Dental Veneers refer to wafer-thin shells or laminates that are usually made from porcelain, but there are also some which are made from resin composites. In simple dental terms, we call them dental laminates, ceramic sheaths or porcelain sheaths. Dental veneers have a thickness of less than half a millimeter. To apply them, an equal thickness (less than half a millimeter) of enamel must be removed from the patient’s teeth. The porcelain type is translucent which almost looks like the original dental enamel, therefore it reflects the color of the original teeth. However, porcelain is brittle and relies heavily on the underlying enamel to give it strength.
Other than the need to remove a layer of enamel from the patient’s teeth, applying dental veneers is generally a safe and painless procedure. The patient may feel a bit of tooth sensitivity for a few weeks, which is caused by the trimming of enamel layer.
Dental veneers are mainly used as a cosmetic solution and that is why this procedure is normally done on a front tooth only. They won’t be of any use for the back molars which are not directly visible. In addition, they are not a great solution to missing back teeth wherein implants are the much better option.
If you compare this to direct bonding, the application of dental veneers can be quite complicated. The entire procedure involves three steps: (1) Consultation and planning with your dentist; (2) Preparing the patient’s mouth as well as the creation of dental impressions; (3) the actual application or installation of the dental veneers. The whole process normally takes around two to three visits, depending on whether a separate consultation has been made or not.
- Consultation and planning stage – This happens during the first meeting between the patient and our expert dentist. During the meeting, the patient can explain their dental issues or aesthetic desires to our dentist who will examine their oral health and determine whether or not dental veneers would suit them best. Furthermore, if there is a bite problem with the patient, it should be addressed first before proceeding with the dental veneer application. In addition, the patient will be given a comprehensive explanation regarding the different cosmetic/restorative options available to them as well as the possible expenses that may occur.
- Mouth preparation and impression creation – The next visit will focus on two important steps in the procedure:
- Preparing the patient’s mouth – This process involves removing a layer of enamel, of the same thickness of the proposed veneers (will remove more enamel for composite types, while less for porcelain), from the front surface of the patient’s teeth. In case of crooked or crowded teeth, more enamel may be removed, especially on both sides of the affected teeth. A small caution though: the gums may get bruised during the removal of enamel layer. This will cause some sensitivity and slight discomfort for the first few days and will last until the affected area has fully recovered. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t worry much because your gums will start healing almost immediately and you’ll start to feel normal just after a couple of days. Lastly, if the patient has any partially broken teeth, then that teeth should be restored first before proceeding with the dental veneer application.
- Creating impressions – After preparing the patient’s mouth, the dentist will start making the impressions. These impressions, together with the material and color preference, will be sent to the lab for manufacturing. The dental lab will prepare them according to the impressions and the dentist’s instructions. This whole process usually takes around 10 days, which will overlap with the healing of the gums. Therefore, it will be easier to fit onto the patient’s teeth.
- Application – The last step happens after the impressions are finished in the lab. This normally takes around 10 days. The patient’s teeth will be cleaned again, then polished and chemically etched to roughen the surfaces which will enhance the bonding process of the dental veneers to the tooth(or teeth). Afterwards, a transparent cement will be used to attach the veneers. If you’re using porcelain which will be applied to discolored teeth, an opaque cement will be used to stick them on. This opaque cement color will match the adjacent teeth so it would look natural once finished. Once the application is successful, the patient will be asked to close their mouth to check whether the upper teeth meet correctly and comfortably with the bottom teeth.
Dental veneers are primarily used for cosmetic purposes. There are several situations wherein they will be advised by your dentist. The decision will be made during your discussion with our expert dentist. This is after your oral examination and once you’ve agreed with the estimated cost.
Dental veneers are useful for the following cases:
- Tooth discoloration – this is common in both men and women. There are various reasons why we get tooth discoloration. Smoking, drinking alcohol, and poor oral hygiene are just some of the reasons. In addition, did you know that too much fluoride may also cause discoloration? Moreover, conditions like gastric reflux, drug usage, root canal treatment and large resin fillings may also contribute to discoloration.
- Worn-out tooth – just like any part of the body, our teeth will eventually wore out. The main reason why this happens faster than natural is primarily lack of good oral hygiene. However, there are also other reasons why this happens like having diabetes, fluoride deficiency and genetics.
- Chipped or cracked tooth – dental veneers can help fix chipped or cracked teeth.
- Gapped teeth – for patients who have gaps in their teeth, dental veneers can help tremendously. This is regardless of how small or big the gap is
- Irregularly-shaped, or misaligned teeth – since not everyone is fortunate enough to be born with a perfect set of pearly whites, dental veneers can be used to cover the problem area after proper trimming is done. This condition includes teeth with unequal width or height as well as surfaces that have depressions or bulges in the front.
This kind of dental prosthetics is a great option thanks to the following advantages:
- Dental veneers can help restore the affected tooth’s natural appearance.
- Porcelain dental veneers are easily accepted by the gum tissues. In addition, this type of veneer is able to resist stains very well.
- Dental veneers are perfect for those with stained or discolored teeth.
- Porcelain is available in different colors. Thanks to that, even dark-looking teeth can be made to look white again.
- Compared to dental crowns, dental veneers require less reshaping therefore providing a better cosmetic option.
- The procedure does not require any amount of bone loss.
- Dental veneers don’t use any metal in any step of the procedure.
Though dental veneers are generally safe and the most popular cosmetic option available, just like other dental procedures, veneers also have a couple of limitations like the following:
- To apply dental veneers, a layer of enamel must be removed from the patient’s teeth and once removed, this part can no longer be restored.
- Unlike the other kinds of cosmetic dentistry procedures available (e.g resin bonding), dental veneers are much more expensive.
- Dental veneers are not easy to fix and have limited repairability.
- Because of the removal of enamel layer, a slight tooth sensitivity may be felt during the first few weeks.
- Once installed, the color of the veneers can no longer be changed so tooth whitening must be done before the application.
- Though this rarely happens, there are cases where veneers have dislodged or even fall off. Which is exactly why dentists advise their patients to avoid eating hard foods immediately right after the procedure.
- Dental veneers must be replaced with a full crown in case there is tooth decay.
Dental veneers are not advisable for patients with teeth that are weakened by decay, active gum disease, fracture, large fillings, or in case the enamel thickness is too small. In the same way, people who normally grind or clench their teeth are also susceptible to getting their new prosthetic chipped or cracked. Overall, though dental veneers may be a good permanent option, it may not be the best choice for everyone.
Dental veneers have a lifespan of seven to fifteen years, depending on the patient’s oral hygiene. They can last even longer with proper care and good oral hygiene.
Applying dental veneers is overall a pain-free procedure. However, local anesthesia is still given during the initial preparation. If the patient is experiencing some pain after the procedure, the dentist will prescribe them with an over-the-counter pain medication. Remember, your teeth may become sensitive afterwards and remain like that for a couple of weeks. It may even hurt a bit when you eat or drink hot or cold foods.
Nevertheless, once the dental veneers have been fully applied, you don’t need to do any kind of aftercare. But, they still require maintaining good oral hygiene like brushing, flossing or rigorous rinsing. Using mouthwash regularly also helps.
When it comes to eating, you do have to watch what you eat, otherwise, you might get your veneers cracked or chipped. Unfortunately, once they break, they’re no longer repairable.
So how much does it cost to get dental veneers? While they are more expensive than other cosmetic options, they are relatively cheaper when compared with braces. Don’t worry, because our expert dentist will explain everything, including the different options available before you make your final decision.
It would be our pleasure to help you bring back your brightest smile. Come and visit us at our OC office in Costa Mesa, CA. We are only minutes away from Irvine in Orange County. For any questions or other concerns you may have, don’t hesitate to drop by or give us a call.