Have you ever caught yourself staring at the perfect smiles seen on TV, in the movies, and in magazines… the smiles of Hollywood actors and actresses, and models? Have you ever wondered, “How did they get that perfect, white smile?
Odds are, those celebrities were not born with pearly white smiles. These smiles were likely designed and created just for them with the help of a cosmetic dentist. The good news? Anyone can enjoy the perfect Hollywood smile, with the assistance of a cosmetic dentist and porcelain veneers.
Porcelain veneers (also referred to as porcelain laminates) are super thin, custom fabricated shells of tooth colored porcelain designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve your smile’s overall aesthetic appearance.
These shells are adhesively bonded to the front of the teeth changing their color, shape, width, and/or length. Versatile and very strong, porcelain veneers are used in a variety of ways to transform your smile, from complete smile makeovers to repairing a chipped tooth.
Porcelain veneers are custom made from a high quality dental porcelain that has similar light reflecting properties as our natural teeth. Porcelain veneers are excellent at resisting stains and they mimic our natural teeth’s light reflecting properties. They are the cosmetic dentist’s greatest tool for elevating a normal smile to a Hollywood smile.
Porcelain Veneers are regularly used to fix the following issues:
- Teeth that are stained or discolored. Teeth can become stained or discolored from root canal treatment, from tetracycline or other drugs, excessive fluoride, or the presence of large resin fillings that have discolored over time.
- Teeth that are worn down from use or grinding of teeth.
- Teeth that are broken or chipped.
- Teeth that are misaligned, uneven, or irregularly shaped. Porcelain veneers are sometimes referred to as “Instant Orthodontics”.
- Teeth with gaps or spaces between them. Porcelain Veneers are able to cosmetically close those spaces.
Making the decision to have porcelain veneers is the first step. The entire process usually takes 3-4 visits, one for a consultation and two to make and apply the porcelain veneers. There is sometimes an added appointment following the consultation where the dentist will show the patient a mock up model.
This model will be of your teeth where the dentist has waxed onto those teeth what the porcelain veneers will look like on your smile. It is a great visual reference for you to decide the course of treatment for you. This can also be done via software on a computer. One tooth or many teeth can simultaneously undergo the treatment described in the following paragraphs.
Consultation/Diagnosis and Porcelain Veneers Treatment Planning.
This first step involves your active input. Explain to your dentist what you want in the final result. During this appointment, your cosmetic dentist will examine your teeth to make sure porcelain veneers are appropriate for you and explain to you what the procedure involves and some of its drawbacks.
They may take X-rays and possibly make impressions of your teeth as study models. These models will be used by the dentist to do a mock up of the final result. The dentist will prepare the teeth on the model and sculpt wax over them to give you a visual representation of the final product. This is an important step.
Preparing the Teeth for Porcelain Veneers.
A dentist must remove about 1/2 millimeter of enamel from the tooth surface, which is an amount nearly equal to the thickness of the porcelain veneers to be added back to the tooth. Before beginning, you and your dentist will decide the need for a local anesthetic to numb the area.
Next, your dentist will take an impression of your teeth. This model is sent out to a dental laboratory, which in turn constructs your custom porcelain veneer. It takes about 1-2 weeks for the laboratory technicians to complete the process. Temporary veneers are placed using a resin material until the final veneers are ready.
Before the porcelain veneers are permanently bonded to your tooth, the dentist will check for fit and color by temporarily placing it on the tooth. If they fit properly and the color shade is correct the dentist will go on to prepare your tooth, your tooth will be cleaned, polished, and etched (this is a process whereby your tooth surface is roughened up chemically at the microscopic level).
A special adhesive is applied to the porcelain veneers and the veneer or veneers are methodically placed on your tooth. When the they are in the right position, your dentist will apply a special light to the porcelain veneers. This activates chemicals in the adhesive, causing it to cure.
The final steps involve removing any excess adhesive, evaluating your bite and making any final adjustments in the porcelain veneers as needed. Your dentist may ask you to return for a follow-up visit in a couple of weeks. This is to ensure you are happy with the final result as well as checking the gum tissue surrounding the new porcelain veneers.
There are some disadvantages to porcelain veneers:
- The procedure is not reversible.
- Porcelain Veneers are not repairable. If they break, a new one will need to be custom fabricated in the laboratory.
- The color cannot be changed once the porcelain veneers are in place. So both dentist and patient must be sure they are happy with color prior to final placement of the porcelain veneers. It does happen on occasion that the color is not what is desired from the laboratory and they are sent back to be remade. It is of the utmost importance for the patient to be ahppy and satisfied with the final result.
- Porcelain veneers can fall off or chip. The material is very strong but patients who grind their teeth, bite their nails or chew on pencils will be more susceptible to this occurring.
- The teeth under the porcelain veneers are still susceptible to tooth decay. Patients need to be made aware of maintaining proper oral hygiene.
Porcelain veneers can be brushed, and flossed just like your own teeth. You should not even know they are in your mouth as they are bonded to your natural tooth sstructure.
Imagine. In just a few short visits, you can have an amazing Hollywood smile… a smile that has been custom designed just for you. A smile that is straighter and whiter than you could have imagined. You’ll be looking younger and feeling more confident. And it’s all possible with your cosmetic dentist and porcelain veneers.
By Marielaina Perrone