Porcelain veneers are a type of medical-grade ceramic shell that covers the front surface of the natural teeth. Dental veneers offer an immediate transformation for a patient’s smile. Porcelain veneers are made specifically for each patient to ensure a perfect fit. The advanced materials look very much like the natural dental enamel.
Dentists can use dental veneers for numerous cosmetic corrections, from orthodontic adjustments to teeth whitening. Due to their lifelike and natural appearance, and their multitude of uses, porcelain veneers are among the most popular and reputable cosmetic dentistry procedures.
History of Dental Veneers
In the past few decades, porcelain veneers have become immensely popular, but they originated nearly a century ago in the film industry’s infancy. Famous Hollywood dentist, Dr. Charles Pincus, devised dental veneers as an option for actresses and actors to improve for their smile on the screen. He temporarily placed false fronts to the teeth of the actors and actresses to perfect their smiles for their time on the screen. It did not take long before his temporary dental veneers to become a Hollywood staple.
At this time, being able to permanently place porcelain veneers was not possible. In the 1960s, the adhesive dentistry era began due to Dr. Michael Bunocore. He used a mild acidic solution to lightly etch the teeth. This resulted in a surface that allowed for stronger bonding for dental restorations and sealants. In 1982, R.J. Simonsen and J.R. Calamia used the techniques introduced by Dr. Bunocore for porcelain veneers. At this time, everyone was able to achieve the flawless smiles that were once only available to the Hollywood elite.
Dental Veneers Today
Dental veneers have become more convenient and lifelike than they have ever been due to the advancements in dental technology over the last 30 years. The new types of porcelain that dentists use reflect light and are stronger, making them much like natural dental enamel. The digital imaging systems that are available make it possible for dentists to create restorations the same day that are nearly identify to the patient’s natural teeth color and shape. Dentists can combine dental crowns, teeth whitening and other advanced dental treatments with porcelain veneers to provide beautiful smiles and comprehensive cosmetic results.
Porcelain Veneers Candidates
Those who are interested in porcelain veneers are usually considering them for several cosmetic or structural teeth issues, such as:
• Cracks or chips
• Minor misalignment
• Gaps between the teeth
Patients should meet the following criteria to have porcelain veneers placed:
• Have good overall oral and periodontal health
• Know what their cosmetic goals are, have realistic expectations and be able to relay their goals to their dentist
• Be able to maintain good oral hygiene and care after receiving porcelain veneers
• Have enough healthy enamel on their teeth since a thin layer is typically removed before dental veneer placement
Signs That Might Indicate That Dental Veneers Are Not Ideal
Healthy gums and teeth are imperative for those who want porcelain veneers. Those with conditions, such as gum disease, tooth decay and root canal infection are usually not ideal candidates for veneers. However, if these issues are successfully treated, the patient can usually receive porcelain veneers without issue.
People who are thinking about getting porcelain veneers should keep in mind that this procedure is generally permanent. This is due to some enamel being removed before the dental veneers are put into place. Eventually, a different restoration or veneer replacement will be necessary. Since this is a lifetime commitment, patients must be sure about this cosmetic enhancement.
Patients who regularly clench their jaw and grind their teeth might not be candidates for dental veneers. While dental porcelain is relatively durable and strong, the forces that occur with these two issues can put immense strain on porcelain veneers, resulting in them coming off completely or breaking. For many patients, however, dentists might be able to treat the teeth grinding. Once this is successfully treated, patients can typically receive dental veneers.
Determining Candidacy For Porcelain Veneers
For patients to determine if they are a candidate for dental veneers, they should meet with a cosmetic dentist. At this appointment, the dentist will evaluate the patient’s current dental health, health history and enamel condition. They can let the patient know if porcelain veneers are a viable option, or if an alternative treatment is available.
Porcelain Veneers Cost
The cost varies, but on average, porcelain veneers are several hundred dollars for every tooth. Additional factors to consider include:
• Geographic location
• Type of dental veneers
• The dentist’s level of experience
Porcelain Dental Veneers are a Worthwhile Investment
While dental veneers are often costlier compared to other cosmetic dental treatments, the consensus is that they are a worthwhile investment. They are convenient and offer lifelong results.
Dental insurance usually does not cover porcelain veneers since they are classified as a type of cosmetic procedure. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, a patient may receive help from their insurance company if the veneers can be proven to improve the patient’s life quality and health. Replacing an old porcelain veneer may also quality.
Financing Options For Porcelain Dental Veneers
There are financing options for porcelain veneers that patients can explore when their insurance will not cover them. The different finance companies typically have different repayment options. In-house repayment options may also be provided by the dental office.
How to Choose a Cosmetic Dentist For Dental Veneers
It is important for patients to receive porcelain veneers from an experienced dentist. This ensures a higher level of safety and quality.
Patients should look at the professional affiliations that the dentist has. Those who are an accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry have passed an oral and written exam. Those who an accredited fellow of this organization are the highest members. They have demonstrated excellence and strong ability in clinical practice. The dentist should also be American Dental Association Members.
It is generally recommended that patients look for a dentist that takes an artistic approach to porcelain veneers. Patients can look at photos of past patients to ensure that the dentist can provide what they want. Make sure that the results look natural and that the dentist offers the veneer type the patient prefers.
Artistic integrity and clinical excellence are imperative, but a good chairside manner is also essential. Dental veneers are highly personalized, so it is vital that the dentist is very welcoming of the patient’s opinions and input. The process of preparing for and placing the porcelain veneers should be a team effort between the patient and their dentist.
Dentists may use CEREC technology to create their own porcelain veneers, or they might employ the services or a ceramist. Top-quality fabrication is vital, so patients should ensure that the people making the veneers are highly qualified and experienced.
The Initial Consultation
Before receiving dental veneers, patients will undergo an initial consultation. During this time, the dentist will determine if the patient is a good candidate for porcelain veneers. This visit often includes discussing cosmetic goals, photographs, X-rays and dental impressions.
Prior to the patient making the final decision, they will get to see how the porcelain veneers will look once they are in place via a mock-up. This may be done via three-dimensional computer images or wax-ups, depending on the dentist. Both provide an accurate representation of what the patient can expect once their porcelain veneers are applied to their teeth.
Types of Porcelain Veneers
These dental veneers can be made from an array of ceramic, including:
• Stacked ceramic: This type can be more precisely customized.
• Pressed ceramic: This type is very strong, but also thicker than other materials.
• Lithium disilicate: This is a new type that is ideal for those with bruxism due to its intense strength.
There are multiple brands that manufacture dental veneers. Some of the most popular are:
• IPS Empress: There are 12 shades available.
• daVinci: Highly stain resistant.
• IPS e.max: Made from lithium disilicate.
Each brand has its own strengths. Patients should talk to their dentist to choose the best brand for their individual needs.
No-Prep Veneers vs. Traditional Veneers
Traditional porcelain veneers require a thin layer of enamel be removed before placement. With the no-prep type, little to no enamel needs to be removed. The no-prep type of porcelain veneers tends to have less impact on the tooth structure, and they are usually more convenient. However, these are not ideal for some patients, especially those with proportionally large teeth. They are also more transparent compared to traditional veneers.
Preparing the Teeth
Before placing traditional dental veneers, there is an important preparation process. This ensures a strong bond and a natural look. The preparation process for porcelain veneers typically includes:
• Removing enamel
• Taking dental impressions
• Placing the temporary veneers
Fabricating the Veneers
Overall, the fabrication process is mostly the same no matter the type of porcelain used. The ceramist will take the impressions and make a working model. Multiple layers of porcelain are built up using intense pressure or heat. Painting may be done to ensure a lifelike appearance. CEREC technology is used for single-visit fabrication.
The dentist will start by inspecting the porcelain veneers to ensure the right appearance, color and shape. They can be fine-tuned before placement if necessary. The placement process includes:
• Etching the teeth
• Cementing the porcelain veneers into place
Combining Other Treatments with Porcelain Veneers
When getting porcelain veneers, patients can choose to also have certain other treatments performed to enhance their smile. These might include:
• Teeth whitening
• Gum reshaping
• Restorative treatments to repair minor structural damage, such as bridges or dental implants
This involves a minimum of two cosmetic procedures to perfect a patient’s smile. When patients see their dentist during their initial consultation, they can talk about a smile makeover to determine which treatment plan is best for them.
Porcelain veneers are placed at the second appointment, so after this appointment, patients have a new smile. This may only take one day for patients who choose no-prep veneers.
There is no recovery time for porcelain veneers. However, those who choose sedation should prepare to have a ride home. Minor discomfort for about a week is possible with enamel removal. During this period of sensitivity, it is best to avoid very cold or hot foods until the sensitivity goes away.
Porcelain veneers last for approximately 10 years. However, they can experience damage just like natural teeth. Should damage occur, patients should see their dentist promptly for reattachment or repair of their dental veneers.
Caring for Porcelain Veneers
Once patients have their porcelain veneers placed, it is essential to see their dentist regularly and practice good oral hygiene. This includes flossing, brushing and rinsing the teeth at least twice a day. Good oral hygiene may extend the life of porcelain veneers up to 20 years. The following is important:
• Preventing decay: It is important to remember that cavities can still occur in the underlying tooth structure. If a cavity occurs and is repaired, a new veneer may not be supported.
• Avoiding excessive force: This could lead to chips, cracks and dental erosion, all of which can be highly detrimental to patients with porcelain veneers.
• Protecting gum health: Receding gums and gum disease can chance veneer appearance or result in the need to completely replace the restoration.
• Maintaining color: Dental veneers resist stains well, but the dental cement used with them can become stained, especially by smoking.
Porcelain veneers can correct cracks, chips and surface flaws in one treatment. They can also change tooth shape and conceal dark tetracycline stains.
Dental Veneers and Light Reflection
Since dental veneers are semi-translucent, light reflects off them like natural enamel. This ensures a completely natural look with porcelain veneers.
Other Advantages Compared to Other Procedures
Other advantages of porcelain veneers include:
• Stain resistance
• Reliable strength and durability
• A lifelike appearance
• Less expensive than dental crowns
• Increased confidence and happiness
Oral Health Benefits
There are several oral health benefits gained by those with dental veneers:
• They encourage better oral hygiene
• Most tooth structure remain intact
Porcelain veneers can serve as a type of quick orthodontic option for drastic smile improvement for minor bite and misalignment issues, such as:
• Gapped teeth repairs
• Enhancing crooked teeth
Veneers are not ideal for severe malocclusion or crooked teeth. This is because they cannot correct the tooth’s underlying structure.
Risks are considered mostly rare and minor. They may include:
• Tooth sensitivity
• Future replacement
• Dental damage
To reduce the risks associated with dental veneers, choose a highly qualified cosmetic dentist. No-prep veneers can also reduce the risk for patients who are candidates.
Temporary Side Effects
Permanent tooth sensitivity is uncommon, but temporary sensitivity is possible for up to three weeks after veneer placement. Minor dietary changes are generally sufficient to deal with this issue. Toothpaste for sensitive teeth can also help.
Alternatives to Porcelain Veneers
If the dentist determines that a patient is not an ideal candidate for porcelain veneers, there are alternatives they can discuss. These include:
• Dental crowns
• Teeth whitening
Frequently Asked Questions?
Does Veneer Placement Hurt?
No, the placement procedure is usually pain-free.
How Long Does Placement Take?
Traditional veneers typically require two visits. The time depends on the individual patient and how many veneers are placed. It usually takes up to two weeks between the dental impressions and consultation, and the veneer placement procedure. For dentists who fabricate veneers in their office, this may all be done the same day within a few hours.
Are Veneers Right for Me?
This question can be answered by scheduling a consultation with a cosmetic dentist.
Do Veneers Look Natural?
Yes, they are very lifelike and realistic. They are custom-made to ensure they match the patient’s surrounding teeth color and shape.
How Many Veneers Do I Need?
This depends on the patient’s teeth and their cosmetic goals. Their dentist will help them to make this decision.
What Happens if Only the Upper Teeth Get Veneers?
Since they are made to match the existing teeth, this is typically a fine decision. Teeth whitening can be done on the lower teeth as well to ensure a good match.
What Happens if a Veneer Falls Off or Breaks?
Patients should get the pieces of the veneer and store them safely. Make an appointment with the cosmetic dentist to determine what needs to be done for restoration.
Can Someone with Dental Decay or Gum Disease Get Veneers?
Patients should have good periodontal and dental health before getting dental veneers. These issues may not automatically disqualify patients, but the conditions have to be treated before cosmetic procedures are done.
Is One Type of Veneer Superior?
Each type of veneers has their own strengths. Patients and their dentists will work together to determine the best brand and type for them.
If you have more questions, come visit us at our state-of-the-art dental clinic at Kate Brayman DDS in Greenwich Village in NYC or call us at 212-505-0295.