Veneers were invented by California dentist Charles Pincus in 1928 to be used for a film shoot for temporarily changing the appearance of actors’ teeth. Later, in 1937 he fabricated acrylic veneers to be retained by denture adhesive, which were only cemented temporarily because there was very little adhesion. Today, with improved cements and dental materials, they typically last much longer. They may have to be replaced in this time due to cracking, leaking, chipping, discoloration, decay, shrinkage of the gum line and damage from injury or tooth grinding.
Dental veneers are a form of cosmetic dentistry in which a shell or layer of tooth-colored porcelain or composite is placed over the facial surfaces of your teeth to correct worn tooth enamel, uneven tooth alignment or spacing, discoloration and chips or cracks.
Although dental veneers fall into the category of cosmetic dentistry because they create bright, white smiles with beautifully aligned, shapely teeth, they also protect the surface of damaged teeth and may eliminate the need for more extensive treatments.
Other benefits of veneers include durability, an improved smile appearance, and the need for little-to-no removal of tooth structure compared to crowns.
Regardless of what causes unattractive teeth, dental veneers may solve most or even all of your cosmetic dental issues, including:
•Worn enamel: Over time, the thin, hard translucent substance covering your teeth (enamel) may become worn, dulled and discolored. Such wear and discoloration may be natural or result from a genetic predisposition. However, it often results from consuming soft drinks, tea or coffee; smoking; using certain medications, etc.
•Wear and tear: Teeth naturally wear down as people age. Aged teeth are more likely to have chips, cracks or a generally uneven appearance. •Genetics: Certain people are born with abnormal spacing between their teeth that widens with age.
•Uneven teeth: Uneven teeth can result from tooth grinding or general wear and tear.
Porcelain Veneers and Composite Resin Veneers
The two most common materials used to fabricate or create dental veneers are composite resin and porcelain. Indirect (created outside of your mouth) porcelain veneers and composite veneers are made by a dental technician in a dental laboratory; direct (created directly on your teeth) composite veneers are made by your dentist during your appointment at the dental office.
Porcelain dental veneers are more appropriate solutions for severe cases involving dullness, wear, discoloration, extensive chipping, cracking, spacing or uneven teeth.
Composite bonding or just bonding — which refers to direct composite veneers — is an inexpensive, effective and minimally invasive way to restore and correct small chips, cracks and discoloration in the teeth.
When are Veneers Appropriate?
The removal of any natural tooth structure is permanent, so cosmetic dentists today prefer to offer patients the most minimally invasive options first. If your natural teeth are functionally and esthetically adequate, dental veneers may not be an appropriate treatment for you.
However, if you have severely dull or discolored teeth, your treatment options may include porcelain dental veneers or composite veneers. Veneers do have the added benefits of longevity and a proven ability to enhance the appearance of the mouth, smile and other facial features that are better supported by properly shaped teeth.
Veneers or Whitening?
Porcelain dental veneers or direct composite veneers may require the “shaping” or “prepping” of all teeth being treated. Therefore, some cosmetic dentists first recommend teeth whitening to people with mildly discolored teeth who want a whiter and brighter smile because it is the least invasive cosmetic dentistry option. If crooked teeth or alignment issues are involved, whitening also may be combined with orthodontic treatments.
How long do dental veneers last?
Veneers generally last between five and ten years with good oral hygiene and care.
Continue to follow good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing as you normally would. Even though porcelain veneers resist stains, your dentist may recommend that you avoid stain-causing foods and drinks (for example, coffee, tea, or red wine). Your dentist may recommend the use of a night guard, or splint while sleeping. This will protect your lower teeth from the effects of the porcelain grinding on the enamel. Even if you do not knowingly grind your teeth, porcelain is damaging to enamel during even slight grinding of the teeth. Veneers are designed to last between 5 to 10 years. Regular cleanings from your dental hygienist are still recommended, along with regular dental checkups. Are there alternatives to dental veneers? Yes, alternatives to veneers include bondings, crowns or short term orthodontic treatments to straighten the teeth, then followed by teeth whitening to enhance the shade of the teeth. Veneers may be best suited to people who want to change the shape of their teeth more than just a little bit – as is done with bonding – but not enough to require a crown.
How much do veneers cost?
Veneers are only available privately, not as an NHS treatment. Costs of veneers vary considerably depending on where you live and on the extent of your procedure. Generally, veneers cost from £400 to £1,500 per tooth, depending on the materials used and the extent of aftercare offered.