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Veneer teeth are thin porcelain shells that are bonded onto the front of the teeth to improve their appearance. Veneer teeth are typically used for people whose teeth are chipped, discolored, or slightly misaligned. They may also be referred to as dental veneers, porcelain veneers, or dental porcelain laminates.
Many people who wish to improve the appearance of their teeth choose veneer teeth because they look very realistic and resist staining. Thin porcelain veneers mimic the appearance of real teeth, because real teeth are covered by a similar thin layer of enamel. The interior portion of the tooth is not enamel, but dentin. Like tooth enamel, porcelain veneer teeth are translucent, allowing light to penetrate and reflect off the inner layers of the tooth, creating a lustrous appearance.
Dental veneers are not an appropriate solution for every dental cosmetic issue, so it is important to discuss one's particular situation and cosmetic goals with a dentist. If a dentist determines his or her patient to be a good candidate for veneers, they can be applied over a series of two office visits, about a week or two apart. During the first visit, the surface of the tooth or teeth to receive the veneer will be trimmed down. Next, an impression of the tooth or teeth will be created with impression putty in order to custom fit the veneer.
Alternatively, the dentist may use a dental milling machine to create a photographic image of the tooth and make a porcelain veneer on the spot. While this method is quicker and requires only on visit to the dentist, many dentists feel that its results are not as good as the traditional method. A patient getting veneer teeth may, or may not, have temporary veneers while he or she is waiting for the permanent set to be crafted. Temporary veneers may add to the cost of the entire procedure, and they can be easily dislodged.
After a waiting period while the veneer teeth are being made, the patient will return to the dentist's office to have his or her veneer teeth bonded into place. First, the dentist will place the veneer teeth on temporarily to make sure the shape, size, and color are ideal. The veneer may be trimmed down more if the fit is still not quite right. Next, the dentist will clean the tooth receiving the veneer, and the veneer itself.
To bond the veneer in place, the dentist will first apply an acidic etching gel to the surface of the tooth, which makes it rough to promote a strong bond. Next, the dentist will put cement into the veneer and place it onto the tooth. A light shone onto the veneer cures the cement in moments. Finally, excess cement is trimmed off, and the veneer may also be trimmed down to make sure its size and fit are perfect.