What Are Dental Veneers?

One of the hottest topics discussed in dentistry today is the use of Dental Veneers in the restoration of an individuals smile.  Interestingly enough, veneers have come full circle in technology and aesthetic ability over the last 30 years and it seems that with Hollywood and the media’s ability to hype a product they are here to stay and hopefully continue to improve smiles everywhere!  Here at Rigby Advanced Dental we often hear the questions, “What are dental veneers?”, “How long do they last?”, “Can I get them?” and “How much do they cost?”.  To better inform our dental friends about veneers we will address these questions and more in this post.

Dental veneers (sometimes called porcelain veneers or porcelain laminates) are very thin, custom-made covers of tooth-colored materials designed to mask the front surface of teeth to improve their appearance.  These coverings are bonded to the front of the teeth often changing their color, shape, size, and length.  Individuals often elect to have these restorations done to address aesthetic concerns and to customize their smile in a minimally invasive way.

Dental veneers can be made from Porcelain or from Resin Composite dental materials.  Porcelain veneers resist stains better than resin veneers and better mimic the light reflecting properties of natural teeth.  Resin veneers are thinner and require removal of less of the tooth surface before placement, but they are more prone to staining over time and on average do not last as long as the porcelain veneers.  Dr. Brent Rigby can discuss which choice of veneering material is best for you at your appointment.

When are Veneers Indicated and What Problems Do They Address?

Veneers are routinely used to fix teeth that are discolored, worn down, chipped, broken, misaligned, uneven, irregularly shaped, or to close spaces (gaps) between them.  The indications for when dental veneers are appropriate is a very controversial and debated topic in the dental field today.  At the center of the argument is the ethical debate of whether or not the veneering procedure is harmful to their patients and if cosmetic concerns should dictate the procedures performed by dentists and specialists alike.

Here at Rigby Advanced Dental, Dr. Rigby firmly believes and upholds the American College of Prosthodontists stand that each and every case is unique and that these types of decisions are best made on an individual basis, after everyone involved has been informed of the pros and cons of restoration.  Veneers are a wonderful thing for our patients and can help improve overall aesthetics, but not everyone is an ideal candidate for them.

What is the Procedure for Getting a Dental Veneer?

Getting a dental veneer usually requires three trips to the dentist……one for a consultation and two to make and deliver the veneers. One tooth or many teeth can simultaneously undergo the veneering process described below.

  • Appointment #1 — Diagnosis and Treatment Planning
    • This first step involves active participation between the patient and Dr. Rigby.  The purpose of this visit is for the patient to explain what they are attempting to achieve and their expectations with dental treatment.
    • During this appointment Dr. Rigby performs a clinical examination to make sure dental veneers are appropriate and discusses what the procedure will involve and its limitations. Dr. Rigby will then gather some diagnostic information about your mouth by taking X-rays (radiographs) and making impressions of your mouth and teeth.
  • Appointment #2 — Tooth Preparation
    • A local anesthetic will be applied and time allowed for it to take affect.  Dr. Rigby will then prepare the teeth for veneers by removing approximately ½ millimeter of enamel from the tooth surface, which is nearly equal to the thickness of the veneer to be added to the tooth surface.
    • Dr. Rigby will then make a final impression of your prepared teeth and this model is sent to a dental laboratory, which in turn fabricates the veneers.  On average it takes 1 to 2 weeks for the veneers to be completed and ready for final delivery to the patient.  While the veneers are being fabricated Dr. Rigby can make custom temporary dental veneers and place them on the teeth until the permanent ones are completed.
  • Appointment #3 — Veneer Placement and Bonding
    • Before the dental veneer is permanently cemented to your tooth, Dr. Rigby will evaluate them on the teeth for fit, contour and color.  He will then remove and trim the veneers as needed to achieve the proper fit and contour.  A permanent cement shade will be selected for a final custom touch and the teeth will be prepared for bonding.
    • To prepare your tooth to receive the veneer, the teeth will be cleaned, polished, and etched which roughens the tooth to allow for a strong bond between the teeth and veneers.  A special cement is applied to the veneer and the veneer is then placed on your tooth.
    • Once properly position on the tooth, Dr. Rigby will apply a special light to the dental veneer, which activates the bonding chemicals in the cement.
    • The final steps involve removing any excess cement, evaluating the bite and making any final adjustments to the veneer as necessary.  Dr. Rigby may ask you to return for a follow-up visit in a couple of weeks to check the how the gums (gingiva) are responding to the presence of the veneers and to again examine their placement on the teeth.

What Are the Advantages of Dental Veneers?

  • Patients ability to customize their smile to meet their expectations.
  • They provide a natural tooth translucency and appearance.
  • Porcelain veneers are stain and plaque resistant.
  • Gum tissue tolerates porcelain well.
  • The color of a porcelain veneer can mask an underlying cosmetic concern…….making dark or stained teeth appear whiter, brighter and more appealing.
  • Veneers offer a conservative approach to changing a tooth’s shape, contour and color.

What Are the Limitations and Disadvantages of Dental Veneers?

  • The process is not truly reversible as some will claim.
  • Porcelain veneers are more costly than composite resin bonding.
  • Veneers are usually not repairable should they chip or crack.
  • Your teeth may become more sensitive to hot and cold foods and beverages.
  • Avoid eating and drinking substances that are highly staining……like red wine and grape juice.
  • Veneers may not exactly match the color of your other natural teeth not restored.
  • The veneer’s color cannot be altered once in place…….if you plan on whitening your teeth, you need to consider doing this beforehand.  Dr. Rigby follows a strict protocol to avoid any guessing or surprises in shade when delivering a final prosthetic restoration.
  • Veneers are not indestructible and can be dislodged or debonded with improper care.  Avoid activities like biting your nails, chewing on pencils, ice, or other hard objects.  Avoid putting excessive pressure on your teeth whenever possible.
  • Teeth with veneers can still experience dental decay and cavity formation.
  • Veneers are not a good choice for individuals with unhealthy teeth, weakened teeth, or for those who have an inadequate amount of existing enamel on the tooth surface.
  • Individuals who clench and grind their teeth are poor candidates for porcelain veneers, as these activities can cause the veneers to crack, chip, or debond.

This question is relative to what dental material is used for the final restoration, as mentioned earlier, either Composite Resin or Porcelain can be used.  On average, Porcelain Veneers last between 5 to 10 years……with some lasting longer and others shorter, depending on personal hygiene and routine dental care. Composite Resin Veneers have an average life span of 3-5 years……often requiring replacement sooner than the dental porcelain alternative.  The most common reasons for repair or replacement of veneers is recurrent dental decay, staining around the margins of the existing restorations, gingival recession, and accidental damage.

Do Dental Veneers Require Special Care?

Here at Rigby Advanced Dental we will say ABSOLUTELY YES!  Especially when it comes to your at home use and dental hygiene visits.  Veneers should only be cleaned with specific dental abrasives to ensure their long term luster and brilliance.  One thing to always keep in mind is veneers are dental restorations and by nature are not impervious to damage just like your natural teeth.  Special care should be taken to avoid chewing hard foods and drinking substances that are stain-causing (coffee, tea, red wine, or grape juice).  Please continue to follow good oral hygiene practices including brushing and flossing as you normally would.

What Are the Alternatives to Dental Veneers?

Alternatives to veneers include resin bonding (composite) and crowns.  Veneers offer a nice intermediate option that is a minimally invasive procedure.  Veneers may be best suited for individuals who want to change the shape of their teeth more than just a little bit……as is done with bonding……but not enough to require a crown.If you have an questions or are considering dental veneers please do not hesitate to call (512) 992-2822 or stop by Rigby Advanced Dental to schedule a FREE prosthodontic consultation.