Dental veneers, also called porcelain veneers or dental porcelain laminates, are thin custom made shells of tooth-coloured substances (porcelain or resin composite materials) that are used to cover the front surface of teeth to change the size, shape or appearance of the teeth.
Porcelain veneers are better than resin made veneers because they resist stains, are strong, resilient and mimic the light reflecting properties of natural teeth better than resin veneers. Resin veneers are thinner than porcelain and they require removal of some tooth surface before placement on the tooth.
The first step in the process is a visit to a dentist with whom you discuss what you look you need to achieve. He then does an assessment of your smile and teeth and advises you whether the veneers are a good option for you, explaining fully the procedure involved, the potential cost of veneers and the limitations that may arise.
On that visit if you feel comfortable with veneers, the dentist will remove half millimetre of enamel from your tooth to enable proper fitting of the veneer and this may require the use of local anaesthesia.
After this the teeth impression (mould) is created and sent to a laboratory for preparation of the veneer which takes about a week or two. After preparation of the tooth you can use your teeth normally until the second visit when the veneer is fixed.
On the second visit, the veneer is placed on the tooth temporarily to examine its shade and fit, if it doesn’t fit well then its trimmed accordingly and the colour matched to the cement that will be used. The dentist should show you the veneer to make sure you are content with it, after which he cleans, polishes and etches your tooth.
The veneer is then fixed using special cement on the tooth and once in position, a curing light beam is used to make the cement hard and firmly fixed. Any excess cement is then removed and any adjustments are made. You then are advised for a follow up visit to evaluate the response of the veneers.