If you have a damaged or discoloured tooth, or you would like your teeth to look straighter, whiter or more uniform in size, then dental veneers may be an ideal solution, whether you need one or several.

A veneer is a thin shell that we can bond on to the front of a natural tooth to improve its appearance. Some people choose to have dental veneers instead of teeth straightening if they have mild spacing or crowding issues, but veneers also offer a very effective way to address a range of aesthetic issues with your teeth.

Dental veneers are to teeth what false nails are to natural nails, a way of covering up flaws and creating a beautiful, more uniform appearance that provides balance and symmetry to the shape, colour and size of your teeth. Of course, dental veneers are much longer-lasting than false nails!

If you have a chipped tooth, a gap between your front teeth, a stain that just won’t go or very small teeth, dental veneers may be the way to address these problems.

Morag Kenneth

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A dental veneer is usually made from a wafer-thin piece of porcelain that has been shaped and colour-matched to complement your natural teeth. To be able to attach a veneer, we may need to remove a very thin layer of enamel from your tooth – usually of the same thickness as the veneer – to create a rough surface for the bonding glue that will hold the veneer in place.

The good thing about dental veneers is that they look completely natural. Porcelain is a popular material for dental restorations because it reflects light in the same way as enamel and so it’s almost impossible to spot from the real thing.

If you develop gum disease later in life that causes your gums to recede a bit, your veneer may become more noticeable, in which case you should seek advice from your dentist straightaway. If you’re seeing the dentist and hygienist regularly, they can help you to stop gum disease in its tracks.

With modern dental veneers, we only need to do a small amount of preparation, if any, which means that your teeth will still look exactly the same while you’re waiting for your veneer(s) to be placed. You may just find that the front of the tooth feels a bit rougher than usual, but veneers won’t damage the integrity, function or appearance of your tooth.

In some cases it’s possible to prepare teeth for veneers without anaesthetic, but we may suggest the use of local anaesthetic to make sure that you’re as comfortable as possible. You may notice some initial sensitivity to hot and cold, but this usually resolves itself within a couple of days of a veneer being attached.

On average, veneers last between seven and twenty years. You should continue to brush and floss your teeth as usual, and to follow a diet low in sugar and where sugar is confined to mealtimes. Just like natural teeth, veneers can get damaged and may occasionally come loose.

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