Advances in modern dentistry have led to a number of exciting new treatment options for those with dental problems. Yet for many people it has also become more difficult to understand the full range of these options. If you would like to learn more about dental veneers, read on. This article will provide answers to three commonly asked questions.

What is a dental veneer?

A dental veneer is a thin, tooth-colored shell specially designed to bond to the front of your teeth. They allow alterations to be made in terms of your tooth's:

  • shape
  • length
  • size
  • color

Dental veneers can be made from either porcelain or what is known as composite resin. Of the two, porcelain veneers are the more durable, stain-resistant, and natural looking. However, porcelain veneers also require a greater amount of your tooth's surface to be removed for proper placement.

Composite resin veneers, on the other hand, do not require as intrusive a placement process. Because they are applied to the tooth directly, and do not require an additional fabrication step, composite veneers are also the more inexpensive option. Resin veneers, however, do not have as long a life-span as porcelain veneers.

What kinds of issues can dental veneers address?

Dental veneers are used almost exclusively as a cosmetic treatment, and not for therapeutic or medical reasons. That said, dental veneers can be used to treat a wide variety of cosmetic issues, including:

  • discolored or stained teeth
  • worn, chipped, or broken teeth
  • misaligned teeth
  • teeth with large gaps

How long will my dental veneers last?

The lifespan of dental veneers differs, depending on whether they are made of porcelain or composite resin. Porcelain veneers can easily last ten, and even up to twenty years. The three most common causes of failure with porcelain veneers are:

  • aesthetic deterioration
  • structural damage
  • loss of retention (i.e. the veneer worked loose)

Composite veneers, on the other hand, have a much shorter life-span--usually in the range of four to eight years. This is due in part to the fact that resin veneers are not as strong as porcelain veneers--and therefore more easily damaged.

It is also important to note that the lifespan of any type of dental veneer is large contingent on how well they are maintained. They must be brushed and flossed as with normal teeth. Likewise, it is recommended that you avoid biting down on hard non-food objects such as pencils and pens, which can cause cracks of chips in the surface of the veneer. Talk to a local dentist, such as John P Poovey DMD PC, for more questions.