Designing Your Custom Smile with Dental Veneers
Your smile is one of the first things other people notice about you. A beautiful smile can make you appear warm, friendly, and confident. With dental veneers, you can have the smile of your dreams!
What are Dental Veneers?
A veneer is a type of covering or overlay. In dentistry, we can cover the teeth with porcelain or a tooth-colored composite material to change their appearance.
Each tooth is designed to have its own individual veneer covering. Dental veneers typically cover the visible surfaces of the teeth, which includes the side of the teeth facing the lips and cheeks and the portion that wraps around the biting surface.
What Cosmetic Smile Issues can Dental Veneers Improve?
Because dental veneers cover the visible aspects of the teeth, they can improve a wide variety of smiles. However, veneers are simply cosmetic solutions to cosmetic problems. Underlying teeth need to be healthy prior to veneer placement. Veneers do not repair severe dental diseases like large cavities or gum disease. These conditions will require treatment before any cosmetic work can be done.
• Discoloration that does not respond to teeth whitening - There are certain types of staining that teeth whitening cannot brighten. If your teeth have not responded to professional teeth whitening the way you had hoped, you should consider other restorative options like veneers. With veneers, you can choose the brightness of your smile!
• Misshapen or undersized teeth - Not all teeth have the perfect shape and size. In cases of misshapen teeth or teeth that appear too small relative to their neighbors (or too small for the mouth as a whole), we can reshape or resize your teeth.
• Minor crowding - With dental veneers, we can give the appearance of straight teeth without actually straightening them. Veneers are only capable of covering minor crowding. People with severe crowding and overlapping should contact their dental team about Invisalign.
• Small gaps between the teeth - Veneer material, either porcelain or tooth-colored composite resin, can close small gaps. Your dentist will customize the design to ensure that the final shape of the veneers looks natural for your face.
• Chipped or jagged teeth - Due to heavy wear and tear or inappropriate use of the teeth (i.e. using your teeth as tools), some people may develop chips or jagged teeth. Your dentist can rebuild these areas with veneers and help you prevent further damage.
The most valuable benefit of improving your smile with dental veneers is working with your dentist on the custom design. Your dentist can create a smile that is unique and natural, meeting your ideal smile goals.
Am I a Good Candidate for Veneers?
As mentioned previously, dental veneers require healthy underlying teeth and gums. This means that people with large cavities on multiple teeth or chronic gum disease are not currently good candidates for dental veneers. These dental issues require treatment aimed at stopping, repairing, and preventing dental disease. Your dentist will help you determine the necessary treatment to address worsening disease, then you can discuss your options for cosmetically improving your smile.
Dental veneers have some limitations in the smile problems they can correct. When the smile problem includes severe crowding or large gaps between the teeth, you may require orthodontic treatment to straighten the teeth first. After straightening, you and your dentist will reassess your smile to see if the straightening accomplished your smile goals, or if you desire additional cosmetic changes. Many people undergo orthodontic treatment in preparation for dental veneer coverage of the teeth. Invisalign first, veneers second.
Dental Veneers vs. Dental Crowns
Some people are confused by the differences between dental veneers and dental crowns. Both can accomplish cosmetic changes on the front teeth to improve the appearance of the smile. The difference is in how much of the teeth they cover. Veneers only cover the visible portion of the teeth and do not strengthen the teeth structurally. A crown covers the entire exposed portion of a tooth (everything except the root), and does add strength to a weakened tooth.
Your dentist uses dental crowns to repair teeth that have suffered from large decay, fractures or severe wear. Some people who are not candidates for dental veneers may be able to accomplish their smile goals through dental crowns.
What are the Different Types of Veneers?
Traditional veneers are made from porcelain and require the removal of several millimeters of enamel from each tooth being covered. Because these veneers require more preparation of the teeth, your dentist is capable of making more drastic changes in color, shape, and alignment when using this material. Porcelain is beautifully glossy and transparent, closely mimicking the appearance of a natural tooth.
Composite veneers come in both traditional and no-prep varieties. The important difference in these veneers is that they are not made in a dental laboratory like porcelain veneers. Instead, your dentist applies the material directly to the teeth, making the veneers inside your mouth. This provides several advantages, such as no need for temporary veneers and immediate results, meaning your appointment is complete in only a single visit. However, composite material is not as strong, glossy or shiny as porcelain, but still offers a way of reshaping teeth similar to veneers. If damaged, composite material may chip or crack, but your dentist can repair it immediately. In contrast, porcelain veneers cannot be repaired; they must be replaced.
Which is Best for Me?
In order to decide which type of veneer is right for your smile goals, discuss your concerns and desires thoroughly with your dentist. As we mentioned, there are limitations to different types of veneers, so your dentist will need to guide you to which options are best for you.
What is the Process for Getting Dental Veneers?
The first, and most important, step in any form of cosmetic dentistry is your initial consultation. During this visit, you and your dentist will have an in-depth discussion about your goals for your smile. Your dentist must understand your idea of a beautiful smile before he or she can outline the various treatment options you have to achieve those goals.
Once you’ve communicated clearly your desire for the appearance of your new smile, you will schedule an appointment with your dentist to gather information. This will include taking digital scans of your teeth as well as photos of your smile. This information guides your dentist in the planning process.
During your next visit, your dentist prepares the teeth based on the type of veneer you’ve selected. For traditional porcelain veneers, your dentist will use anesthetic to “numb” your teeth so you’re comfortable during the preparation. After preparing the teeth and taking another digital scan, your dentist will cover the teeth with temporary veneers. You’ll receive detailed instructions on how to properly care for your temporary veneers until you come back for the placement of your final veneers.
Typically, porcelain veneers require about two to three weeks in the lab for fabrication. Once the veneers are complete, you will return to your dentist for removal of the temporary veneers, try-in of the porcelain veneers, and, after approval, permanent bonding of the veneers to your teeth.
Make sure to keep up with consistent follow-up care and professional teeth cleanings so your veneers have a long, healthy lifespan.
How Can I Best Take Care of My Veneers?
When properly cared for, veneers can last for many years. Maintenance of veneers requires great teamwork between you and your dentist through a combination of home care and consistent dental visits.
If decay develops on a tooth that has a veneer covering, your dentist may have to remove the veneer and replace it with a filling and new veneer or a new crown. You can prevent cavities through diligent home care and consistent professional cleanings.
In order to prevent cavities from developing on your teeth (and under your veneers), you must consistently and effectively remove dental plaque. Every day, commit to great brushing and flossing techniques. Reduce your intake of acidic and sugary beverages and use products recommended by your dentist to strengthen your tooth enamel.
It’s important to see your dentist and dental hygienist on a regular basis for follow-up visits, especially once you have dental veneers. Your dental hygienist will perform professional teeth cleanings twice each year, removing dental plaque and hardened tartar buildup from areas you have missed. Your dentist will evaluate your mouth for any risk factors or signs of dental disease that have changed since your previous visit.
Prevent Chipping and Debonding
One of the most common reasons veneers require replacement is due to chipping or debonding. “Debonding” means the veneer has come off the tooth in a single piece. This usually occurs as the result of clenching or grinding, a habit that many do subconsciously during sleep.
The simplest and most effective way to protect your veneers from the effects of teeth clenching is through wearing a professional, custom-made nightguard. This hard appliance covers the teeth, protecting them from friction against the opposing teeth and reducing the amount of muscle force the jaws can produce.
Next Steps: Are You Interested in a Custom Smile with Veneers?
Dental veneers can transform your smile! If you are ready to have the smile of your dreams, schedule a consultation and work with your dentist to design a custom smile with veneers.