Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that by themselves have little strength, but when bonded to your teeth become very strong. They are like a table top veneer in that they can mask what is beneath the surface. This means veneers can: change the size, shape and color of natural teeth, thus allowing misshapen, discolored or spaces between teeth to be filled in, resulting in a pleasing appearance. Combining all these aspects of veneers is the artistic component of cosmetic dentistry that can transform a smile into something truly esthetic.
Veneers are very conservative in that only a small amount of tooth structure needs to be removed in most cases. However, in some cases more tooth structure needs to be removed. Lumineers are a proprietary name for veneers made of Cerinate porcelain. Cerinate porcelain is very strong porcelain and therefore a veneer of Cerinate porcelain can be made thinner than other veneering porcelains, which translates into less tooth reduction. Cerinate Lumineers can be done without the removal of any painful tooth structure. Sometimes this is a compromise in the overall esthetics of the finished case. In some cases to achieve the ideal smile one is looking for, the teeth must be prepared and ideally contoured veneers utilized.
Patients who want veneers to brighten their smile should consider whitening their teeth prior to veneering their teeth. The final smile looks much more natural if the veneers are not used to “mask” the color of the teeth. In some cases, like tetracycline stained teeth, opaque veneers are used to completely mask the stained color of the teeth. Other times when the contours only need to be changed and the teeth are whitened; the veneers can be made almost translucent so the natural color of the underlying tooth shows through.
Each patient’s case is different and communication between the patient and the dentist is paramount. To meet or exceed the patient’s esthetic expectation is the dentist’s ultimate goal and this can only be achieved with a teamwork approach between the patient and the dentist.