Dental veneers are a a great option for correcting, brightening, and harmonizing your smile. They are a conservative treatment choice and truly produce dramatic effects. We often find patients not knowing exactly what veneers are, or if they are the best treatment option for them. Dental veneers are thin, porcelain (ceramic), or composite shells that are bonded to the front of teeth. The procedure is minimally invasive in that only approximately .5 mm of structure from the front and bottom edge of the tooth requires removal. For comparison, crowns require the removal of 1.5 mm to 2 mm circumferentially. Veneers can correct spacing, misshapen teeth, and discoloration of the teeth.
Generally, veneers should last for many years, if done with proper technique and considerations. One of the important factors to note is the bite, or how the teeth come together. A deep bite or, alternatively, an edge-to-edge bite, should be addressed before the placement of the veneers. Correcting the bite and ensuring the teeth meet appropriately is the first step in providing longevity in the treatment. If the patient does not desire bite correction through orthodontics, like Invisalign, the better option may be full coverage crowns. Patient habits are also important to consider. Veneers may not be a great option if the patient shows signs of severe bruxism or heavy grinding. Grinding can lead to fractures or dislodgement of the porcelain down the line. In cases of mild bruxism, we recommend a night guard to help protect the restorations.
The entire procedure of dental veneers happens in three stages. These stages are: diagnosis and treatment planning, preparation, and cementation.
Diagnosis and Treatment Planning
It is crucial that patients take an active role in the smile design. This step is where time is spent with the practitioner in order to effectively communicate what is desired out of the procedure. It’s the dentist’s responsibility to ensure his/her patients understand the corrective limitations of the procedure, and the projected outcome. More than one consultation may be beneficial in order for both the dentist and the patient to feel comfortable understanding the objectives of treatment. This stage of treatment should also include a wax-up, which is a model of what the final outcome will look like. A physical wax model allows the patient to see exactly what his or her teeth will look like after placement of veneers. The wax-up is critical in delivering the exact results the patient desires.
The dentist removes approximately .5 mm of structure from the teeth, depending on the treatment requirements. After the preparation of the teeth, the dentist creates a temporary replica of the veneers, based off of the wax model the patient approved. If time permits, it is best for the patient to wear the temporaries for a period of time to decide if the shape and feel is truly what they desire. Once the patient approves of the veneers, the dentist submits the case for the lab to produce the permanent porcelain restorations.
When the ceramic veneers are ready, the dentist removes the temporaries, and places each veneer on the teeth to check their fit and get a sense of the shade or color. It is crucial for the patient to pay particular attention to the color and feel while the veneers are resting on their teeth. There is no alteration of color possible after veneers are cemented. With final approval from the patient, the dentist then applies the veneer by cleansing the tooth with specific chemicals to achieve a bond. A special light beam hardens the cement.
Alternatively to porcelain, patients can opt for composite veneers. This process is quite similar to dental bonding in that it uses the same material. This procedure does not require lab work, so the dentist can perform it chair-side in its entirety. While composite veneers are strong, they are not as durable as their porcelain counterparts.
At Artisan Dental, Dr. Ghannam and Dr. Annoni take the time to ensure their patients truly understand all aspects of their treatment options. Patient education is a central component of our practice. Learn more about porcelain or composite veneers. .