changed with veneers. In fact one of the most versatile things about veneers is that in some situations they can be placed on teeth without  drilling on the teeth at all.  This process does use a special porcelain and a high pressure pressing technique. The result can produce a very thin veneer–0.3mm in thickness, which is not much at all. The final color of a veneer can be adjusted by the dentist at cementation using different color cements. This can enhance the existing color of the teeth, or mask more serious discoloration in certain cases.

But not all teeth can be veneered. In some situations, the bite or occlusion on a tooth or teeth can make the veneer weak, or likely to pop off the tooth due to the chewing forces exerted on it.  It is important to keep in mind, that unlike a crown, the veneer is bonded onto the tooth. It does not rely on any mechanical retention, or friction to hold in it place– only the wonders of chemistry. Prior to cementation, the tooth is treated with chemicals to aid in the bonding process. The veneer itself must also be treated with some of the same chemicals including silane–another amazing product from the space program. Silane bonds inorganic substances to organic substances–for example the ceramic titles used to dissipate heat on the surface of a  space shuttle. For teeth this means a porcelain veneer to the surface of the tooth.

Another situation which might present some problems are badly discolored teeth. Teeth that suffer from enamel damaged by excess fluoride or other chemical discoloration from drugs like tetracycline might present some challenges for the veneer process. Another type of staining that can be a problem is teeth that suffer from discoloration due to a patient who had a high fever as a young child.  Depending on the severity of the process, a veneer may or may not work. In those difficult situation, a full coverage crown would be indicated.

When discussing veneers with your dentist, it is best to be very specific about what results you are looking for . Many times a diagnostic wax up is indicated. This utilizes a stone cast of your teeth, which the dental laboratory waxes up teeth to look like what can done with veneers to change the appearance of your natural teeth. This way you can see the results before anything is done and you have the flexibility to make changes prior to starting work on your teeth.

Veneers are another option in improving your smile or restoring broken down and decayed teeth.They can be used with conventional crowns, or removable partials to provide you with a versatile part of the puzzle piece to put things back in order so you have a better bite and a dazzling new smile