Veneers are a type of facing that your dentist can place over the front of a tooth or teeth… similar to a false fingernail.
Usually made of porcelain or sometime composite resin (the same material used for white fillings), veneers are only around 0.5mm thick.
This means that the tooth doesn’t have to be “drilled down” as much as for conventional crowns.
Here are some of the dental problems where your dentist may recommend veneers:
- Mild discolouration of teeth
- Badly worn down teeth
- Fractured front teeth
- Small peg-shaped teeth
- Gaps in teeth (see below)
When veneers may not work
Veneers may not be appropriate for badly discoloured teeth as the discolouration may still show through ( although your dentist may be able to lighten the teeth first).
Front teeth with large fillings in may need a crown rather than a veneer.
Very small teeth may not be able to be veneered. Sometimes the only option may be to have such a tooth removed and the space filled with a false tooth (or closed with brace treatment).
Can veneers “straighten” teeth?
This question causes much debate within the dental profession!
Crooked upper teeth can be “masked” by placing veneers over the front six teeth.
The advantage of this approach is that it usually takes a few visits and avoids having to have a course of orthodontic treatment. It also may be beneficial if the teeth are mildly discoloured.
The disadvantage is that if the teeth are quite crooked, the veneers will have to be quite bulky to be able to mask the crowding. The teeth may also need to be ‘drilled” more which can risk damaging the nerves of the teeth.
Veneers also require long term maintenance and replacement. And unless they are done to a high standard, they can make the teeth look “false”.
Orthodontic treatment is often a good option as it avoids having to drill teeth down and positions the patients teeth into the correct alignment, giving a more natural look.
However orthodontic treatment can “relapse” if retainers are not worn as advised. So there is still a “maintenance” element to straightening teeth. And of course orthodontic treatment takes longer… although some “quick” treatments can only take in the order of six months.
So there are pros and cons for both approaches for crooked teeth… and your dentist will be able to advise. In some cases, veneers can be considered after a course of orthodontic treatment e.g. if teeth are both crooked AND discoloured.
Adult orthodontic treatment is now routine with modern white and “invisible” braces treatments such as Invisalign.
Getting an orthodontic opinion
Extensive veneer treatments to correct crooked teeth are less common these days as orthodontic options are now routinely being considered. However veneers may still be appropriate in some cases.
Current professional guidelines advise that orthodontic options should at least be discussed with a patient before a dentist offers veneers for crooked teeth and where appropriate a referral made to an orthodontic specialist for an opinion.
About Cleveland Orthodontics
Our specialist-led practice has been established since 1996 and provides brace treatment to people of all ages from across the North East and Teesside, including Middlesbrough, Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees, Billingham and Redcar.
We offer NHS orthodontic treatment for children and a range of modern white and “invisible” braces for adults of all ages such as Invisalign. FREE consultations are available… you can either telephone for an appointment on 01642 243 020 or book through our website.