Welcome to the first entry in our ongoing series of patient information columns. Our goal is to educate the reader, thereby reducing any anxiety that a patient may feel from the unknown. Today, we unveil the mystery of:
All-Porcelain Dental Veneers
“Dental veneers are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve your appearance. These shells are bonded to the front of the teeth changing their color, shape, size, or length.” That definition from WebMD is quite a mouthful (pun intended). To the hardware store shopper, dental veneers are similar to wood veneers, a thin sheet glued onto a larger piece. To the nail salon customer, dental veneers are similar to artificial nails, a thin, artificial nail glued on to your real fingernail. These are crude examples, but they illustrate the way dental veneers work and are applied.
In the dental world, all-porcelain veneers are applied to hide cracked or chipped teeth or stained teeth that are resistant to bleaching. They are also used to fill gaps and spaces or to make the teeth appear larger in order to improve a less than perfect smile. At Smile Texas a Smile Makeover involves placing porcelain veneers on all the teeth that show when the patient smiles their biggest smile. For most people, this is the front ten upper teeth counting from the center of your smile. So, five teeth to the left and five teeth to the right. Many people want the ultimate smile and correct both the upper and lower teeth at the same time (20 teeth). Many others correct their top teeth to start and come back years later to have their lower teeth perfected.
Porcelain veneers can typically be completed in just two dental visits. During the first visit, your teeth are prepared to receive the custom all-porcelain veneers that will make up your beautiful new smile. This appointment is called the “Prep” appointment. You will leave that day with temporary restorations that will already give you a stunning new smile. These look great, but aren’t meant to last more than a few weeks. This gives our amazing dental lab time to fabricate the custom all-porcelain veneers that will make up your individual smile.
When your veneers are completed, we are ready for your “seat” appointment in which the dentist will permanently seat and bond your new veneers to your natural teeth. Today’s bonding techniques and materials are so good that your new all-porcelain veneers virtually become one with your natural teeth. They look, feel, and function just like natural teeth. (Note: In rush cases we can expedite the laboratory process and complete both the “prep” and “seat” appointment in just 1 week. This is especially convenient for our many out-of-town guests.)
For our guests who live in Houston, we like to have them back in about a month after their “seat” appointment for a final polish and check-up. For our out-of-town guests this is not required. One of the best things about your new smile is that all-porcelain veneers are extremely resistant to staining. That means with proper brushing and flossing there is no limit to how long your new smile can last and look fantastic!