While some people have better-looking smiles than others, no one’s teeth are cosmetically perfect. There may be a gap here or there, a tooth that is misshapen, a few teeth that are discolored — any variety of flaws. At NW Heights Dental, we give our patients flawless smiles by overlaying those imperfections with porcelain veneers.
What are Dental Veneers?
Porcelain veneers are very thin, tooth-colored shells that are custom-fit and bonded to the front of the teeth. They are placed in order to create an attractively white and even smile. Placing a veneer can quickly and easily resolve color and shape related tooth problems.
Porcelain veneers are the perfect cover-up for a variety of cosmetic flaws with your teeth. Plus, they can help the patient avoid more involved procedures such as orthodontics. For instance, a gap between two teeth can be covered with veneers, rather than moving the teeth.
Veneers are the perfect cosmetic solution for these problems:
- Concealing chips
- Covering badly stained, discolored teeth
- Covering cracks or wear
- Covering misshapen or crooked teeth
- Masking alignment problems
- Closing gaps between teeth
Benefits Of Porcelain Veneers
Porcelain veneers are custom-made in a dental laboratory to look exactly like the patient’s natural teeth. They are among the best of the restorative options when it comes to replicating the look of healthy tooth enamel. They are also resistant to staining from coffee, tea, wine or other stain-causing substances. And, because veneers are so thin, light shines through them, helping them blend in naturally with the other teeth.
We Choose Porcelain
Some practices offer resin veneers, but at NW Heights Dental we use dental porcelain. We love the strength, hardness, glassiness, durability, and stain resistance offered with porcelain. Plus, porcelain has a similar translucence to natural tooth enamel, so it blends nicely with your natural teeth.
How are dental veneers made?
At NW Heights Dental, once we remove a thin amount of the enamel on the front surfaces of the teeth receiving veneers, we then take impressions of your teeth. We send these to the dental lab, which will then use these impressions to fabricate your custom veneers.
Your veneers start as porcelain powder that matches the color of your adjacent teeth (in cases where only one or two veneers are being placed) or is the color/brightness you selected (if opting to cover all your visible teeth). The porcelain powder is mixed with water and then molded into thin veneers approximating the shape of your teeth, although larger. This is because during the first firing the porcelain will shrink. This first layer is fired. This baking forces out all the water. Subsequent thin layers are then added to the veneers and fired until the correct depth and strength is created. These rough veneers are then shaped to their final dimensions to match your impressions. The veneers are then glazed, which fills porous areas on the surface and prevents wear on opposing teeth. Glazing also fully fuses all the layers. Some final polishing and your veneers are ready to be put on your teeth.
How long will my porcelain veneers last?
Porcelain veneers are very durable and you’ll love your smile for anywhere from 7-20 years. While this range seems unreasonably unspecific, the life of a veneer is dictated by the health of the tooth it is placed upon. If you keep your teeth in great shape, your veneers will last accordingly.
You do need to remember that having veneers is not a reversible process. Once we shave off a portion of your enamel, that enamel is gone for good. Your teeth will forevermore need to be covered with veneers (or a crown) to protect them. When your veneers reach their lifespan, you simply have another set placed.
The Dental Veneer Procedure
Diagnosis And Treatment Planning
This initial appointment provides the patient the opportunity to ask questions and take an active role in designing and discussing the restorative veneer process.
At the second appointment, Dr. Smith or Dr. Hiebert will lightly buff the teeth to compensate for the added thickness the veneers will create. Next, our team will take an impression of the teeth and send it to the lab. The porcelain veneers are usually ready within one to two weeks, but our patients leave this preparation appointment with beautiful smiles. Dr. Smith and Dr. Hiebert offer temporary veneers that mimic the design of the patient’s smile makeover.
At the third appointment, Dr. Smith and Dr. Hiebert will initially hold the veneers in place on the teeth with water or glycerin to determine whether they are perfect in fit and color. The color of the veneers can still be adjusted by altering the shade of the cement used to adhere to them. Once the color is finalized, dental cement is then applied between the teeth and the veneers, and a special light is used to quickly harden the cement.
Care And Maintenance Of Porcelain Veneers
Patients should care for their porcelain veneers in the same way that they care for their natural teeth. They will not be damaged by brushing and flossing, although using nonabrasive toothpaste is recommended. Veneers improve the appearance of teeth and, with proper home care and regular dental visits, will last for many years.
Are porcelain veneers painful?
Before we shave off the enamel, we can either numb the tooth/teeth or provide sedation or nitrous oxide. Many patients don’t feel the need for any of this, as such a small amount of enamel is removed. But it is available should you want it. Placing the veneers onto your teeth is painless. Some patients do have temporary increased sensitivity to hot and cold after getting their veneers, but this passes in a few days.
porcelain veneers vs. Lumineers
The concept behind porcelain veneers and Lumineers (a brand name for another option) is the same — to cover cosmetic flaws on your teeth. The difference is that to make room for the porcelain veneer, a slight amount of tooth enamel is removed.
Lumineers do not require the removal of any enamel. Because of this, Lumineers can be reversed, meaning down the road you can remove them and not replace them if you see fit. Of course, you will then also expose again the same flaws you sought to hide in the first place. Lumineers, because they don’t require the removal of any enamel, do change the patient’s smile somewhat.
So, why would anyone not opt for Lumineers? Lumineers can cause ledges at the gumline that lead to inflammation. This is because they do add size to the tooth. Lumineers are best when covering many teeth rather than simply one or two teeth. Lumineers are not a good idea if the patient grinds his or her teeth.
Dental bonding is meant to change the appearance of a single tooth or just a couple of teeth. The bonding is done with composite resin, the same material used in tooth-colored fillings. It is painted on, molded, and then cured.
There are a couple of problems with bonding versus covering the same tooth with a porcelain veneer. First, composite resin doesn’t last anywhere near as long as a veneer. Bonding lasts from 3-10 years, while veneers last 7-20 years. Second, composite resin stains with coffee, red wine, and the like. Porcelain veneers are very resistant to staining.
Schedule a Consultation
If you are looking for a cosmetic solution to your cracked, stained, or misshapen teeth, or you are interested in a complete smile makeover, call NW Heights Dental at 503.646.1463 today! Schedule a consultation with Dr. Smith or Dr. Hiebert to learn more about porcelain veneers and if they are right for you.