Dental veneers are thin shells of tooth-colored material that covers the front surface of your teeth. They are usually made of porcelain but can be made of some other materials as well. Veneers are desired both for cosmetic reasons and after injuries that alter the appearance of the teeth in an undesirable way.
The following is a guide to the veneer procedure as well as some information about who are good candidates for this procedure. Veneers are one of the most commonly desired products in cosmetic dentistry & prosthodontics.
What is the veneer procedure?
Typically, the entire process requires three visits. First is your consultation followed by two visits to make and apply the veneers. Veneers can be applied to one tooth or many in one session. There are no limitations.
To give you an overview of the process, here is a quick list:
- Examination – your teeth are examined. This is where you will talk to Dr. Twomey about your desires and expectations for your teeth. You will talk about color shade and shape. You should take an active role in this process. It is important to determine exactly what you are looking for, as veneers are a permanent modification to the tooth.
- Tooth Preparation – Some of the enamel may need to be removed from the tooth. Some added thickness with the veneer needs to be accommodated for in order to ensure you do not notice any difference smiling, chewing, etc. We want for the veneer to be a completely natural extension in the image of the original tooth, assuming that isn’t what we are fixing.
- Impressions – Impressions are made of the teeth to produce an exact replica. Impressions are used when creating models. Porcelain veneers are shaped around these models.
- Temporary Veneers – Veneers can take time to be crafted properly. In the interim, you are sometimes given temporary, removable veneers to wear. This happens most when veneers are needed due to an injury that has altered the teeth. Once your veneers are ready, these will be removed.
- Fitting – Dr. Twomey and his team will evaluate the fit of the veneer that has been crafted. At this time, you can check things like the shape, color, fit, and feel of the veneer to make sure you are happy with it. You should have all of your expectations met or explained before the final bonding of the veneer. Once bonded, it is best not to have to adjust them.
- Cleaning – Once your veneers are approved by you and they meet Dr. Twomey’s standard, your teeth will be cleaned in preparation for the bonding process (explained below). Cleaning solution consists of a mildly acidic solution.
The bonding process
Veneers are temporarily bonded to the tooth before they are permanently cemented. This is when fit and color are examined to make sure they are perfect. Dr. Twomey will remove and trim down the veneer as needed. The color or shade can be tweaked by using different types of cement.
From there, the tooth will be polished and etched. The etching makes the front of the tooth a little bit rough to allow for a strong bonding process. Cement is placed on the tooth and the veneer is positioned.
Dr. Twomey will apply a special beam of light to the veneer. Chemicals activate in the cement, causing it to harden quickly and permanently.
Sometimes, a follow-up visit may be required so Dr. Twomey can take a look at the gums to see how they are responding to the new veneer.
Life with new veneers
You’ll notice quickly that living with veneers is not much of a hassle at all. Brushing and flossing are exactly the same. There are, however, a few things to keep in mind for taking care of a new (or existing) set of veneers. Here are some of the things that can affect their lifespan:
Veneers offer these advantages:
- They look just like your natural teeth. Shading, as well as texture, are matched to your underlying and other teeth.
- The gums are very tolerant of porcelain.
- Porcelain is a stain resistant material. They will last a long time without any need for re-coloring or cleaning.
- If your teeth were discolored before or darker than they should be, veneers can correct the coloration and bring a better coloring to your smile.
- When compared to crowns, veneers offer an easier approach to changing the tooth’s shape and color. They don’t require the extensive work shaping and coloring that crowns do, yet they offer a stronger alternative.
You can still experience tooth decay under a veneer. The natural tooth tissue is still under there and susceptible to the same issues it was before. If you do experience a cavity, the veneer needs to be removed. It will be replaced again once Dr. Twomey is able to ensure the tooth is once again healthy.
Physical damage that is dangerous to your natural tooth is even more so when wearing porcelain veneers. Accidents, falls, and hits directly to the teeth can result in veneers being chipped or cracked. They will usually need to be replaced.
The habitual grinding or gnashing of one’s teeth is known as bruxism. It happens most while you are asleep if you have this issue. This behavior can wear away at your natural teeth as well as a veneer over time.
Porcelain is used for veneers partially because it is highly stain resistant, just like a natural tooth. However, it is still possible to discolor a veneer over time. Things like smoking, drinking coffee, and lodged food particles can cause discoloration over time. Proper hygiene is just as important with veneers as it is without.
Getting veneers polished
A prosthodontist, like Dr. Twomey, can help preserve the life of your veneers with a simple polish. You can perform this as frequently as every 3 months, but will not need to unless you want to.
You can damage your porcelain veneers over time with bad habits like nail biting or chewing on things you shouldn’t be chewing on (pen caps, water bottle caps, etc.).
Maintaining proper hygiene is especially important in extending the lifespan of your porcelain veneer or veneers. The decay of the tooth may cause them to loosen or need to be replaced. Patients wearing veneers need to be conscious and keep their teeth as clean and healthy as possible. Over time, when cement begins to lose some of its attachment, small crevices can from behind the veneer, allowing food and other objects to be lodged inside. A visit to our office is sometimes required in these instances.
The bottom line here is that you need to be just as conscious of your hygiene and tooth health with veneers as you are with your natural teeth. Brushing and flossing are always essential.
Good candidates for dental veneers
Veneers are not the right solution for every tooth or every patient. Dr. Twomey will work with you to determine if you are a good fit. Veneering the teeth is not something that can be reversed. Some of the tooth structure needs to be removed in order to achieve the proper result and consistency for bonding. Only examination by Dr. Twomey will determine whether this is the right approach for getting the change you want in your teeth.
Some issues that may make veneers NOT your best option include:
- Unhealthy teeth
- Weak teeth
- Teeth lacking proper amounts of enamel
- People who habitually grind or gnash their teeth (Bruxism)
- Severely misaligned teeth
You should now be prepared to have an intelligent discussion with Dr. Twomey at your consultation for veneers. Of course, if you have any other questions or wish to schedule a consultation for veneers at our office in Edina, get in touch with us. We would be happy to help.
Until next time,