What is a veneer?
A veneer is a thin layer of porcelain or composite that is precisely fitted over the front surface of the tooth. They are normally used for the upper front teeth and are similar to a false fingernail in practice but much stronger once bonded on to the tooth with a special dental glue.
When a veneer would be indicated?
Where the shape, position or colour of the teeth are deemed unsatisfactory, veneers can provide a useful and relatively conservative treatment option. Where there are gaps between the teeth and orthodontics (teeth straightening) is not an option, veneers can provide a fantastic result!
What are advantages and disadvantages of veneers?
Advantages include: minimal preparation of the teeth and therefore unlikely to weaken the tooth or affect the nerve within the tooth as with crowns/bridges.
Once cemented in place they are very strong.
Disadvantages: sometimes it is difficult to mask underlying very dark colours. It can be technically very challenging for the dentist and technician. Veneers cannot be used in patients who grind their teeth and also are not suitable for patients with existing fillings in their front teeth unless they are very small.
What is a crown?
Also commonly known as a 'cap', it is custom made restoration which fits over a tooth (after special preparation) and typically restores the shape, appearance and function of the tooth.
When would a crown be needed?
If a tooth has been subject to decay, had very large fillings placed in it or has been weakened by trauma or had root-canal treatment, protection of the remaining tooth is often indicated to prevent possible fracture and the need for extraction.
Other reasons for providing crowns include masking of discolouration, changing the shape of teeth and providing support for missing teeth in the form of a bridge or denture.
What types of crowns are available?
Besides unsightly looking metal crowns, there is a wide range of tooth coloured crowns.
Metal and porcelain crowns (porcelain bonded crowns). These have an inner core of metal which fits over the prepared tooth, and then the porcelain is 'bonded' over the metal by a special process in the laboratory, to give a strong, durable and aesthetic result. The metal used can contain no gold (non-precious) or it may contain gold. Your dentist will discuss the merits of each.
Porcelain and all ceramic crowns. There is a wide range of this type of crown available today and technology can now provide very strong and aesthetic crowns that are free of metal. The technical processes are normally complex and these crowns are more expensive as a result.
What is a bridge?
Dental bridge is a construction which literally bridges the gap created by one or more missing teeth. A bridge is made up of two or more crowns for the teeth on either side of the gap -- these two or more anchoring teeth are called abutment teeth -- and a false tooth/teeth in between.