A veneer tooth is a tooth that has a thin layer of porcelain or a resin composite laminate bonded onto the surface of the tooth. Most patients who choose to have veneers applied do so to improve the aesthetics and appearance of their teeth. The laminate is designed to mimic the outward appearance of natural teeth, and is actually quite thin. In many instances it is no thicker than a fingernail or a contact lens.
Dental veneers may improve the appearance of those with uneven teeth, large spacing between teeth, severely discolored teeth, and teeth that show signs of wear and tear. The original concept of a veneer tooth is generally attributed to a California dentist named Charles Pincus in the 1930s. At that time the technology was not advanced enough to have a veneer tooth be anything more than a temporary solution, which was used primarily by actors and actresses in Hollywood, California.
Dental veneers became a viable option for those seeking to improve the appearance of their teeth in the early 1980s, when a semi-permanent method of bonding the veneer to the teeth was discovered. A patient who has a veneer tooth can reasonably expect it to last approximately five to seven years for a composite veneer and ten to fifteen years for a porcelain veneer, under normal use and conditions.
The application of dental veneers is a multi-step process. Patients will usually have an initial consultation with a dentist to discuss whether or not veneers are the best course of option for them. It is during the initial consultation that a dentist will discuss the patient’s reason for wanting veneers and the desired outcome and results.
Once the decision to apply veneers has been made, the teeth will be prepared by buffing the surface down and reshaping when necessary. Then, the dentist will make a mold of the patient’s teeth in order to craft the veneers. The mold ensures that the veneers will fit the unique shape and contour of a patient’s teeth. Because of the prep work done to the teeth, many dentists will apply temporary veneers during this time, to preserve the aesthetic appearance of the mouth.
When the veneers are completed, the dentist will place it on the teeth to verify fit and color. If any adjustments need to be made, they must be done before the veneer is permanently bonded to the tooth, as no changes in color may be made after this is completed. The laminate is bonded to the tooth with special dental cement that is cured and hardened after application with an ultraviolet light.
While veneers may be an attractive option for many patients, they may not necessarily be the right course of action for all. Dental veneers are also considered by many to be an expensive procedure. Composite veneers start around $250 US Dollars (USD) per veneer tooth. Porcelain veneers, can range from about $700-$2,500 USD per tooth.