Our teeth are open to the wear and tear of eating, daily life and even behaviors we are completely unaware of such as teeth grinding and jaw clenching. They are also the result of genetics and our own care and maintenance. Because of these many factors, our teeth can suffer damage, decay and wear that frequently require professional attention. What can someone do about crooked or uneven teeth, worn enamel or small chips and cracks? Most dentists would recommend dental veneers to their patients who would like to address a whole host of cosmetic and traditional dental issues. Dental veneers are made of strong, tooth-like materials, that have the appearance of a person’s natural teeth, but which are applied to the surface of a damaged, discolored or uneven tooth.
Most dental veneers are made from porcelain, though there are also options for them to be made of a composite resin as well. Both varieties are made in a laboratory environment or in a dental office, and all are custom made for each patient’s mouth – matched specifically to the teeth coloration of the individual patient. Patients frequently select the porcelain veneers, though they are traditionally more costly, because of their remarkable durability and aesthetic appeal. How are dental veneers applied? In order to properly fit and place veneers on the teeth of the patient, the teeth must first be properly shaped by the dentist. This means that only those with damaged or uneven teeth should consider veneers, since it would be unwise for an individual with fully functioning and aesthetically pleasing teeth to ruin their condition. (This is the reason cosmetic dentists are constantly steering clients into extensive teeth whitening, since their patients’ teeth are in good condition and merely discolored). Usually the process of dental veneer application requires the patient to make two visits to their dentist’s office over the course of a six week time span; though an overall dental health examination is made prior to the beginning of the veneer process to ensure that all of the teeth involved are in optimal condition. Each visit may take several hours as the dentist or technician finely examines each tooth that will have a veneer applied, and then prepares them for the process.
The application process requires the patient to have a local anesthetic during the preparation of the tooth and the application of the veneer. The teeth involved in the application will be reshaped to allow the veneer to fit perfectly, then a mold will be cast for the permanent veneers to be crafted from, and temporary veneers are applied – though they are not always applied to teeth that are only minimally altered. The second visit is when the permanent veneers are applied using a dental bonding material. Adjustments are quickly made by the dentist before the agent permanently seals. Though the adhesive is strong and durable, there are the occasional incidents that may require reattachment, and most veneers will need replacement after a prolonged period of use. Dentists will review the best maintenance techniques to help their patients lengthen the life of their nice new smile.