What are dental veneers and how do they work?

Dental veneers are restorations that are made on the visible surface of the teeth and are used to mask aspects of the teeth that can affect the aesthetics of the smile (cavities, fractures, previous defective restorations, alterations in the shape, size, color or position of the teeth). There are several types of veneers. On the one hand, there are direct composite veneers, fabricated in the clinic by the dentist, and on the other hand, indirect composite or porcelain veneers, fabricated in the laboratory.

Dr. Macarena Resines, a renowned specialist in cosmetic dentistry and dental prosthetics, explains that before submitting a patient to treatment with veneers it is important to carry out a diagnosis by a dentist. The purpose of this preliminary study is to be able to consider the different treatment alternatives and to assess whether veneers are the best option for each case and which technique and material would be the most appropriate.

Nowadays the placement of veneers is considered a fairly conservative treatment in most cases, but it is necessary to take into account the conditions of each patient to ensure that the prognosis of the treatment is favorable.

What does the procedure consist of?

Due to the subjectivity of the “esthetic” concept, it is recommended to carry out an adequate design and planning of the case, through the generation of an “ideal model” unique to each case, from which keys or guides are obtained with which a test can be performed on the patient to assess, both the dentist and the patient, whether the simulation reaches the desired expectations for the treatment.

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For direct composite veneers, the dentist will be guided by the keys or guides used in the planning and try-in of the case, for the fabrication of the veneers in one clinical session.

For indirect porcelain veneers, the dentist will need at least two clinical sessions (one for tooth preparation and measurements and one for delivery):

First session: anesthesia (if necessary), placement of grinding guides for tooth preparation, grinding, taking measurements (impressions), bite registration (occlusion), shade selection, fabrication and placement of temporaries. All records are sent to the laboratory so that the veneers can be fabricated.

2. Second session: anesthesia (if necessary), removal of temporaries, try-in of veneers, conditioning of tooth surfaces and preparation of the internal surface of the veneers and cementation. Bite adjustment (occlusion).

Direct or indirect veneers?

The prognosis of indirect porcelain veneers is better than composite veneers in the medium/long term: less wear, less color change, less surface roughness, less risk of fracture and dezincification. In any case, it is important to remember that veneers are not forever; the average duration of direct composite veneers is between 5-7 years and indirect porcelain veneers between 15-20 years.

However, the duration of the veneers will depend, to a great extent, on factors related to the patient, such as: diet, occlusion, smoking habits, hygiene habits and frequency of visits to the dentist, among others. In any case, it is recommended to review them periodically to assess their evolution and the need to replace them at the appropriate time.