Dental veneers are one of the most popular choices for patients looking to improve the cosmetic appearance of their teeth.

While dental bonding may be a good choice for minor cosmetic dental fixes, and crowns are necessary for more serious cosmetic repairs, veneers offer a middle route to a more beautiful smile.


What are dental veneers?

A dental veneer is a cover that is placed over the front (outward-facing) side of an existing tooth or teeth. The cover can be made of porcelain or a resin composite. A dental veneer can match the color of the existing tooth, or, in the case of a tooth that is discolored, can be matched to surrounding teeth. Tooth shape and size can also be altered by a dental veneer.


What problems can dental veneers fix?


If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, you may be a good candidate for a dental veneer.


  • Do you have gaps between existing teeth that you would like filled?
  • Do you have teeth or a tooth that is worn down and makes your smile look uneven or old?
  • Do you have any chipped teeth?
  • Do you have teeth that are discolored or have uneven color due to fillings?
  • Do you have oddly shaped or uneven or teeth that are out of alignment?


Veneers can address these cosmetic dentistry issues and more.


How do dental veneers compare to bonding?

One of the biggest “pros” of veneers compared to bonding is that porcelain veneers are much more stain resistant than the material that is used for bonding. They therefore maintain their appearance longer. Furthermore, veneers last longer and are in general more durable than the results of bonding are.


However, because of these “pros,” veneers are more expensive than bonding. Also, while bonding is usually done in one appointment, it can take up to three appointments to get veneers because the veneers are generally prepared outside of your dentist’s office.


How do dental veneers compare to crowns?


When you get a crown, there is no going back to your regular tooth. The same is true of veneers. Your existing tooth has to be etched in order for the veneer to be properly affixed to your tooth. However, the etching that is done to your tooth is much less invasive than the filing that is necessary when you are getting a crown placed on a tooth. In many cases, patients do not even need a local anesthetic when a tooth is etched for a veneer. Dr. Sheehan will be happy to discuss the process with you and help you to decide if you need anesthetic or not.


Also just like crowns, veneers are available in porcelain and in other materials. Porcelain offers the greatest chance for matching the color of your other existing teeth. Unlike a crown, a veneer only covers the face of your tooth. Therefore veneers are less likely to wear down surrounding teeth than crowns are. Furthermore, while you can only get one or two crowns placed in one sitting, you can have many teeth get veneers at one time.


Aside from being a less invasive process, getting veneers is also generally a cheaper option than getting full crowns.


What is the process of getting a dental veneer?


There are generally two steps in the process of getting dental veneers. Once Dr. Sheehan and you have decided that dental veneers are the right choice for you, you will schedule your first appointment in the process. During this first appointment, your tooth will be prepared for the veneer. This preparation involves Dr. Sheehan etching the face of your tooth or teeth, which will help the veneer bond to your teeth more securely. Many patients find that the etching can be done without anesthetic. However, you can discuss this with Dr. Sheehan, who will do his best to make the experience as pain-free as possible for you.


Once the etching is finished, Dr. Sheehan will take an impression of the teeth that are receiving veneers. This impression will be sent to a laboratory that makes dental veneers. The laboratory will make your veneers to fit each of your teeth individually. This fabrication process generally takes anywhere from two to four weeks. If you are concerned about the appearance of your teeth during this period, Dr. Sheehan can apply temporary veneers to your teeth after he finishes etching them and getting the impression for the lab.


Once our office receives your veneers, we will schedule an appointment with you to place the veneers on your teeth. Dr. Sheehan will take pains to make sure your veneer is the proper shape and color. Dr. Sheehan may trim the veneer to make it look right and he can use cement that is subtly colored to make sure the veneer will look at close to a natural tooth as possible. Porcelain veneers also shine in the same way natural teeth do, so that will aid the blending of the appearance of the veneers with your natural teeth.


After getting the veneer “just right,” Dr. Sheehan will apply dental cement to the veneer and place the veneer on your tooth. Using a special light, Dr. Sheehan will then cure the cement so that the veneer is permanently affixed to your tooth. Dr. Sheehan will remove any extra cement and make sure that your bite remains normal.


After that, the only thing that remains is showing of your new, pearly white smile!