What Are Veneers and How Do They Work?


Cosmetic dentistry is on the rise! The Dental Economics Journal reports that the field has grown 12.5 percent within the last five years. Veneers in particular are an exploding segment of that growth. According to the New York Times, nearly 600,000 people got veneers in 2006. Ten years later, that number is definitely still on its way up!


But just what are veneers exactly? They are thin shells, either made of porcelain or a resin composite, that are applied to teeth to improve appearance. Porcelain is the most common material used because it reflects light just like natural teeth do and is more durable.

Veneers have become so appealing because they deliver a movie star smile without braces or lengthy whitening treatments. And the funny thing is, they were initially created specifically for movie stars. Charles Pincus invented them so that actors and actresses could temporarily improve the look of their smile for starring roles. Today many celebrities, and regular citizens, continue to get veneers — but there is nothing temporary about it!

Veneers are amazing when it comes to getting a beautiful smile quickly and easily. Another huge plus is that porcelain is not porous, which means it can’t be stained the way normal teeth can. The biggest drawback is the cost. Depending on your location and how many veneers you need, they can cost as much as $1,000 to $4,000 per tooth.


The process of achieving a picture-perfect smile with veneers usually takes 3 office visits.


First things first, your dentist will need to examine your teeth to see if you are a viable candidate. While veneers can easily fix things like chipped teeth, gaps, color, size, length, and shape — they can only do so on a moderate scale. In many cases orthodontia may be needed to fix extremely crooked teeth or a significant bite problems before veneers can be considered.

If your smile goal is attainable, the dentist show you a mockup of it beforehand, either with a mold or a computerized 3-D image.


At this point, the dentist will need to remove a small sliver of your tooth (we are talking millimeters) to prepare a space for the veneer to be placed. Depending on the amount removed and your pain tolerance, anesthesia can be utilized. Then the dentist will “etch” the surface of the tooth to enhance the bonding process. Etching is essentially roughing up the enamel texture so the bonding material adheres more effectively.

X-Rays and impressions are also taken. These will then be sent to a lab that will create custom veneers for your dentist to place.

While you wait for your customized veneers to be made, you will receive temporary veneers. They are often made of acrylic and are very similar to the final version. The best part is that they will allow you to go about your daily activities like eating and talking with no trouble.


The veneers are now placed on your teeth and the fit and color will be examined and adjusted if necessary. Cement is used to adhere the shell to your tooth and then a special light beam is used to cure or harden the bond. And voila, you have the smile of your dreams!

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