Veneers are a cosmetic dental procedure in which a thin layer of porcelain or composite material is placed over the outside of the tooth. They are used to improve esthetics or help with tooth damage. Veneers are usually only done to the parts of the teeth that are visible when talking or smiling. The procedure can be direct or indirect.
The direct technique usually involves placing composite resin on the outside of the tooth using bonding. Because of that, the direct technique is usually referred to as bonding.
The indirect technique usually involves two appointments because the veneers are fabricated at a dental laboratory. At the first appointment the teeth are prepared, impressions are taken and the teeth are given a temporary covering. The veneers are back from the laboratory after 2 or 3 weeks. The temporaries are removed and the veneers are bonded to the teeth. The laboratory fabricated veneers are usually made using porcelain or pressed ceramic and are aesthetically pleasing.
The advantage of veneers versus crowns is that much less of the tooth material has to be removed and the procedure is generally more comfortable. Crowns are recommended for patients who have large fillings or little tooth structure.