People unhappy with the look of their teeth have a wide variety of choices to improve their smiles, from bleaching and filing to dental veneers. Dental veneers, also called laminate veneers or porcelain veneers, are fingernail-thin pieces of porcelain fitted over natural teeth and cemented into place. They look like real teeth and the procedure is less invasive than tooth replacement with implants or dentures. Today, there are two main methods for making dental veneers: the feldspathic technique and pressed-ceramic technique.
Ask your dentist which type of veneers are best for you. The cost of the two types is similar, but pressed-ceramic veneers are the newer type and are becoming increasingly more common. Cosmetic dentists vary in their opinions about which type of veneers is appropriate.
A mold must be made of the teeth to be repaired. The veneers will add thickness to the teeth, so the dentist files away an eggshell-thin layer of the tooth. Usually this is done under local anesthetic. The dentist makes a mold of the filed teeth with dental putty, then sends it to a laboratory with detailed notes about the patient's mouth, bite and his preferences for color, shape or type of repair.
If you want small increases to tooth length, have very dark stains, or if you don't want much of your original teeth removed, opt for the feldspathic technique. These veneers are made by hand. The lab technician paints composite porcelain onto the mold of your teeth, layer by layer. The mold is fired after each layer, and this process is repeated until the desired shape and color are achieved.
Choose pressed-ceramic veneers for larger increases to tooth length, more natural-looking color, or if you want to fill gaps between teeth. These veneers also are made by hand, but the technician layers wax over the mold of your teeth into the desired shape, then makes a cast of the wax. The wax is melted out of the cast, and the mold is injected with porcelain composite using a high-pressure hydraulic pump. The technician can adjust color by painting in different shades of porcelain.
The finished veneers will be cemented to your teeth by the dentist. She will make any necessary minor adjustments to the veneer by filing it.