Porcelain veneers are thin, shell-like slices of ceramic bonded to the front of the teeth. They are used to cover gaps, to reshape chipped teeth, or whiten stained teeth. At $1000 to $1,800 a tooth, they are one of cosmetic dentistry's costlier options. However, they are also one of the most natural-looking and long-lasting whitening options available.
The application of porcelain veneers requires three trips to your dentist. First, visit your dentist for a diagnosis and treatment planning session. This is when you and your dentist will discuss your specific needs. Next, return for a preparation session. This time, your dentist will buff about half a millimeter off your teeth to create room for the veneer. He or she will also create a mold of your teeth and send it to a laboratory. Within two weeks, the laboratory will send back the veneers based on this mold. Finally, return for the bonding session. Your dentist will first give you a "trial fitting" of your veneers; he or she will use water or glycerine to attach them to your teeth. This fitting is your chance to comment on the fit and color of the veneers and to request any final changes or adjustments. Once you are satisfied with the look of the veneers, your dentists will clean your teeth with bond-aiding chemicals and cement the veneers to your teeth. Finally, he or she will flash a light on the veneers to speed up the hardening of the cement.