What is a dental veneer?

What is a dental veneer?

The veneers make it possible to correct the color of the teeth when the bleaching is insufficient, their shape ( worn, broken teeth, too short, etc.), and slight malpositions (small overlaps, interdental spaces, etc.). “The veneers are thin ceramic films that stick to the incisors and canines, even the premolars, to improve their aesthetic appearance”, explains Dr. René Serfaty, dental surgeon. “ They are often compared to false nails ”.

Developed in the 1980s, the technique gained common practice in the mid-2000s following advances in the materials and processes used, in particular for bonding the veneers. Increasingly attentive to preserving the integrity of the teeth, dental surgeons have also favored veneers as an alternative to crowns which require a larger tooth size and are more reserved for very damaged teeth.

Note: we speak of Inlay, Onlay, or Overlay for the posterior teeth, and veneers for the anterior teeth. 

Who are they for?

Veneers are for people who want to enhance their smile by modifying their visible teeth very slightly ( canines, incisors, premolars, etc.). This can be by improving the color of the tooth or the defect of the slightly damaged tooth (cracked, crooked, too short…). 

Contraindications are relatively rare: ” Bruxism can wear down and shorten the incisors significantly. The veneers will lengthen them but they will not hold if the height of the posterior teeth is not increased at the same time”, explains the Dr. Serfaty. “A significant lack of enamel, which can be linked to certain genetic diseases or excessive consumption of acidic foods and drinks, can also be a problem because the glue adheres less well to the dentin. Good oral hygiene is always essential “.

How much does it cost?

Their cost is relatively high. A ceramic veneer costs between 800 and 1,400 euros, the equivalent of a ceramic crown, and is not reimbursed by social security. When several teeth are involved, it may be tempting to have veneers placed abroad to reduce their cost by half. “However, it is difficult to have real guarantees concerning the training of the practitioner, the quality of the laboratory, the origin of the materials used… “, warns Dr. Serfaty.

Composites, an alternative to ceramic veneers?

To further preserve the dental tissues, especially in the event of temporary repair (in children) or light repair (broken angle…), it is possible to use composites. These materials, also used as alternatives to metal amalgams, come in the form of a malleable paste that adheres to the tooth with little or no cutting. The paste is modeled until the desired shape is obtained, hardened under a halogen lamp, then polished.

Composites come in different shades. They avoid going through the laboratory stage and are therefore less expensive and better funded by social security than the veneer. The rendering is however a little less aesthetic and their inexorable aging, with a lifespan of about five years.

How many appointments should I schedule?

Veneers can be placed in just two or three sessions if, for example, it is only a matter of changing the color of the teeth or identically repairing a broken incisor. The most important changes are based on a real aesthetic project. They require more appointments for the tests and, ideally, the realization of a mask that makes it possible to simulate the final result in the mouth.

  • “During the first appointment, the person explains to me why his teeth do not please him. I examine them, I take photos, X-rays and the impressions which will allow me to obtain a plaster cast to work on ”, explains Dr. Serfaty. The specialist then prepares for the next consultation by adding wax to the molding: ” I base myself on the wishes of the patient and certain aesthetic criteria (alignment, the height of the teeth, curvature of the smile, etc.). When the result seems to be suitable, I have a gutter made “;
  • At the second appointment, the tray is filled with resin and placed in the patient’s mouth. “The resin covers the teeth and hardens to form a “mask” which, once the tray is removed, gives a good idea of ​​​​the potential result. We discuss again the shape, the color of the teeth… I take new photos and possibly leave the mask to the person so that they can reflect on the project and seek the opinion of their loved ones”.

How are they posed?

The practitioner then takes new impressions of the prepared teeth and then places temporary veneers to protect them and make them presentable while waiting for the final veneers. An intermediate test is often scheduled before this last step. “The pose takes place under local anesthesia, with the setting up of an operating field. It is a particularly long and delicate session, where it is essential to respect a precise protocol “, remarks Dr. Serfaty who counts one morning for six facets.

What is the lifespan of a dental veneer?

“The success of veneers, both for the aesthetic aspect and for their lifespan, is “operator-dependent”, linked to the experience of the dental surgeon and his prosthetist, remarks Dr. Serfaty. “If the indication is well placed and the bonding correctly carried out, more than 90% of the facets are still present and aesthetic twelve years later”.

Failures are most often represented by cracks or fractures of the ceramic, sometimes by infiltrations that modify the color of the facets and increase the risk of caries. Detachments are rare.

How to maintain a dental veneer?

The veneers blend naturally with the rest of the dentition and are well accepted by the gums, which return to their place in a few days. They do not require any particular maintenance apart from impeccable oral hygiene (use of brushes and dental floss, regular descaling, etc.) and the wearing of a gutter for night protection for people prone to bruxism.

Can a dental veneer be removed?

In order not to break, the veneers must have sufficient height and thickness, which often requires cutting the teeth. In all cases, the enamel is partially removed to allow the glue to adhere. This step makes the treatment irreversible, requiring veneers to be worn for life.