Porcelain veneers are custom-made tooth-coloured shells which are bonded to cover the front surface of the teeth. They are suitable for front teeth only. Veneers are useful in treating chipped, discoloured, slightly misaligned or misshapen teeth, or gaps between teeth. They are appropriate when the underlying tooth is strong and healthy. When the underlying tooth is heavily filled or weakened, crowns will be more appropriate.
The procedure usually takes place over 2 appointments. During the first visit, your dentist will remove a thin layer, about the thickness of a fingernail, from the front surface of the tooth. This allows room for the veneer. A series of moulds will be taken of the teeth and sent to a dental laboratory where the veneers are crafted to fit your teeth and your bite. High quality digital photographic images may also be taken, to enable the laboratory to achieve an excellent colour match with the other teeth, if this is what is desired. At the second visit, your dentist will bond the veneers to the teeth.
As with any cosmetic dental treatment, regular maintenance of porcelain veneers can enhance their longevity and help maintain a pleasing appearance longer term. Regular maintenance involves both home care, including brushing and cleaning between the teeth, as well as professional cleans by a dentist. If you clench or grind your teeth during sleep, you should wear a protective guard custom made by your dentist called an occlusal splint to protect the veneers from breaking or chipping off.