A dental veneer is an ultra-thin shell of tooth-colored porcelain or composite that is cemented over the facial surfaces of your teeth to correct dental issues including worn tooth enamel, uneven tooth alignment or spacing, tooth discoloration, and chips or cracks.

Although veneers fall into the category of cosmetic dentistry because they help makeover smiles with beautifully aligned, shapely teeth, they also boast protective qualities and may eliminate the need for more extensive treatments. Other benefits include durability, an improved smile appearance, and the need for little-to-no removal of tooth structure compared to crowns. (There are even veneer variants that require no preparation of the underlying teeth.)

Regardless of what causes unattractive teeth, dental veneers may solve most or even all of your cosmetic dental issues, including:

  • Worn enamel: Tooth enamel can become worn or dulled naturally over time (consuming soft drinks, tea or coffee, smoking and the use of certain medications), or as a result of a genetic predisposition. Veneers are perfect for correcting smiles affected by worn enamel.
  • Wear and tear: As we age, our teeth naturally begin to wear down. Aged teeth are more likely to have chips, cracks or a generally uneven appearance. Veneers can restore the natural appearance of healthy, youthful teeth.
  • Genetics: Certain people are born with abnormal spacing between their teeth that widens with age.
  • Uneven teeth: Uneven teeth can result from the grinding/gnashing of teeth, and/or through general wear and tear. This can lead to bite issues (malocclusion) in addition to cosmetic smile issues.
  • Discoloration: Stubborn tooth discoloration may not be fully correctable through teeth whitening. In such cases, veneers can offer a simple, cosmetic solution.

Veneers or Whitening?

Porcelain dental veneers or direct composite veneers may require the “shaping” or “prepping” of all teeth being treated. Therefore, some cosmetic dentists first recommend teeth whitening to people with mildly discolored teeth who want a whiter and brighter smile because it is the least invasive cosmetic dentistry option. If crooked teeth or alignment issues are involved, whitening also may be combined with orthodontic treatments, including Invisalign.