Veneers are thin tooth-coloured shells which are custom made to fit over the front surface of a tooth to improve the shape, size, colour or alignment of the underlying tooth. They can be made of a variety of materials such as composite, porcelain or zirconia. While they are done mainly to improve aesthetics, they can also be used to repair front teeth which have fractured or have large fillings. Veneers are also preferred by many when compared to crowns as much less of the tooth is trimmed resulting in less sensitivity.
Limitations of Veneers
As only a small amount of tooth is shaved down, the veneer is less effective when covering darkly stained teeth. There is also a higher chance of breakage or dislodgement when compared to crowns which are thicker, stronger and cover a greater surface area. The choice is therefore between a more conservative procedure as opposed to crowns which emphasizes cosmetics and a more predictable outcome. However veneers can work equally well in patients whose bite forces are not excessive and the jaw relationship stable.
What is the Procedure
The teeth are first reshaped lightly before either making a mould or taking a digital scan of the tooth surface. The laboratory then uses computer technology to design a veneer with the desired shape, proportion and colour. The process is fully automated and the images sent to the precision milling machine which will then mill the prefabricated blocks to the desired form. The final product is then heat treated and our in-house technician may stain and characterise the surface of the implant for a more natural look.
Tooth Coloured Alternatives to Porcelain
Composite or plastic resins are a low-cost option but are less translucent and don’t feel as smooth as either porcelain or zirconia. As they are also weaker, they require more of the tooth surface to be reduced to provide for greater strength. Porcelain is preferred for its better aesthetics and natural appearance while Zirconia is used when strength is used when the underlying tooth is badly stained as it can mask discoloration far better. Both composite resins and porcelains can be processed by the lab within hours but zirconia requires an additional day to process.