Funny you should ask. Dental veneers have been used in dentistry for some time now, mainly, for cosmetic reasons. Porcelain veneers can literally change the way your smile looks in about 2 weeks on average. I know, I've seen it done and I know the nearly instant change that can occur.
Veneers are thin porcelain covers for the front of the teeth, quite basically. The veneers themselves are very thin, just covering the surface of your teeth. This is quite different from a dental crown, being that with a crown, your teeth are completely capped. The reasons for getting a dental veneer can vary from person to person, but mainly include:
Teeth that become worn down from use, usually accompanying age.
Teeth have chipped or become broken.
Teeth that are misaligned, have become uneven, or teeth that have irregular shapes as in having pits, or "dents" in them in various places.
One of the main causes I've seen - to close gaps in the teeth.
As you can see, they do have many uses.
Well, as always, you need to consult with your doctor about exactly what you are expecting cosmetically. You should talk to them about how you want the shape of your teeth to look, how long you want them, the shade of the veneers themselves, whether you want your teeth to be a straight line across, or hold a natural curve to your smile. Usually during the consult you and the doctor will work out what CAN be done as well as the cost. There are certain limitations to the size and length of the veneers and you should talk with the dentist about that. You can even have a model of what your teeth can look like with veneers created by the dental lab.
After the consultation and your expectations with the doctor are worked out, you begin your veneer prep. Veneer prep merely consists of preparing your tooth for the placement of a veneer, either by roughing the outer front surface of the teeth slightly so the veneer will bond properly to the front surface, or to remove a small amount of tooth enamel for, say, reshaping the tooth itself, or making the tooth appear larger. Your preference as well as how much tooth enamel will be removed will decide whether the dentist will deliver local anesthetic to the area being worked on. Now, remember: only the depth equivalent to the depth of the veneer need be removed from your tooth enamel in most basic veneer cases. After the veneer prep is done, the dentist will have molds or impressions taken of your teeth, this will allow the lab to create the veneer. The dentist will also make you temporary veneers as needed, while the dental lab creates your porcelain veneers, which will give you a good idea of what the final product will look like.
In about 1-2 weeks the veneers will come back from the dental lab. When they arrive the dentist will temporarily place them on the prospective teeth. She will ensure color and fit are alright, adjusting as needed (even the shade can be adjusted slightly with the use of the bonding material that will be used, as there are different shades of bonding material as well). If all is fine after any needed adjustments, the dentist will clean, polish and etch the tooth with a special acidic compound. These actions are necessary for the proper bonding of the veneer to your tooth surface. After the final prep work is done, the doctor will bond the veneer to the tooth using a bonding agent and a special light that hardens the bonding material. The finished product is usually quite remarkable.
Dental veneers are pretty incredible in my opinion. They can literally alter a person's smile in 2 weeks. Where before, you may have been too self conscious to even open your mouth to talk a lot, or smile for big family photos, you may be (after veneers) find yourself becoming more socially active, communicating more, smiling openly and generally improve your social interactions. The author of this particular blog article had just such an improvement. Yes, I am talking about myself for just one moment. I received veneers years ago by the very doctor for which I am writing this article. The veneers she did for me are a work of art... literally.