Through modern dentistry, there are a variety of ways to improve the appearance of your teeth. Regular dental care, including good oral hygiene and routine oral exams and cleanings, go a long way toward keeping teeth in tip-top shape. However, some things are beyond your control, and you may still be unsatisfied with the way your teeth look. Whether they are chipped, stained, irregularly shaped or have other cosmetic flaws, dental veneers may be the answer.
Are Dental Veneers Right for You?
If teeth whitening isn't a viable solution and you'd like to avoid having a crown placed, porcelain veneers may be something to consider. Unlike teeth whitening, veneers don't actually remove stains from the teeth; they cover them up instead. They can also be used to successfully mask other flaws like small gaps between the teeth, discolored teeth, uneven teeth or misaligned teeth. Porcelain veneers can't be removed once they are placed because they are permanently bonded to the teeth. Therefore, you have to be willing to make a permanent change to the appearance of your smile.
What are Porcelain Veneers?
Although resin composite veneers are also available, most patients opt for porcelain veneers. That's mostly because porcelain veneers look the most natural. They consist of extremely thin pieces of porcelain. Most veneers are just a few millimeters thick. They are also mostly translucent, so they reflect the light in a way that closely mimics natural teeth. This is important because opaque veneers would be very apparent and would make your smile look unnatural.
Porcelain veneers are custom-designed for each patient. Your dentist will examine the affected teeth to ensure that the correct veneers are designed. Impressions and X-rays may also be used to facilitate the design process. The goal is to create wafer-thin veneers that fit as naturally as possible over the teeth. When they are correctly designed, it's virtually impossible to tell that they have been placed. Stains and other imperfections will be gone, but the teeth themselves will look completely natural.
Veneers are bonded permanently to the teeth using special cement. When they are placed, the cement is cured with a special light, which causes a chemical reaction. This chemical reaction is what actually bonds the veneer permanently to the tooth. Although it's technically possible for a veneer to become dislodged or to fall off, it's exceedingly rare. The typical porcelain veneer should last a decade or more, so it's a viable long-term solution to dental imperfections.
What to Expect
The process of having veneers designed and placed is simple and straightforward. Before anything else can happen, you need to let your dentist know that you're interested in veneers. This is an elective procedure, so it's usually not something that is actually prescribed. During your next oral exam, mention your interest in veneers to your dentist.
A few steps you can expect to follow during the process include:
Initial Exam - At this appointment, your dentist will examine the affected teeth in order to send accurate information to the dental lab. X-rays, 3-D imaging and impressions may also be taken to ensure accuracy. This information will be sent to the lab, and your custom porcelain veneers will be created within about one to two weeks.
No Prep Veneers- Porcelain veneers can generally be placed in a single visit. The first step is preparing the affected teeth. The dentist may remove a small amount of enamel from the teeth to eliminate misaligned teeth. The teeth will then be cleaned, polished and etched, which makes the surface rougher to facilitate more secure bonding.
Placement - Before applying the cement that will bond the veneers to your teeth, the dentist will place the custom veneers to ensure that they fit properly, He may need to trim or otherwise adjust the veneers, but this shouldn't take long. Once the dentist is confident about the placement, cement will be applied and the veneers will be positioned. A hand-held light will then be used to permanently bond the veneers to the teeth.
Final Steps - Once the cement is completely hardened and the veneers are successfully bonded, the dentist will remove excess cement from the teeth and evaluate your bite. A follow-up appointment may be scheduled to ensure the quality of the veneers, or your dentist may wait until your next regularly scheduled oral exam.
Once the process is complete, you can expect your veneers to last for several years. The appearance of your teeth will be improved instantly. Porcelain veneers are resistant to stains, but you should still practice good oral hygiene. Come in for regular oral exams and follow your dentist's advice as usual. You're sure to love your new, flaw-free smile.