What Are Veneers?
A veneer is a thin layer of material that is bonded or glued to a tooth. There are two types of material used - composite and porcelain. A veneer may be directly placed or sculpted in the mouth with composite material, or indirectly fabricated in porcelain by a dental technician in a dental laboratory, and later bonded to the tooth.
Direct veneers are done in one visit using tooth colored material called "composite". They can be very esthetic in the hands of a very artistic dentist and are indicated for the same type of situations as the porcelain veneers done in a laboratory. Advantages of direct veneers are reduced cost, good esthetics, easy to repair and done in one visit. The disadvantages are that they tend to discolor, deteriorate or pick up stain over time, and are not as strong as porcelain veneers.
Indirect veneers or porcelain veneers are custom made in the laboratory and require extra steps such as the taking of an impression to make models of the teeth on which to create the veneers. They also require more than one appointment. The advantages of the porcelain veneers are that they are stronger, do not stain or discolor with time and are less dependent on the artistry of the dentist placing them since they are fabricated by the lab. The disadvantages are the higher cost, greater number of visits needed and cannot be repaired, if one breaks, it usually needs to be remade. Indirect Veneers are the treatment of choice in Smile Design and Smile Makeover or Enhancement cases.
Ultrathin or No-Prep Veneers (Lumineers, Vivaneers, etc...
The "ultrathin" or "no prep" veneers, of which the most publicised have been the "Lumineers" brand, are a special, very thin porcelain veneer that has been advertised to appeal to those that do not want their teeth reduced in order to place porcelain veneers. Theese veneers are a good choice in a limited number of cases, especially those that have short teeth with spaces in between them, and since there is no reduction of the teeth, they are the easiest to place for the dentist, but if not selected appropiately they can make the teeth more bulky or thicker.