Smile Makeover Revealed - The Veneer Process Explained

Posted December 28, 2021
How do Veneers work

Improving your smile could mean improving the size, shape, and color of your teeth. And to achieve that perfect smile, veneers are the most effective and natural-looking way to give your teeth a complete makeover. 

A traditional veneer process isn’t an instant makeover. It can take up to three doctor’s visits to ensure the patient’s veneers look organic to the shape of their mouth and overall face structure. Each veneer is custom-made to achieve the most natural appearance. 

So, it’s no wonder why this restorative dental process requires multiple steps. It takes time to craft porcelain coverings for each tooth- but trust us, the wait will be worth it. 

We share the veneer process, step by step, and what you can expect to encounter each phase along the way. Starting with the essential question, what is a veneer? 

What are Veneers?

Dental veneers are custom-made shells made of very thin porcelain that is permanently bonded to the surface of the teeth. Since each veneer is made individually, the number of shells created could cover one tooth or all upper and lower front teeth for a full smile makeover. 

For the most natural-looking veneers, the dentist will match the color of the shell to your existing teeth. If you are covering all your front teeth, you have the option to select the shade of white to your liking.

Why Do People Choose Dental Veneers?

Improving your teeth can dramatically transform the look of your smile. Veneers can help make your teeth look uniformed, taller, evenly textured, and whiter. People considering getting veneers may have the following issues with their teeth: 

  • Chipped or broken
  • Stripped down enamel
  • Uneven edges or shape
  • Short teeth
  • Stained

In some ways, veneers are more resilient than natural enamel. Porcelain does not stain and is generally more durable than natural teeth. With proper examination and treatment planning, veneers can be an ideal restorative dental option that looks like natural teeth and will not weaken the tooth’s structure.

This quick video answers the most common questions people have about dental veneers featuring cosmetic dentists Dr. Dustin Cohen and Dr. Michael Jacobson of Los Angeles.

A Step-by-Step Guide of the Veneer Process

Getting dental veneers typically requires three visits to a board-certified dentist. The first appointment is for a consultation, the second is to prepare the teeth for the veneers, and the third is to apply on the teeth. 

Here is a step-by-step breakdown of what you can expect with a dental veneer process. 

Step 1 - Consultation

The dentist will examine your teeth and discuss your goals and outcome with the veneers during this initial appointment. They will then take photographs, X-rays and may make impressions of your teeth. If you have any dental issues, such as cavities, crooked teeth, or require a root canal, those will need to be addressed before a veneer treatment can occur.

Step 2 - Preparation of the Teeth 

During the second appointment, the dentist will prepare the teeth by grinding about ½ millimeter of the tooth’s surface to make room for the veneer. The amount of enamel shaved down is approximately the same amount of thickness that the veneer will add. 

Some dentists will only prepare the front surface of the tooth down to the edge, while others may also trim the teeth to allow the veneer to wrap around the tooth. The dentist will administer a local anesthetic to numb the treatment area to make the shaving process more comfortable.

Step 3 - Impression for Veneers

Next, the dentist will make a mold of your natural teeth and the inside of your mouth. This mold is sent to a dental laboratory that makes the porcelain veneers. It typically takes 2-4 weeks for the veneers to return from the laboratory in the custom size and shape.  

Step 4 - Temporary Veneers

Since a dental laboratory can take a couple of weeks to make the veneers, the dentist will provide a temporary veneer made of acrylic. The temporaries are slipped over the natural teeth and stay in place until the permanent veneers are placed. Patients with minimal shaving may not need temporary veneers but may experience sensitivity to temperatures. 

Step 5 - Fitting and Bonding

The veneer is ready to be permanently placed on the teeth at the last appointment. The dentist will remove the temporaries, and the natural teeth will be cleaned, polished, and etched to create a stronger bond. A quick-hardening cement is applied to the veneer, and the dentist will position the porcelain shell onto the tooth. 

They will then evaluate your bite and make any necessary adjustments to the length and shape. A follow-up visit may be required to check how the gums respond to the veneers.

Am I a Good Candidate for Dental Veneers?

An ideal candidate for veneers takes good care of their oral hygiene and their teeth are nicely aligned for optimal results. Their goals to restore their smile may include: 

  • Correct an uneven gum line
  • Close minor gaps between teeth
  • Cover cracked or chipped tooth
  • Change the length or size of teeth

When are Veneers not a Viable Option?

Placing veneers on top of your natural teeth does require the teeth and gums to be healthy and strong enough to withstand a procedure. Veneers are not a viable option if the patient has:

  • Severely crooked teeth or overcrowded 
  • Teeth with insufficient amount of enamel to shave thinner
  • Gum disease or gingivitis 
  • A veneer is not a replacement for a missing tooth - that requires a dental implant.

Final Takeaway - Dental Veneer Process

It will take several visits to improve the symmetry, size, and shape of your teeth, but now knowing what to expect with each step of the veneer process, you only need to worry about how not to stop smiling after the final step is completed. 

To find a board-certified cosmetic dentist in your local area, use our “Find a Doctor” navigation tool to connect you with an experienced dentist—ready to walk you through a smile makeover procedure with dental veneers. 

- VM


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