Each of us has some imperfections with our teeth. A tooth may be crooked, another chipped. There may be a gap between teeth, or they may be discolored beyond what whitening can address. Porcelain veneers are the perfect cosmetic cover-up, giving you a beautiful smile for the world to see without a lengthy series of procedures.
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What Are Dental Veneers?
The idea behind dental veneers is similar to the furniture world, where a thin “ veneer ” of rare wood is placed over lesser wood beneath, presenting a beautiful exterior. Dental veneers are thin shells of porcelain that are placed on the front sides of your natural teeth to cover imperfections. Porcelain veneers can completely reshape your teeth and transform your smile. The porcelain mimics the slight translucence and reflective characteristics of natural tooth enamel, so all anyone sees is a beautiful, perfect smile.
What Are the Benefits of Porcelain Veneers?
Porcelain veneers provide you with a way to makeover your smile, simply and in a way that looks natural. Because veneers are affixed over the entire front surface of a tooth or teeth, there are very few limitations to what can be achieved through this technique. Dr. Steven E. Holbrook offers porcelain veneers at our Albuquerque office for the following issues:
- Cosmetically, to create a uniform, white, beautiful smile.
- Crooked teeth.
- Misshapen teeth.
- Severely discolored or stained teeth.
- Teeth that are too small or large.
- Unwanted or uneven spaces.
- Worn or chipped teeth.
What Is the Difference Between Porcelain Veneers & Porcelain Crowns?
Porcelain veneers are only cosmetic improvements for teeth, changing the shape, size, color, and such. Veneers do not add strength or function to damaged teeth. So, a tooth that is going to receive a veneer needs to be healthy.
Porcelain crowns, on the other hand, return strength to teeth that are seriously damaged, decayed, or otherwise compromised. They can change the appearance of a tooth or teeth as veneers do, but they do so by completely covering the tooth all the way down to the gum line.
Porcelain Veneers Before And After
Who Are the Ideal Candidates for Dental Veneers?
It’s important to remember that porcelain veneers are a cosmetic procedure; they don’t solve underlying problems with the teeth. Instances of decay or problems with the gums need to be taken care of before veneers are applied. Serious problems with a tooth’s strength, such as an overly large filling that is compromising the tooth integrity, may require a crown instead of a veneer.
Porcelain Veneers Procedure
Dr. Holbrook needs two appointments to place your porcelain veneers. During the first appointment, your teeth are prepared for the veneers.
- First, we thoroughly clean your teeth. If you have extensive cosmetic stains, we may recommend whitening first to get your teeth back to their original natural color. Dr. Holbrook then uses a shade guide to determine the veneer color that matches your natural tooth color.
- Next, the teeth are prepped for the veneers. This involves shaving a tiny fraction (from 0.3 mm to 0.5 mm) of tooth enamel off the front of the teeth receiving veneers. This is necessary to make room for the veneers on the fronts of the teeth. Once this is completed, we take impressions of your teeth and send them to the dental lab for fabrication of your custom veneers. It usually takes about one to two weeks to make your veneers, so we place temporary veneers in the meantime and you return home.
- When your veneers are finished, you return for your second appointment. Dr. Holbrook checks your veneers for color match and fit. If necessary, he may shave off small bits here or there. Then your teeth are lightly etched with acid gel, which roughens the tooth to allow for a strong bonding process. The special cement is applied to the veneer and the veneer is placed onto your tooth. Dr. Holbrook uses a special light to quickly cure the cement. Once all the veneers have been placed, Dr. Holbrook will remove any excess cement, and make any final adjustments to your veneers.
The length of time it takes to get your veneers is directly related to the number of veneers you are receiving.
What Is the Recovery From a Porcelain Veneers Procedure?
There is a process involved in getting porcelain veneers. First, we ensure that oral health is optimal. If necessary, teeth are repaired and cleaned before we commence with cosmetic work. After this step, we prepare teeth for their new sheaths of porcelain. A porcelain veneer is about as thick as a fingernail. To achieve a flush mount against teeth and gums, we reduce enamel by the same thickness. After this initial phase of treatment, slight sensitivity may occur. Some patients refrain from hot or cold foods during their course of treatment to manage this minor recovery period. Aside from sensitivity, there are no side effects from veneer treatment that would require time off from normal activities.
How Long Do Porcelain Veneers Last?
Porcelain veneers last anywhere from seven to 20 years. The lifespan can be dictated by changes with the underlying teeth or surrounding gum tissue. If a veneer happens to detach, it can usually be re-attached.
It’s important to note, however, that having porcelain veneers is a lifetime arrangement. Because some tooth enamel is removed to make room for each veneer, the tooth cannot be left uncovered. So, when your veneers reach their lifespan, you’ll need to have new veneers applied.
How to Maintain My Porcelain Veneers
Normal home hygiene is all that is needed to care for your veneers. Choose non-abrasive toothpaste. You should use common sense with foods such as candy apples and chew aggressively on bones. Chewing ice and biting your fingernails can occasionally dislodge a veneer, so those kinds of things should be avoided.
Are Porcelain Veneers as Strong as Real Teeth?
Dental porcelain has been made for two purposes: natural appearance and durability. For porcelain veneers to be as popular as they are, they must perform extremely well. If you have veneers, you can expect to be able to enjoy normal biting and chewing function. To ensure success, we must explore what that means.
Normal biting and chewing function relate to breaking down soft to moderately dense or crunchy foods. Using your natural teeth, you could bite into an apple or chew a piece of steak without injury. You could not, however, frequently bite on hard objects such as a pen cap or ice cubes without eventually chipping or cracking a tooth. Veneers are similar. Additionally, veneers are affixed to real teeth. This means there is a substance in between the veneer and natural enamel. The chemical bond between porcelain and enamel is strong enough to withstand that bite into a piece of apple, but it can be diminished by biting into a chewy piece of taffy or steak that requires a twist to break apart. Proper use of teeth is a prominent aspect of enjoying veneers for many years.
Alternatives to Porcelain Veneers
There are numerous treatments that may enhance the appearance of the smile. Depending on your concerns and desired outcome, you may consider techniques such as teeth whitening to brighten your smile or bonding to disguise minor damage or flaws. In some cases, dental crowns may be a good alternative to porcelain veneers.
Dr. Holbrook is interested in helping each of our patients get results that will last for years while simultaneously attending to their preferences.
Our thorough consultation process will allow you to discuss your concerns and goals. Our discussion with you will allow us to develop the most appropriate course of treatment.
Will I Need to Straighten My Natural Teeth Before Getting Veneers?
Porcelain veneers have been touted as an expansive treatment that is capable of correcting a number of imperfections, including alignment issues. This is accurate but within certain limitations. For veneers to last as long as possible, it is ideal for the bite to be generally aligned. When teeth do not fit together well, increased pressure may be sustained during biting and chewing. Therefore, some people may benefit from teeth-straightening treatment before moving on to veneers.
In cases of minor turning or spacing issues, it is possible that veneers may be installed without additional treatments to address alignment.
Can Porcelain Veneers Become Stained?
The reason why natural enamel becomes stained is that our teeth are porous. Like the skin, enamel has thousands of microscopic channels that extend inward from the outermost surface. Staining occurs when debris accumulates in those channels. Dental porcelain is non-porous. The absence of channels in the material virtually eliminates the risks of staining. However, it is necessary to understand the value of good oral care.
As durable as dental porcelain is, the material can be scratched. Scratches are similar to the channels present in enamel; they are tiny divots in which debris can accumulate and cause discoloration. The primary way that abrasions occur on porcelain veneers is the use of whitening toothpaste. Our team can recommend products and techniques that can avoid scratches on veneers. Additionally, once you have porcelain veneers, you want to inform your dental hygienist so they do not use abrasive tooth polish during routine cleanings.
How Much Do Porcelain Veneers Cost?
A smile makeover using porcelain veneers is a completely customized process. The overall cost is determined by factors including the number of veneers needed to achieve the desired outcome and the necessity for complementary treatments such as teeth whitening or restorative care. Our staff provides a detailed cost estimate for you at your initial consultation.