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Understanding Front Teeth Veneers

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Dental veneers are wafer-thin shells of tooth-shaped porcelain or a resin composite material made to fit over the front surface of a tooth. Generally veneers are made to improve the shape and colour of the tooth.

The use of porcelain veneers has other advantages apart from providing a natural tooth appearance. They are stain resistant and well tolerated by gum tissue. They don't require extensive shaping of the tooth prior to fitting them on and they can protect the tooth from damage when the tooth is chipped or begins to wear.

Front teeth veneers have a special role to play, especially for those seeking to restore or enhance the beauty of their smile. The front teeth are naturally positioned right where the public can see them so, misaligned, uneven or irregularly shaped teeth are easy to observe. Similarly, discoloured, chipped or worn down front teeth are difficult to hide.

Custom-made veneers with very thin porcelain of the required shade of colour can be fitted in front of the teeth and held in place by a special, strong adhesive. There are several types of front teeth veneers to choose from. Some don't require preparation of the teeth before the procedure, while others may require a little ground work to get the teeth ready. 

Dentists work with aesthetic ceramists to create beautiful veneers. In Australia, veneers are made by accredited dental laboratories with materials that have passed Australian standards and have the Department of Health Therapeutic Goods Administration's (TGA) approval.

At the preparation appointment, the dentist removes a fraction of a millimetre of enamel from the surface of the teeth to allow for the thickness of the veneer to be bonded later. The dental technician makes a mould of the tooth to be fitted with a veneer and sends this to a dental laboratory with the colour of the surrounding teeth to ensure that the veneer will look entirely natural.

The tooth looks very much the same after preparation, except that it may feel a little less smooth, but most people do not require a temporary veneer except the tooth is very unsightly. Dental laboratories may take between 2 and 4 weeks to complete a veneer.

A second appointment is made to fit the veneer once it has been received from the laboratory. The dentist temporarily places the veneer on the prepared tooth to examine its fit and it may be slightly trimmed to achieve proper fitness. Special cement is applied to bond the veneer to the tooth and a beam of light is directed at the veneer to activate chemicals in the cement which causes it to harden quickly.

Although very little or no adjustments can be made once a veneer is fitted, a visit to the dentist after about a week following the fitting is appropriate to ensure that the patient is getting used to it and to polish the veneer. Veneers can last for many years and a small chip can be repaired if necessary.