Dental veneers are custom-designed shells made of tooth-like ceramic material that, when applied over the surface of a tooth, cover worn tooth enamel, uneven tooth alignment or spacing, and chips or cracks.
Dental veneers can be made from porcelain or from resin composite materials. Porcelain veneers resist stains better than resin veneers and better mimic the light reflecting properties of natural teeth. Resin veneers are thinner and require removal of less of the tooth surface before placement.
The procedure starts with your dentist examining your teeth to assess which dental veneers are appropriate for you and discuss what the procedure will involve. Dentist may also take X-rays and possibly make impressions of your mouth and teeth. Next, your dentist will remove about ½ millimeter of enamel from the tooth surface, which is nearly equal to the thickness of the veneer to be added to the tooth surface. Before trimming off the enamel, you may be administered a local anesthetic to numb the area. Next, your dentist will make a model or impression of your tooth. This model is sent out to a dental laboratory, which in turn constructs your veneer. It usually takes 1 to 2 weeks for your dentist to receive the veneers back from the laboratory.
Before the dental veneer is permanently cemented to your tooth, your dentist will temporarily place it on your tooth to examine its fit and color. Dentist will repeatedly remove and trim the veneer for a proper fit. The veneer color can be adjusted with the shade of cement to be used. After this your tooth will be cleaned, polished, and etched to roughen the tooth to allow for a strong bonding process. A special cement is applied to the veneer and the veneer is then placed on your tooth. Once properly positioned on the tooth, your dentist will apply a special light beam to the dental veneer, which activates chemicals in the cement causing it to harden or cure very quickly. The final steps involve removing any excess cement, evaluating your bite and making any final adjustments in the veneer as necessary.
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