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), while a porcelain veneer may only be indirectly fabricated by a dental technician. A full veneer crown is described as "a restoration that covers all the coronal tooth surfaces". Laminate veneer, on the other hand, is a thin layer that covers only the surface of the tooth and is generally used for aesthetic purposes.
Veneers are a prosthetic device, by prescription only. 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 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. In many cases, minimal to no tooth preparation is needed when using porcelain veneers.