What are dental veneers?
Dental veneers, also known as porcelain veneers, are extremely thin, custom-designed and fitted prosthetic devices that are made to cover the surface of the teeth in order to improve the way the natural teeth look. They’re made from resin composite materials or porcelain and they’re bonded to the front of the patient’s teeth to change the size, shape, color, or even the length of the teeth. At Washington State Prosthodontics and Dental Implant Center, we regularly use dental veneers to fix a variety of cosmetic dental issues.
Dental veneers1 can be used to repair various types of dental problems. The shells of the veneers can fix tooth discolorations caused by root canal treatment or due to fluorosis or tetracycline. Sometimes resin fillings can cause the teeth to become discolored as well. Veneers can fix this problem too.
Teeth that are broken, chipped, or worn down, misshapen, misaligned, irregular, or that have unsightly gaps between them can also be fixed with veneers. Many aesthetic issues can be fixed through the proper placement of veneers in the mouth. The process is simple, but it does require several visits to the dentist to complete the process.
At Washington State Prosthodontics and Dental Implant Center, we typically require patients to make three appointments with us in order to complete the procedure for placing dental veneers. The first appointment is a consultation. During this appointment, the dentist will examine your teeth to make sure that your situation is appropriate for treatment with veneers. And an overall plan for veneer placement will be created and executed during the two appointments that follow. During the second and third appointments, the veneers will be made and applied.
Because this is a cosmetic procedure, you’ll need to describe your goals to us as Washington State Prosthodontics and Dental Implant Center. What results are you hoping to achieve through the placement of dental veneers? The dentist will speak candidly with you about what the procedure involves and what kind of results to expect from it. If there are limitations to this procedure that could affect the final outcome of the treatment, your dentist will inform you of the limitations at this time. You may need to get X-rays taken or teeth impressions that will be used to design the dental veneers.
Before veneers can be put in place, the dentist will anesthetize the area as needed and then remove about half of a millimeter of enamel from the surface of the tooth. The dental veneer is about half a millimeter as well so the amount of enamel removed is roughly equivalent to the thickness of the veneers. After the enamel is removed, the dentist makes an impression of the tooth and this impression, or a model of the tooth is sent to a dental lab. The veneer is constructed at the lab over the course of about two to four weeks. Temporary dental veneers may be put in place during this time when the veneers are being created, especially if the natural teeth are very unsightly.
At the appointment when the veneer is being placed, the dentist will temporarily place it on the tooth and remove it many times to trim it to fit precisely in your mouth. At Washington State Prosthodontics and Dental Implant Center, we take extra care to examine the new veneer for fit and color. By adjusting the shade of cement to be used, the color can be carefully matched to the natural teeth.
Before placing the veneer, the tooth must be cleaned and polished and then etched or made rough in order to ensure that the veneer will bond properly to the natural tooth. A special cement is used to attach the veneer to the tooth. Once it has been properly positioned, the dentist will shine light at the cement to ensure that it activates and bonds quickly. After the cement has cured, the dentist will remove excess cement to evaluate your bite and make final adjustments in the placement as needed.
A follow-up visit may be necessary a few weeks after veneer placement to make certain that the patient’s bite is comfortable and to make certain that there are no issues that need to be addressed. The dentist may also examine the health of your gums.
Dental veneers offer patients a lot of advantages. They’re an excellent option for correcting a variety of different cosmetic dental issues. They can improve the appearance of natural teeth without harming the gums. Porcelain veneers resist stains and the color of the veneer can be chosen to make stained teeth appear whiter. Veneers provide a way to change the color and shape of teeth without doing a drastic dental procedure. They don’t require the same amount of shaping that’s needed for the placement of crowns, but they do offer a durable, aesthetically pleasing alternative to crowns.
Most of our patients at Washington State Prosthodontics and Dental Implant Center2 report that their dental veneers last between 7 and 15 years. After this time period, patients can have the veneers replaced. Porcelain is extremely durable and because it resists staining, patients get to enjoy white teeth without having to get teeth whitening treatments done on a regular basis. However, your dentist will probably recommend that you avoid foods that might stain the veneers. And veneers do require good oral hygiene practices that are roughly the same as what the dentist would recommend for your natural teeth. Regular brushing, flossing, and the use of mouthwash will help you keep your dental veneers in good shape.
Dental veneers are an alternative to crowns and bondings. They provide an intermediate option that’s especially suitable for patients who wish to change the shape of their teeth just a little bit. Bonding can be used to make slight changes to the shape of the teeth. Crowns can too. But while bonding can be used for very minor problems, crowns tend to be used most often for issues that are more serious. Dental veneers offer a suitable middle-ground option for patients who would like to fix mild to moderate cosmetic dental problems through a procedure that’s still relatively conservative.