You probably think of dental veneers as a way of improving someone's smile—even giving it a total makeover. And since you might not be interested in a smile makeover, you perhaps assumed that veneers weren't for you. However, if you have a single gray tooth that requires cosmetic attention, it might not be that you need veneers—you in fact need a veneer.
There are numerous reasons why a single tooth may turn gray. It can be the aftereffects of root canal treatment on the tooth; or discoloration that originates from a dental restoration (such as a filling)—particularly when the restoration contained metallic components. It can also be simple trauma to the tooth, which causes the tooth's pulp (its nerve) to die. Alternatively, it can be a previous infection to the tooth's pulp—even if the tooth made a complete recovery. As the pulp became inflamed and swollen, it may have left blood deposits on the internal sections of your tooth. When viewed from the exterior of the tooth, these stains can have a gray hue.
Whatever the reason, chances are that you've already tried to whiten the tooth in question. This won't deliver the results you're seeking, as whitening can only address extrinsic stains (those affecting the tooth's exterior). Your gray tooth is intrinsic staining—as in it originated from inside the tooth. More decisive measures are needed to cover the discoloration.
Dental crowns are an option, but the process (removing dental enamel and fitting a porcelain shell over the entire tooth) can be unnecessarily invasive. Dental veneers offer comprehensive results with minimal effort. The veneer itself is a small, incredibly thin porcelain shell, cut to match the outward-facing shape of the tooth it's to cover. It will be precisely matched to the color of your other teeth.
Application and Care
A small amount of your tooth's surface enamel is removed to fit the veneer—so that your tooth's width isn't uncomfortably increased once the veneer is added. Only enamel from the tooth's outward-facing side is removed, making the process far less invasive than receiving a dental crown over the whole tooth. The veneer is then cemented onto your tooth, and with proper care (just brush it along with your other teeth), it will look pristine for years (around ten years, if not longer).
Even though you might only need a veneer for a single tooth, once that gray tooth is hidden, the end results are very much a smile makeover.