Few people will disagree that a white smile with aligned teeth is attractive. When your teeth are no longer white due to wear or staining, or you’ve chipped one without even realizing it and are left with uneven edges, veneers might be a solution to get back the smile you loved. This quick solution to discolored teeth that are unresponsive to whitening agents is soaring in popularity.
What is a dental veneer?
A veneer is a thin shell-like layer of material, porcelain, composite or ceramic, placed over the front surface of a tooth. It protects the surface from damage, like the enamel now worn with age once did, while improving the appearance of your smile. Veneers can change the color, shape, length or size of the tooth, blending it with neighboring teeth.
Porcelain veneers are strong, natural looking and last a long time. The translucent quality of porcelain closely resembles natural teeth and the finish is resistant to stains. Less tooth enamel needs to be removed to attach veneer than if restoring with a crown. Porcelain can fill in larger spaces than composite veneers, cover larger chips or irregularities and make teeth appear more aligned. They are custom made in a dental laboratory by professionals to fit your exact tooth. Your dentist will remove a small amount of enamel from the front and sides of the tooth and create a mold. You then decide, together, on the shade of veneer that best suits your smile. Blending the color with other visible teeth will make your teeth look natural. Only you and the dentist will know the tooth has been remodeled. At your next dental visit your dentist will fit and shape the veneer to perfection. Your teeth will be cleaned before the veneer is bonded into place. Since veneers are commonly used for front teeth your speech may be tested with your new surface in place. Pronouncing the words matador mama, sixty silly sisters, and thirsty thoughtful thoroughbreds will reveal possible speech issues. If changes are needed they can be made at that time. Porcelain veneers cannot be repaired, if broken they must be replaced.
Composite veneers are a quicker, less expensive option and can be constructed in your mouth by applying layers of resin and sculpting the tooth to the desired shape and color. In some cases a laboratory may be used but often this is a one day procedure. Less tooth enamel needs to be removed for composite veneers, just enough to prevent a “bulky” look to the tooth. This type of veneer can be used when small changes are needed. Discoloration, chipping or small misalignments may be corrected with composite veneers. Your dentist can offer other remedies when composite is not an option. Composite bonding veneers are less durable than porcelain and stain easier, however, they can be repaired if they get damaged, are less expensive and require less of your time.
No Prep Ceramic Veneers are an option to porcelain or when composite bonding is not advisable. The ceramic is bonded to the front of the tooth like other veneers but the dentist does not need to grind down or file the tooth for proper placement. Minimal reduction may be necessary in some cases. Ceramic veneers are long lasting and aesthetically pleasing. Discuss with your dentist if this is a choice for you.
Everyone and not every tooth is a candidate for veneers. Your tooth and gums must be healthy and free from decay. If you are a tooth grinder or jaw clencher your habit might chip or break the veneer. Wearing a dental guard at night relieves tooth pressure but it’s not a feasible option during your daytime activities. Biting hard objects, nail biting or ice chewing can chip or break veneers. Veneers can come loose over the years and may need to be replaced. It may take a few days to adjust to the feel of your veneers, be sure to let your dentist know if this continues. You can still get cavities under or around veneers so good oral care is a must. Life expectancy of veneers is between 7-15 years.
Teeth may be sensitive after applying veneers, whitening teeth or any dental procedure. A toothpaste for sensitive teeth may be advised for a few days following improvements.
Although veneers may be dubbed “instant orthodontics” your teeth may need more aligning than veneers can camouflage. Invisible braces, Invisalign, may be a solution to crooked teeth. If your teeth are discolored and you’ve used over the counter whitening agents without desired results, a professional teeth bleaching in the dentist office will jump start the whitening process. If the discolored tooth is decayed, a root canal or crown may be the remedy. Each of these options will bring back the white or perfectly aligned smile you’ve been missing.
A consult with your dentist can answer your specific questions. At White Oak Family Dentistry in Garner, NC we listen to your concerns and offer solutions. Call 919.986.0151 or schedule an appointment online and let us begin remodeling your mouth to perfection.