Dental Veneers

What are Veneers?

For patients whose teeth may be worn, chipped, stained or cracked and who wish to restore their smile to its former glory or even get the look of a new smile altogether, veneers may be the answer to your dental needs.

Veneers are one of the most common cosmetic dentistry procedures for patients who are looking to enhance their smile. Veneers are similar to acrylic fingernails in that a very thin shell is applied over the existing tooth which allows patients to have the exact color, size and shape of the tooth or teeth that they want.

Veneers give patients the option to keep their smile as natural looking as possible, or enhance it for a movie-star grin. It’s entirely up to you about how you want your smile to look.

A teenager learns to properly brush at dental depot

Veneers treatment typically takes one to two appointments, depending on whether or not the dental lab is making the veneer or if the dentist is handcrafting it themselves. Here’s what you can expect following your consultation:

  1. The dentist will clean your tooth and shade match it. Then, typically, they will remove a very thin layer of enamel from the tooth to make room for the veneer to sit naturally. Sometimes this step is not necessary and your dentist can apply the veneer directly over the existing tooth. Removing this layer of enamel, often about .5mm, does not cause pain but sometimes local numbing is used to put the patient at ease.
  2. The dentist then makes an impression of the tooth for the dental lab and places a temporary veneer over the tooth while we wait for the final to be delivered. Think of this as a trial run of your new smile. Most veneers are ready in 7-10 days so you’ll have time to determine if you want any adjustments before the final veneers are applied.
  3. When the veneer(s) arrive, the dentist will remove the temporary and clean the tooth with pumice and water. The final veneer is prepped in a process called etching, and then placed on the tooth with dental adhesives.
  4. Next, the veneer is cured with a special light for 60 seconds on all surfaces to make sure the bond is set.
  5. Lastly, the dentist will remove any excess material and clean up around the edges to make sure it blends in seamlessly with the rest of your teeth.

Veneers are made of one of two materials: porcelain or composite resin. Both of these materials are commonly used in dentistry, most often for crowns and fillings. Depending on the aesthetic you’re looking to achieve, your dentist will help you decide which will work best for your needs.

Porcelain veneers are the most natural looking and longest lasting of the two options, and are often crafted in the dental lab and applied by the dentist. With proper care, porcelain veneers can last anywhere from 10-20 years. While porcelain veneers are favored by most patients for their cosmetic appeal and durability, they are the more expensive of the two options.

Composite resin veneers can be applied directly onto the tooth by a dentist in the office, this process is sometimes called dental bonding and can be useful for mending smaller chips or defects in teeth as opposed to covering the entire front of the tooth. While composite veneers are significantly cheaper than porcelain, they typically only last about 5 years.

No matter which type of veneer you choose, know that eventually they will need to be replaced.

Tooth enamel is made of minerals, and when exposed to strong acid, its mineral content (and strength) can be stripped away. A naturally occurring mineral, fluoride is scientifically proven to strengthen teeth by attracting minerals to the surface of tooth enamel, which will ultimately help replenish lost mineral content. Strong, healthy tooth enamel is key in protecting teeth against cavity causing bacteria. Fluoride treatments are quick and easy and involve simply applying a fluoridated varnish or gel to the teeth.

Dental sealants are another preventive method for protecting teeth from bacteria and decay. Using a disease-resistant, plastic compound, sealants are applied over the pits and grooves of the teeth and quickly hardened with a curing light. This ensures that the biting surfaces of the teeth are more protected against damage and harmful bacteria.

Treat your veneers like you would your natural teeth by brushing and flossing regularly and seeing your dentist for your twice yearly check-ups. Try to use non-abrasive fluoride toothpaste. If discoloration was a prior problem, consider limiting your intake of stain-causing substances like coffee or tobacco, as dental prosthetics like veneers, crowns and bridges cannot be whitened in the future. While porcelain veneers are stain-resistant, composite veneers are liable to stain like natural teeth, so stay on top of your oral care.

Understand that your veneers will need to be replaced in the future. While porcelain veneers can last between 10-20 years with good care and composite veneers can last up to 5 years, they’ll need to be traded in for a new set once they wear out. Take time to consider if veneers are the best option for you, because once the enamel is trimmed from the front of your tooth, it can’t be left uncovered again.

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