Veneer literally refers to a thin covering on a base material. In dentistry, veneers are used to correct and camouflage faults in teeth. These are of two kinds – composite and porcelain. Porcelain veneers have been very successful in correcting defects in the dental structure and are used extensively in cosmetic dentistry.
Why is porcelain veneer used?
Porcelain veneers are used for five main functions in cosmetic dentistry – cover gaps between the teeth, cover yellowing teeth and give them a white look, correct dental contour, enable a proper alignment and restore complete tooth function.
How are porcelain veneers applied?
Before the porcelain layer is applied, a cosmetic dentist prepares the teeth. The dentist first strips off a thin top layer of the teeth based on the defects. The process is not very painful but if required, your dentist does it under local anesthesia.
If the defects are too many, the dentist might shape them slightly so that the veneer fits better.
An impression of your denture is taken and sent to the laboratory to prepare the veneer. All porcelain veneers are custom made in order to ensure a perfect fit. You get your customized veneers within a week usually.
When you visit the dentist the second time, the dentist ensures that the veneer fits your denture perfectly. If necessary, the specialist might trim the veneer or reshape it slightly. Next, the veneer is bonded on to your teeth. Before bonding it permanently, the dentist uses a temporary cement to fix it in place so that you can be sure of the fit. A special light is used to cure the veneer after application.
What makes porcelain veneers so popular?
Porcelain veneers are especially known for their strength and durability. Ironically, porcelain as a material is very brittle. However, when it is bonded with the teeth, the assembly becomes strong because the underlying tooth provides a robust base structure.
The main aspect that contributes to their popularity is that porcelain veneers resemble real tooth enamel very closely. So, when applied on teeth, they look very natural. This is because unlike other kinds of veneers, porcelain does not reflect light completely. Translucent wafer thin porcelain veneers allow light to pass through them and reflect only part of it. So, teeth do not appear unnaturally bright and artificial.
Secondly, porcelain is highly resistant to staining or discoloration. It stays clean. In fact, porcelain resists staining agents such as tea, coffee, tobacco and wine more strongly than natural tooth enamel.
These features mean that porcelain veneers need very little maintenance. You can maintain these veneers exactly like you maintain your natural teeth.
High quality veneers made of porcelain last as long as fifteen years.