Cosmetic Dentistry

Porcelain Veneers

Porcelain veneers in combination with a gum-lift procedure (see below) helped this smile.
Porcelain veneers in combination with a gum-lift procedure (see below) helped this smile.

Porcelain Laminate Veneers, or simply "veneers", are custom-made porcelain wafers that the dentist places over the fronts of the teeth to enhance their appearance and also to repair damage. Veneers can dramatically change a person's smile and help improve their self-confidence. In the 1920's and 30's, actors, actresses and other performers would often go to the extreme measure of having their teeth extracted and dentures (false teeth) made to improve their smile. Fortunately, this radical procedure has given way to veneers, a far more conservative approach. Veneers are what give many Hollywood movie stars that dazzling smile we see on the silver screen.

Veneers can be used to improve a wide variety of cosmetic dental problems. They can whiten stained or discolored teeth, close gaps between teeth, "correct" a crooked smile without the need for braces, repair chips and imperfections, and create a more attractive or youthful looking smile. The procedure usually involves removing only a thin amount of the outermost layer of the tooth, called the enamel. The dentist then takes molds (impressions) of the mouth. Temporary veneers are then placed for the patient to wear while the permanent veneers are being made. The procedure usually takes between one and a half and two hours.

Next, the laboratory carefully crafts the porcelain into veneers. In about two weeks, the veneers are ready for the dentist to fasten to the fronts of the teeth. This process improves the teeth's appearance and strength.

There is no doubt that veneers are an excellent option, but how about the cost? That largely depends on how many veneers are required to produce the desired results. In most cases, a minimum of six veneers are needed, and are usually placed on the upper six front teeth, from the canine (sometimes known as the eye tooth) on your right side, to the canine on your left side. Prices vary, but an average fee for most cases will run several thousand dollars (500 to 900 dollars per tooth*).