What are Porcelain Veneers?


Porcelain veneers are thin, custom-made, natural looking caps bonded to the front of the teeth. They repair teeth that have been cracked or chipped, discolored, misaligned or uneven. Porcelain veneers can be applied for aesthetic purposes such as straightening or whitening teeth, or for protective purposes like ensuring fragile teeth are not harmed. They are made from porcelain or resin, which resists stain more effectively than enamel, and can last longer than other types of dental replacements or improvements. Porcelain veneers offer an alternative to crowns, which were previously the only solution to correcting dental imperfections.

Dental veneers were created in the 1920s by Dr. Charles Pincus, a Hollywood dentist, looking to improve the smiles of actors and actresses for the camera. Dr. Pincus focused on producing a bright, stunning smile for the big screen and veneers became his solution. The early version of veneers were not permanent but instead could be inserted or removed as needed. In the 1960s, another doctor, Dr. Michael Bunocore, created the bonding technology used in porcelain veneers today. He discovered that by etching teeth with an acidic solution, veneers would bond to teeth and produce a permanent solution to dental imperfections.


Who Are Good Candidates for Veneers?

People wanting porcelain veneers should seek the opinion of a certified dental expert. Only a certified dentist can decide whether or not a patient needs porcelain veneers. Implantation of porcelain veneers usually requires a patient have good overall dental health. This includes strong teeth, plenty of natural tooth enamel, and a strong commitment to dental hygiene. Those with gum disease, tooth decay, or root canal infections may not qualify for veneers because veneers offer primarily a cosmetic solution. Those with serious oral health issues should seek help from a dentist to correct these problems.


What is the Procedure?

Dentists normally require an initial consultation to discuss treatment options and make a choice between porcelain veneers or a different type of dental repair. After the initial consultation, the patient normally returns to the dentist’s office two more times—once for X-rays and impressions of the mouth and teeth to ensure the veneers fit properly and once to actually bond the veneers to the teeth.

The dentist normally requires one to two weeks after the fitting to have the veneers made at a dental laboratory. The bonding process involves a thorough examination and fitting of the veneer to the natural tooth to ensure both are the same color and the veneer fits correctly in the patient’s mouth. The dentist will then prepare the tooth by cleaning, polishing, and etching the surface so that the veneer will bond firmly and not come loose. The veneer is actually bonded to the tooth by applying a special light beam that activates special cement on the veneer, causing it to harden and therefore attach quickly. A follow-up visit may be necessary to assess the position of the veneer and ensure the gums around the implant have not become inflamed or agitated.