Veneers are thin restorations which act like a cover on the outside (visible area) of the tooth. Veneers are usually only done to the part of the teeth that are visible when talking or smiling (the side of the tooth facing the lip). Veneers have two classifications, direct and indirect.
The direct technique usually involves placing composite resin on the outside of the tooth, and is typically referred to as “bonding”. The indirect technique usually involves two appointments because the veneers will be fabricated at a dental laboratory. At the first appointment the teeth are prepared, impressions taken, and the teeth are given a temporary covering. The laboratory fabricated veneers are usually made using porcelain or pressed ceramic, and are very esthetic. Two to three weeks after the first appointment the veneers are bonded to the teeth.
The advantage of veneers versus crowns is that much less tooth material is removed, and the procedure is generally less uncomfortable. Veneers can be used to change the shape and/or color of teeth and to close small spaces between teeth. Veneers are not recommended for teeth with very large fillings or for teeth with very little natural tooth structure remaining.