Porcelain veneers are becoming more and more popular in both the fields of cosmetic dentistry and general dentistry. This dental restoration provides patients suffering from chronic or difficult tooth discoloration with whiter, brighter teeth, but can be used to fix a variety of other dental issues as well. This is one of the fastest and easiest ways that patients can choose to improve the overall appearance of their smile.
What are porcelain veneers?
Porcelain veneers are a dental restoration that consists of a very thin shell of tooth-colored porcelain. This shell is placed over the visible surfaces of your front teeth in order to improve the overall look of your smile. While it is generally considered a purely cosmetic treatment, porcelain veneers can be used in restorative dentistry to correct a number of general dental issues. In some cases, porcelain veneers may be preferred to more extensive treatments such as dental crowns.
What dental issues can porcelain veneers fix?
There are a number of cosmetic and general dentistry issues that porcelain veneers may be used to correct, including:
- Discolored teeth – this is the most common use for porcelain veneers. Stains that have formed on the teeth due to the food we eat or beverages patients consume can build up over time, as do tobacco stains. While in some cases, these stains can be removed via bleaching or a simple cleaning, some stains are more stubborn. Age, certain medications, and some genetic conditions can also cause tooth discoloration that cannot be corrected using other means. Porcelain veneers allow patients with these conditions to have a bright and beautifully white smile once again.
- Tooth injuries – some injuries to the teeth can be fixed with porcelain veneers. Smaller chips and cracks are easily corrected with veneers, as are teeth that have become uneven due to conditions such as nighttime teeth grinding (bruxism). In these cases, the porcelain veneers are often used as an alternative to dental crowns or other more extensive treatment options.
- Misshapen or misaligned teeth – porcelain veneers can disguise the appearance of unnaturally shaped teeth.
- Unusual gaps between teeth – porcelain veneers can be used to close unusually large gaps between teeth.
When are porcelain veneers appropriate?
If your tooth discoloration is due to diet or personal habits, our dentist may recommend a series of deep cleanings and whitening treatments be used before you try porcelain veneers. This is because placing a veneer requires a small portion of the healthy tooth enamel to be removed, which is a permanent treatment. However, if your veneers are being used to repair broken, chipped, or cracked teeth, a porcelain veneer may be preferable. This is because a dental crown requires more of the enamel to be removed than the veneer will, and most dentists prefer to remove as little of the healthy tooth as possible when placing a dental restoration.
How should I care for my porcelain veneers?
Porcelain veneers are stain-resistant, but will still need to be cared for properly. Brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing once a day will help to keep your porcelain veneers looking their best for as long as possible. You will also want to discontinue any use of tobacco products. Our dentist may also recommend that certain foods or beverages be avoided if he believes that they may cause damage or staining. If you grind your teeth during the night, you will be prescribed a protective mouth guard to wear while you are sleeping.
What is the process of planning the veneers?
In order to determine if you will be a good candidate for porcelain veneers, our dentist will perform a thorough examination to check the health of your teeth, gums, and the underlying bone structure in your mouth. If he feels that there are alternative treatments you should try or if you are experiencing any dental health issues that should be corrected before porcelain veneers can be used, these will be discussed with you.
Once it is determined that porcelain veneers are a good treatment option for your particular dental issue, our dentist will draw up a treatment plan. The look of your new smile will be carefully discussed, and you will be allowed to choose your preferred shade, shape, and length of your porcelain veneers. You will then be shown a model of what you can expect your smile to look like once the porcelain veneers are put into place.
What is involved in placing porcelain veneers?
During your consultation, our dentist will take an impression of your teeth that will be sent to a dental laboratory in order to create your porcelain veneers. Your teeth will also need to be prepared for the veneers. Your mouth will be numbed using a local anesthetic and a small portion of the enamel will be removed from the teeth where the veneer will be placed. Once the enamel is removed, the impression will be made. After a period of around six weeks, the porcelain veneers will arrive back in our office and a special dental cement will be used to permanently bond the restoration to your teeth.
Porcelain Veneers Recovery and Post-Procedure Care
Porcelain veneers are very durable and stain-resistant when cared for properly. You will need to continue your daily oral health regimen of brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing once per day. You will also need to return to our office once or twice per year so that our dentist can check the restoration for any damage or staining, and adjust the veneers if necessary. If you notice any damage between visits to our office, you will need to contact us and schedule an appointment to have your porcelain veneers repaired or replaced as soon as possible.