Healthy Beginnings

Veneers: Durability and Style for a Sparkling Smile

veneers300Seeking cosmetic dental treatment is about more than vanity. In a culture that is image-driven, the appearance of your smile can make or break chances for employment, sales and relationships before a single word is spoken.

Cleaning and whitening aren’t always enough to produce the beautiful smile that reflects your personal style. Grey-stained, white-spotted, or naturally yellow-tinted teeth often don’t respond well to whitening techniques, and they also don’t fix problems with gaps, chips, fractures or malformations. In these cases, dental veneers might be the solution for you.

Veneers are thin strips of porcelain, ceramic or resin bonded to the tooth surface to conceal chipped, or slightly crooked upper and lower front teeth (teeth with serious issues may need to be orthodontically treated first). Uneven gaps between teeth, or a large space between the front teeth (diastema), can also be corrected. From this procedure a beautiful, natural-looking new smile emerges.

In order to be a candidate for veneers, your teeth must be reasonably healthy and free from severe decay, and your gums must be free from active periodontal disease. If you clench your teeth or grind them, it’s not a good choice, since veneers are thin and could peel or crack under such constant pressure.

The most common types of veneers are ceramic, porcelain, and resin-based composite:

Resin veneers are the least expensive and can sometimes be applied in a single office visit, but they do not last as long as the others (an estimated 5-7 years). They are prone to staining unlike porcelain or ceramic, and the appearance is not as natural as the others. Resin veneers can chip more easily than porcelain or ceramic, but can usually be repaired.

Porcelain and ceramic veneers are more expensive and take more than one office visit for application. They are custom-made by a skilled laboratory technician to meet the patient’s specific needs. They are more durable (10-15 years), and stains can generally be polished away during routine cleanings. Porcelain veneers are thinner than ceramic veneers, requiring less tooth-surface preparation. They most closely resemble natural tooth enamel. The doctor performing this service will generally recommend the type of veneer that is most appropriate for each specific patient.

With all types of veneers, teeth are prepared by a thorough cleaning. Sometimes no further shaping is required to prepare the tooth. With a moderate preparation, irregular contours and chips are removed to improve alignment. Some cases may require aggressive preparation; this involves removing an extensive amount of the front, sides and incisal edge of the teeth, similar to what is done for a standard crown.

For ceramic and porcelain veneers, once the initial preparation is completed, your dentist makes an impression of your teeth and color-matches the shade that will best blend. The impressions are sent to a laboratory where your veneers are manufactured, and you may be fitted with temporary veneers until the second appointment. During the next visit, your custom-made veneers are fitted, shaped and adjusted, before being bonded to your teeth.

Resin-based composite veneers may be applied in one appointment. Following preparation, the dentist matches the composite to the color of your teeth, then sculpts and bonds it to the surface. After that, it’s hardened using a special light, smoothed and then polished.

Decay can occur around the edges of the veneers, just like it can develop around the edges of fillings and standard crowns. Nothing prevents decay forming on any tooth, except good hygiene, and regular professional dental care. The veneer surfaces can be damaged, so avoid chewing ice, and discontinue bad habits–like pencil-gnawing, smoking and drinking beverages that stain. Some staining of porcelain or ceramic veneers can be removed by a professional polishing.

Cosmetic dentistry can work wonders for your image. Schedule an appointment to consult with your dentist. Discover the best options for a brighter smile today!



For more info, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. J.S. McElhinney, III call (775) 525-8877.