If you have missing teeth, you’re probably wondering what your options are. You may have even considered porcelain veneers as a possible solution.
Porcelain veneers are thin shells that are bonded to the front of natural teeth to improve their appearance. As an aesthetic treatment, they can create the perfect smile in a matter of weeks by covering up cosmetic concerns such as:
Cracks in teeth
Large gaps between teeth
Because they need a tooth to bond to, you can't get veneers with missing teeth. But you still have options available.
How Dental Veneers Can Beautify Your Teeth
Dental veneers were first invented in the 1930s by Dr. Charles Pincus to mask the dental flaws of Hollywood Stars, including child actress Shirley Temple. Over time, veneers became popular among the general population for their ability to create the coveted "Hollywood smile." While the original veneers were acrylic clip-ons that could be removed after filming and for eating and sleeping, nowadays most veneers are permanent fixtures that are cemented onto the front of the teeth.
If you are a candidate for dental veneers (i.e. you have healthy teeth that are not affected by tooth decay), your cosmetic dentist will shave a small amount of enamel off the front of the teeth to make room for the veneers. Then, the dentist will take an impression of your teeth and send this impression to the dental lab for the creation of your custom veneers. Finally, the veneers will be bonded permanently onto the front of your teeth using special dental cement.
Why Veneers Can't Replace Missing Teeth
The reason that you can't get veneers with missing teeth is that modern veneers are created individually in a similar way to prosthetic nails. In contrast to molar crowns—which can be joined into a bridge to save on costs—veneers are usually applied to the front visible teeth. For this reason, each veneer is attached to a single tooth to create a natural-looking smile.
To apply a veneer, you need to have a natural tooth structure underneath for the shell for bonding purposes; it must be large enough to hold the veneer and not broken or decayed. If the tooth is too small to hold a veneer, your dentist may suggest a porcelain crown to protect the tooth while improving its appearance.
Dental Implants: The Solution for Missing Teeth
While veneers can cover stained teeth, short teeth, misaligned teeth, or gaps between teeth, the ideal solution for a missing tooth is a dental implant. Perfected in 1965 by Dr. Per-Ingvar Brånemark, modern dental implants consist of a titanium post, an abutment, and a porcelain crown, which can be made to match the color and shape of the adjacent teeth.
In addition to filling the visible gaps and resolving aesthetic concerns, dental restorations can help to prevent bone loss and oral health issues such as uneven wear by replacing the tooth root in the jaw bone and holding the other teeth in place. Artificial replacement teeth also allow you to eat normally—including all of your favorite foods—something that isn't usually possible with dentures.
Veneers over Implants
If you would like to have a Hollywood smile but one of your front teeth is missing, you have four main options:
1. Implants Mixed with Veneers
The first option is to have veneers placed over your current teeth and have a dental tooth implant placed separately to replace the missing tooth. The implant can be made to match both the shape and the color shades of the surrounding veneer-covered teeth to create a beautiful smile.
2. Implants Covered with Veneers
The second option is to have the implants placed first and then apply veneers over the existing teeth as well as the implant. This option may be preferable if only one tooth is missing and you want the most uniform look. This option can cost a bit more as you will pay for the implant as well as the veneer.
3. Replace Your Existing Teeth with Implants
The third option is to remove your existing teeth and replace them with dental implants. This option might be appropriate for people whose front teeth are heavily decayed, broken, infected, or cracked from the root. To make the procedure more comfortable, tooth removal can be performed via sedation dentistry.
4. Consider a Porcelain Bridge
If you have a visible missing tooth and the surrounding teeth are somewhat compromised, you could consider a porcelain bridge to cover your teeth and fill the gap. Bridges are suitable for heavily worn teeth that still have a healthy root and create the same aesthetic as veneers.
Other Solutions for Damaged Teeth
Veneers are a fabulous cosmetic solution for healthy teeth with a compromised appearance. However, the solution for people with a missing, discolored, or decayed tooth may be a different cosmetic procedure.
Laser Tooth Whitening
If your teeth are simply discolored or stained, laser tooth whitening can lighten and brighten the teeth without any need for veneers. This procedure takes around 30 minutes in the dental office plus follow-up care with gel trays at home.
Cosmetic bonding can be used to fill in minor chips and cracks, lengthen a short tooth, or repair a small dental cavity. After roughening up the surface of the tooth, the dentist will apply a dental adhesive followed by composite resin to complete the desired shape of the tooth.
Porcelain Inlays and Onlays
Porcelain inlays and onlays offer a more permanent solution to dental cavities. Instead of applying composite resin, the cosmetic dentist drills out the decayed part of the tooth and takes an impression of the space to be filled. These impressions are sent to the dental lab to create porcelain fillings that are then bonded to the tooth.
If your visible teeth are slightly crooked (and that's why you want veneers), you can straighten them fairly quickly and comfortably with Invisalign. Instead of metal braces, Invisalign uses a series of graduated retainers to straighten crooked or crowded teeth. Once the process is complete, you can get dental implants to fill any remaining gaps in your smile.
Consult a Dentist for a Personalized Solution
Now that you know the answer to the question "Can you get veneers with missing teeth?," the best way to choose a treatment plan is to see an experienced dentist who can assess your mouth and oral health and advise you on the best course of action.
Cosmetic dentistry can help you achieve your dream smile more quickly and painlessly than ever before. And whether you create that smile with veneers, implants, or both, the result will have you smiling all day!