The Beauty of Porcelain Veneers

By: Jennifer Kimberley

Dental veneers are thin customized covers put over the front surface of a tooth. The porcelain they're made of is remarkably like tooth enamel in the way it behaves with light. They are both semi-translucent. They absorb some light and reflect some, so that they have the same sort of pearly shine and a porcelain dental restoration cannot be distinguished from natural teeth.

Veneers are not placed on back teeth. They're used for front teeth as a quick way to give you a new smile. If you have any small chips on your teeth, or front teeth that are a bit crooked, or gaps between them that show when you smile, porcelain veneers could be an excellent option for you.

Chips
Large chips might need repair work for your dental health, such as a porcelain filling or crown. But a small chip can simply be covered with a porcelain veneer. Your cosmetic dentist would send information and images of the tooth to a dental lab, where a customized veneer would be shaped exactly right to give the chipped tooth a new front surface.

Crookedness
Extreme crowdedness and crookedness would indicate that all the teeth are out of alignment, which would need orthodontic treatment. Misaligned teeth can cause TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disease), which is a misaligned jaw joint. It has many painful symptoms and needs to be diagnosed and given its own treatment.

But if the crookedness is slight enough it can be covered with one or more porcelain veneers. The teeth would not have to be moved into better alignment. The shiny new porcelain front surface would replace the previous crookedness in your smile.

Gaps
In past years, if a person had gappy teeth, they wore metal braces, but we're fortunate to live in a world of more choices. If the gaps are not so large as to be throwing your bite out of alignment, they can be treated without moving the teeth. Large gaps, like extreme crowdedness, might need orthodontic work.

However, small gaps are easily and beautifully treated with porcelain veneers. The veneers are placed on teeth each side of the gap, and each veneer is slightly wider than the tooth it covers. Each one extends very slightly across the gap. This is a dramatic and fast way to transform your smile.

Discoloration
Most yellowing and staining can be removed by a tooth whitening procedure. But when a child is given tetracycline while the teeth are developing, that causes deep stains, too deep for a whitening agent to reach. Genetic factors and trauma can also cause deep stains. If you have any such discoloration and tooth whitening agents have not been effective, porcelain veneers are an excellent solution. The veneers would be custom-made to fit exactly over your teeth, replacing the front surfaces and giving you a bright, evenly white smile.

The Procedure
Two visits are needed with two or three weeks in between while the dental lab makes your veneers. In that waiting period, you can have temporary veneers, or not, as you choose.

In the first visit, your cosmetic dentist evaluates, measures, photographs and collects all the information needed for the dental lab to make your veneers. He or she also prepares the teeth surfaces for veneer attachment, by removing a very slight amount of tooth enamel. This makes room for the thin veneers.

In the second visit, the cosmetic dentist attaches the veneers temporarily, so that he can check for fit and comfort. When you are both satisfied, he will bond them permanently to the teeth. They are now part of those teeth and will not fall off. They will need the same regular brushing and flossing that you give your natural teeth.

Dental Surgery
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