What Are Porcelain Veneers?
These are thin shells of dental-grade ceramic that are placed on the front of the teeth. These shells are translucent and mimic the appearance of natural enamel. They are stain-resistant and long-lasting, making them a great choice for someone looking to cover up minor cosmetic flaws and achieve a durable and beautiful new smile.
If you have structural issues with your teeth, you may need dental crowns instead. Porcelain veneers can help with very minor structural issues, but if you have significant decay or weakened teeth, a crown will probably be better. Crowns replace more of the tooth and can take more biting force.
In some cases, patients may benefit from a combination of treatments in order to achieve the best results. A customized “smile makeover” can help if you have multiple issues with your teeth that need to be addressed.
What Can Porcelain Veneers Treat?
Porcelain veneers can treat a number of cosmetic issues, including:
- Severe discoloration
- Minor crookedness
Veneers are sometimes called “instant orthodontics” because they can be placed over teeth with minor misalignment, gapping, or crowding without the need for orthodontic treatment. However, if you have moderate to severe misalignment issues, you may benefit more from orthodontic treatment such as Invisalign. Dr. Clancy will let you know your options after examining your teeth during your consultation.
They are a great solution for chips and cracks. They are longer lasting than dental bonding, which is another treatment option for minor chips and cracks. If you have a single tiny chip on one of your teeth, dental bonding may be a better option as it is less expensive and can be performed in a single sitting. However, if you have a larger chip or if multiple teeth have cosmetic concerns, porcelain veneers are usually the superior option.
Are You a Candidate for Porcelain Veneers?
The ideal candidate:
- Is in good general health
- Does not have gum disease
- Does not have TMJ
- Has healthy, relatively strong teeth
- Does not have severe decay or severely weakened teeth
- Has realistic expectations
- Is able to maintain good oral health and hygiene
If you have gum disease, this will need to be treated before having porcelain veneers placed. In addition, poor oral hygiene habits will need to be corrected. Porcelain veneers are not an instant fix for decay, and will not last if you don’t take care of them.
Neuromuscular issues such as TMJ often require more extensive treatments to correct a misaligned bite. Once your bite is corrected, though, porcelain veneers can be used to create a more aesthetically pleasing smile. If you are seeking TMJ treatment but are also interested in veneers, let Dr. Clancy know so that he can create a comprehensive functional and aesthetic treatment plan for you.
Finally, candidates need to realize that this treatment is irreversible and will require care. Veneers require the natural teeth to be shaved down a little bit so that the veneers can fit comfortably, and once the teeth are shaved there’s no turning back. Veneers can last an incredibly long time with proper maintenance, but if they are damaged or fall off, they will need to be replaced.
The Porcelain Veneers Procedure
The placement is minimally invasive and painless. During your visit, Dr. Clancy will prepare your teeth by removing a small amount of your natural enamel. Although the veneers are wafer-thin, the removal of some enamel is necessary to ensure that they fit comfortably and seamlessly into your smile.
Abrading the enamel is not painful, but we can use a local anesthetic to reduce any discomfort you may feel. We also offer the NuCalm system to help our patients relax during treatment.
Once your teeth have been prepared, we will make impressions to be used in crafting your custom veneers. Dr. Clancy will work together with you to help you decide on color and shape. Although many patients want to choose the brightest shade of white, we often counsel against this, as it can look unnatural. We’ll help you choose a shade that will look beautiful but still natural.
It takes some time to get your custom veneers back from the lab, so in the meantime, you will be fitted with temporary to protect your teeth. In general, you’ll need to wear the temporaries for around a week until we get your permanent veneers back.
During your second appointment, we’ll fit your custom veneers. You’ll be able to see how they look in your mouth, and we’ll make sure that they are comfortable. If there are any problems, or if you change your mind about the shade or shape once you see them in your mouth, we can send them back to the lab to make corrections.
If there are no problems, Dr. Clancy will cement the permanent in place, and you will leave our office with a brand-new smile.
How Long Do Porcelain Veneers Last?
Porcelain veneers can last for decades if they are taken care of properly. If you do not practice good oral hygiene, or if you use your teeth for damaging activities such as opening packages or chewing on pencils, then you will likely have to replace one or more within a few years.
Porcelain veneers can also be damaged through accidents that result in trauma to the mouth. Dr. Clancy understands that accidents happen, which is why he offers a guarantee. If your veneers are damaged or fall off through no fault of your own within the first 5 years of placement, he will replace the damaged or missing veneer for free.
Caring for Your Porcelain Veneers
Luckily, they don’t require a lot of special care. You can treat them just as you would your normal teeth. We recommend following these guidelines to make sure that your veneers last as long as possible:
- Brush twice a day
- Floss once a day
- Avoid using abrasive toothpaste
- Visit us for a deep clean and checkup twice a year
- Don’t use your teeth as tools (for instance, to open packages or bottles)
- Avoid eating sticky or hard candies
Dr. Clancy will also give you guidelines in person regarding how best to care for your veneers. Maintaining good oral hygiene is the best way to ensure both long-lasting veneers and great oral health, so it is essential to brush, floss, and keep on top of your regular dental checkups.
You should never use your teeth as tools, whether you have veneers or not. Crunching on hard candies or ice can also easily damage both natural teeth and veneers. Sticky candies such as toffee are bad for your natural teeth because they can get stuck in the crevices and cause decay, and they are bad for veneers because they can loosen the veneers and cause them to fall off over time.