For certain smaller cosmetic procedures it may make sense to have a dental veneer applied. While a dental crown is used to cover and protect the whole tooth, a veneer is a thin covering that is only placed over the front part of the tooth. A veneer is applied in a simple procedure in a dentist's often, but may not last as long as a dental crown. If your upper front teeth are discolored, poorly shaped or crooked, a veneer might make them look more appealing. These teeth are most noticeable when smiling and are difficult to lighten with bleaching products.
Sometimes a veneer may be used instead of a crown if a small portion of a tooth is chipped or worn. They are also helpful for filling a large, noticeable gap between teeth. If you have discolored or slightly damaged teeth, find a cosmetic dentist who will help decide whether veneers, bonding or dental crowns are right for your individual dental situation. Two types of veneers are available - porcelain and acrylic.
Porcelain, or ceramic, veneers are sometimes called laminates. They are extremely thin shells made of a very strong material. Before they are applied the dentist will remove a small amount of enamel from your tooth. An impression will be made using either a mold or digital imaging. The veneer will then be formed and cemented to your tooth. A porcelain veneer is usually recommended when there is severe discoloration or larger areas of damage to the original tooth.
Acrylic, or resin, veneers are made of composite material. The dentist prepares and shapes your tooth, and sculpts the composite material right onto it. This is usually accomplished in just one appointment.
Your teeth must be healthy and free of decay before a veneer can be applied. Since enamel is removed to prepare your tooth for the veneer, the process is not reversible. If you grind or clench your teeth, veneers may not be a good choice for you as they can wear down over time and break. As with all of your natural teeth, teeth with veneers require regular flossing and brushing to remain healthy.
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