In dentistry, a veneer is a layer of material placed over a tooth, veneers improve the aesthetics of a smile and/or protect the tooth's surface from damage. There are two main types of material used to fabricate a veneer: composite and dental porcelain. A composite veneer may be directly placed (built-up in the mouth), or indirectly fabricated by a dental technician in a dental lab, and later bonded to the tooth, typically using a resin cement. In contrast, a porcelain veneer may only be indirectly fabricated. A full veneer crown is described as "a restoration that covers all the coronal tooth surfaces (Mesial, Distal, Facial, Lingual and Occlusal)". Laminate veneer, on the other hand, is a thin layer that covers only the surface of the tooth and generally used for aesthetic purposes.
Veneers are a prosthetic device, by prescription only, used by the cosmetic dentist. A dentist may use one veneer to restore a single tooth that may have been fractured or discolored, or in most cases multiple teeth on the upper arch to create a big bright "Hollywood" type of smile makeover. Many people have small teeth resulting in spaces that may not be easily closed by orthodontics.
Some people have worn away the edges of their teeth resulting in a prematurely aged appearance, while others may have malpositioned tooth/teeth that appear crooked. Multiple veneers can close these spaces, lengthen teeth that have been shortened by wear, fill the black triangles between teeth caused by gum recession, provide a uniform color, shape, and symmetry, and make the teeth appear straight. Dentists also recommend using thin porcelain veneers to strengthen worn teeth. It is also applied to yellow teeth that won't whiten. Thin veneers are an effective option for aging patients with worn dentition. In many cases, minimal to no tooth preparation is needed when using porcelain veneers.