What is a Veneer?
A veneer is a thin layer of porcelain made to fit over the front surface of a tooth, like a false fingernail fits over a nail. Sometimes a natural colour ‘composite’ material is used instead of porcelain.
Types of Veneers
Veneers are generally of two types:
- Direct Veneers – bonded on directly and generally require a single visit / sitting and are relatively inexpensive.
- Indirect or Porcelain Veneers – need to be custom designed by a dental technician and therefore require two visits / sittings. Relatively more expensive than the direct option but are aesthetically superior.
When would I need a veneer?
Veneers considerably improve the appearance of your teeth. It can help with the colour, shape and position of the teeth. A single discoloured tooth can be corrected or a set of teeth can be lightened by using a specific shade of porcelain. The porcelain can cover the whole of the front of the tooth with a thicker section replacing the broken part. Veneers can be used to repair small gaps when orthodontic procedures are not suitable. They can be used to bring an out-of-position tooth into line with the rest.
What are the advantages of veneers?
Veneers visibly enhance the teeth by giving them a natural and healthy appearance. Very little preparation of the tooth is needed as veneers are very thin and are held in place by a special strong bond. Some types of veneers do not require any preparation at all.
How are teeth prepared for a veneer?
A very thin layer of the outer enamel of the tooth may be removed so that the veneer can be bonded in place later. In certain cases, local anaesthetic may be used to avoid discomfort, but often this is not necessary. After preparation of the tooth. the dentist takes an ‘impression’ (mould), which is then given to the dental technician, along with any other information needed to make the veneer. With the help of a shade guide and digital photographs, it can be ensured that the colour of the veneer looks exactly as desired. With the help of a shade guide and digital photographs, it can be ensured that the colour of the veneer looks exactly as desired.
How long will it take?
It is a simple procedure and needs at least two visits to the dentist. The first to prepare the tooth and to match the shade, and the second to fit it. Before bonding it in place, your dentist will show you the veneer on your tooth to make sure you are happy with it. Bonding a veneer in place is done with a special adhesive, which holds it firmly on the tooth.
How long will a veneer last?
Depending on the care you take, veneers should last for many years; but they can chip or break, just as your own teeth can. Your dentist will tell you how long each individual veneer should last. Small chips can be repaired, or a new veneer fitted if necessary.
What about alternatives?
The alternative to veneers is the comparatively traditional method of using natural-coloured filling material. It is best suited for minor repairs to front teeth and is excellent where the tooth supports a filling. However, it may not work so well for broken tooth corners. If you just wish to lighten the teeth then tooth whitening is a more conservative approach.
How much do veneers cost?
Cost of veneers can vary from practice to practice. So it is important for you to discuss charges and treatment options with your dentist before starting the treatment. Veneers cost from £350 to £595 per tooth, depending on the materials used and the extent of after-care offered.
Can I get veneer on the NHS?
Treatments such as veneers are only available on the NHS if there’s a clinical need for them (not for cosmetic reasons).