Veneers are a front surface covering that can be cemented onto a tooth. They can be made from white composites, porcelains and zirconia. Used to mask colour, reshape and repair the visible surface of a tooth, they rely on a dental bonding system to keep them in place.

The bonding system for veneers is not as strong as complete coverage crowns or the original enamel of the tooth. For this reason, care must be taken not to put excessive forces on the veneer as this will cause debonding. They are stronger than materials pressed into the tooth directly and are used when other filling materials fracture.

Veneers are custom made for each tooth they are placed on. No two veneers are the same. They are normally cast or milled to the specific shape required at a dental laboratory. Typically, there are two stages to the fabrication of a veneer. The first stage is to prepare the tooth for the veneer, this will involve the numbing and removing of surface tooth tissue and any decay present.

An impression of the tooth is taken and a temporary cover is placed. The second stage takes place a week later and involves numbing the tooth to remove the temporary filling, then checking the fit and colour of the new veneer before finally cementing it in place.

The veneer is stronger than conventional filling materials however, it will never last as long as a healthy tooth. The strength of the veneer comes from the strength of the underlying tooth tissue and as this has been reduced, the longevity of a veneer is not as good as a natural healthy tooth. Veneers come in a range of materials, gold, porcelain and zirconia. Your dentist is the best person to discuss the suitability of each material.

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