Veneers are like false-fingernails - a thin material that sits over the top of your teeth. In order to make room for the veneers, the teeth must be shaved-down slightly, so that the veneer does not stick out too thickly. Veneers can help to cover a tooth and restore aesthetics when a tooth is either defective (often during formation from injury or antibiotics), has a number of un-aesthetic fillings, or is worn or poorly shaped. It can even help to close gaps and disguise small rotations in the teeth. There are two main materials for veneers;
- Composite resin: This is the "plastic white" filling material that bonds to the tooth. It can be used in a thin layer and polished very finely to give a good aesthetic result. This can often be achieved in one appointment and is cheaper than porcelain veneers.
- Porcelain: This is a lab-made porcelain material which is bonded to the tooth. Aesthetic results are excellent. This requires two appointments - one for the preparation of the tooth and one for the bonding of the veneer.
Cosmetic dentistry can encompass a while range of things from veneers as discussed above, to things like whitening, orthodontics, crowns, white fillings and even entire smile make-overs. Often a combination of these procedures is required to give you the smile you have always wanted. Many of these procedures are covered in other parts of this website. As for smile make-overs, this requires good planning, discussion and records first. Understand also, that to achieve a good smile, a change in your bite is often necessary.
Can I get a smile like those Hollywood stars? Why do they have such white teeth?
For people like you and I, having "picket fence" white teeth is not natural. Walking around everyday with glowing white teeth can actually look off-putting. Most of the people on TV have had significant work done to get crowns and veneers, which involves cutting down healthy teeth. Because their livelihood relies on their appearance, this is a risk they are willing to take. For you and I, this is recommended only if there is a real aesthetic need. Talk to your dentist to have a candid discussion of the pros and cons involved in this.