What Are Dental Veneers and Am I a Good Candidate?
The human body is a truly miraculous machine, capable of amazing feats, and its many parts work together to keep us healthy and well for a lifetime, provided we treat it right. Your teeth put up with a lot of abuse – not only the stresses of biting, chewing, and grinding food into digestible portions, but also the assault of the modern diet, including the many sugars, acids, chemicals, and other harmful substances we consume daily.
The good news is that you can combat much of this damage with proper oral hygiene and regular dental visits. Even so, your teeth may become stained, chipped, and cracked over time. Or you might find yourself dealing with cosmetic concerns like crowding, gaps, and uneven edges, just for example. When this happens, you’ll be happy to hear that there are a number of solutions available to you.
Veneers are one such treatment option that could help to correct minor damage or cosmetic concerns. What are dental veneers? Are you a good candidate, and are veneers the right option for you? Here are a few things you should know before making a decision.
What are Dental Veneers? Veneers are a form of false tooth covering generally made of porcelain, although sometimes other substances like composite resin. This type of tooth covering is extremely thin, often less than a millimeter thick (as opposed to alternatives like crowns that can be 2 or more millimeters in thickness). Veneers are placed only on the front surface of the tooth in order to be visible when smiling, providing adequate coverage for relatively minor damage or cosmetic concerns.
One of the most beneficial qualities of veneers is that they can create such a difference in the appearance of tooth with such minimal physical impact. Whereas a significant portion of the tooth must be removed to place a crown (often 60% or more), as little as about 3% of the tooth (although potentially up to about 30%) is all that need be removed in order to place a veneer.
That said, adding veneers is not a reversible procedure. The enamel surface of the tooth must be etched to create a strong bond between the tooth and the veneer, which means the tooth will always need some kind of covering. Veneers usually last for about 10 years, although often longer with proper care.
Are You a Good Candidate? The best candidates for dental veneers will meet a couple of key criteria. First of all, teeth must be relatively healthy and almost fully intact in order for veneers to be an option. In addition, there must be enough enamel surface remaining for proper etching to take place. If enamel is too worn for needed etching, veneers can’t adhere to the surface of the tooth, limiting their effectiveness and durability.
Are Veneers the Best Choice? Whether you end up choosing veneers or other options like crowns or bonding will depend largely on the severity of your particular damage or cosmetic concerns. If, for example, a significant portion of your tooth has been chipped or broken, or you’re dealing with severe decay that has compromised the structure of the tooth, veneers are unlikely to solve the problem.
While veneers are ideal for covering a stained, cracked, or even pitted tooth surface, the thin material is not strong enough to stand in for a significant portion of missing tooth. If you tried to chew with a veneer alone, you’d almost certainly break it. In this case, more robust crowns designed to protect the remaining tooth are likely the best option.
Veneers may also be the wrong choice for severe cosmetic concerns. Significant gaps may be better treated with bonding, and teeth that are severely crowded or rotated may need too much reduction for veneers to present an adequate and practical solution, in which case patients will have to consider crowns, or possibly corrective measures like orthodontic braces.
For patients dealing with minor damage like staining, chips, cracks, or uneven edges, veneers could be a great choice. The same goes for slight misalignment issues or other cosmetic concerns. You simply need to speak with your dentist about the severity of your situation and whether or not dental veneers are the best option available to you.