Temporary veneers (or interim veneers) are fitted over teeth that have been trimmed down a bit for permanent veneers, while the permanent ones are being made in the dental laboratory. They are made of tooth-colored acrylic resin, and stay on your teeth for about 5 to 10 days, until the permanent ones are ready.
The word "veneer" is a good description. Sometimes they are also called "porcelain laminates". They literally are thin veneers of acrylic (for temporary veneers) or of porcelain / ceramic (for permanent veneers or laminates.)
Temporary veneers are made by the dentist, right at the chairside, as opposed to being manufactured in a dental laboratory. They can be quite difficult to do well, and the dentist has to take his time!
Why do you need temporary veneers?
There are three main reasons:
When might you NOT need temporaries?
There are two possibilities for NOT needing temporaries:
How are the interim veneers made?
There are 2 methods. If you are only having from 1 to 3 veneers, then your dentist may choose to make up the interim veneers by hand, using a tooth-colored filling material. He can sculpt and shape the filling material so that it has the size and shape that you are aiming for with the new veneers.
Your dentist will probably fix the filling material to the tooth using just a small drop of bonding agent ("glue") on the tooth. This will be strong enough to hold the interim veneer in place while you are eating and drinking, but also allow him to pop it off easily enough when it's time to fit the permanent veneers.
The other option, which is frequently used when you are getting 4 or more than 4 veneers, is to use a small mould of the wax mock-up. During the planning phase of your treatment, the lab guy will have made up a model of your teeth with the new veneers built in white wax. They will be exactly the size and shape of the final veneers.
Your dentist can make a small putty mould of the mock-up, and use it to make the temporaries. He can put a little liquid acrylic into the mould, position it over your own teeth (after the trimming), and the acrylic then sets in the shape of the mock-up.
When the dentist takes the putty mould out of your mouth, the acrylic is left behind on your teeth, a perfect copy of the wax mock-up! The edges will need to be polished, and any excess bits taken away, but within a few minutes it's all done.
So now you have tooth-colored acrylic veneers in the size and shape that the dentist and lab guy have planned. You can see how the final veneers will look and feel.
If you think that you want to change something, for example the front teeth are a little too long, you can tell the dentist. He can then instruct the lab guy to make this change to the permanent veneers as he's building them up.
The acrylic veneers stay in place because they are all joined together in one piece, and "lock in" between your own teeth. They are not bonded to the teeth, and so you may experience some sensitivity with cold water or when brushing your teeth. This is normal.
This also means that you can't floss easily between the temporary veneers. However it IS possible by using either a dental floss threader, or Oral B Superfloss, to thread floss between the veneers at gum level. I recommend trying to get floss through between the veneers if you can, but go very gently!
And you should continue to brush the gums around the veneers as normal. Don't worry about loosening a veneer, it's much more important to prevent plaque building up!
Temporary veneers can look very good, although it's important to remember that they can not look as good as the final porcelain veneers. However they serve to protect the teeth, and give you a trial run of how the final veneers could look.