No matter how stellar our smiles, no one has perfect teeth. There may be subtle differences in tooth size or alignment; a tooth may be chipped or cracked; or multiple teeth could be stained from a reaction to a drug such as tetracycline during childhood. Porcelain veneers are a beautiful way to correct these cosmetic flaws without resorting to crowns or orthodontics.
Dr. Smith and Dr. Feng place porcelain veneers, giving patients from Pound Ridge and the surrounding towns a beautiful smile in just two appointments.
What are porcelain veneers?
Porcelain veneers are thin porcelain shells placed over the front of your natural teeth to alter the tooth position, shape, size, and color. Veneers provide an aesthetic solution to various tooth imperfections. At Pound Ridge Cosmetic Dentistry, we only use porcelain for our veneers because its appearance closely resembles that of natural tooth enamel.
Who is an ideal candidate for porcelain veneers?
A patient interested in fixing one or more cosmetic dental problems is an ideal porcelain veneers candidate. In fact, most people get four or more veneers put on all at once.
The most common reasons for getting dental veneers include:
- Stained or discolored teeth
- Misshapen teeth
- Crooked teeth
- Cosmetic cracks
Other than cosmetic imperfections, a good candidate typically has good oral hygiene and no dental diseases.
How are veneers and crowns different?
Whereas porcelain veneers are strictly cosmetic improvements to your teeth, crowns are a more fundamental tooth restoration. A crown usually covers the entire tooth surface above the gumline. Crowns are used to restore function to teeth that are heavily decayed or have an extensive chip or crack. Crowns are also used as the abutment anchors for bridges that replace missing teeth. A crown can be used on an individual tooth or two to improve aesthetics, for instance if a tooth is misshapen, but it’s not really an option to cover multiple teeth as you can cover all your visible front teeth with a full set of porcelain veneers.
Porcelain veneers do not strengthen teeth or restore function; they simply cover up cosmetic issues, giving you a beautiful smile.
What aesthetic problems can porcelain veneers address?
Porcelain veneers are the ultimate restoration for:
- Revitalizing the surface of a tooth
- Concealing chips
- Covering badly stained, discolored teeth
- Closing gaps between teeth
- Masking alignment problems
- Covering cracks or wear
- Providing an alternative to orthodontic work
They are only cosmetic
It’s important to note that porcelain veneers are only a cosmetic solution and can only be applied atop healthy teeth. Issues such as decay or gum disease must be taken care of before veneers are applied. Veneers simply cover cosmetic problems.
Why use porcelain?
Some dentists use composite resin veneers, but at Pound Ridge we only use porcelain. Porcelain has high strength, hardness, glassiness, high durability, and a high resistance to staining. Also, the translucence of porcelain very closely resembles natural tooth enamel in the way it absorbs and reflects light.
How long does it take to get porcelain veneers?
Typically, porcelain veneers are installed over two appointments spread out over a week or two.
The first appointment involves consultation, cleaning and prep. After going over the procedure, your dentist will clean your teeth and use a shade guide to determine the best color for your veneers. Then she'll shave a small amount of enamel off your teeth to make room for the veneers.
Then the dentist will take impressions. Before you leave, the dentist will affix temporary veneers to your shaved teeth to protect them and the rest of your mouth. The whole appointment doesn't typically last longer than two hours.
Before your next appointment, the dentist will send your impressions off to a lab. Here, technicians craft veneers tailored to your smile and dental impressions.
Finally, you'll come back after another week or two. Before permanently affixing them to your teeth, the dentist will test your veneers for fit and color. If necessary, they can make adjustments at this time. Like the first appointment, this may take up to two hours.
Is the porcelain veneer process painful?
There's normally not a lot of pain associated with getting porcelain veneers. Due to a dentist working in your mouth for a while, you may experience temporary jaw and gum soreness, but that doesn't often last more than a day.
Pain is, however, subjective. In many cases, especially when a patient needs veneers across many teeth, dentists use local anesthetics to numb the mouth to lessen the chances of pain and discomfort.
What is recovery and aftercare like for porcelain veneers?
After getting porcelain veneers, you may notice some short-term sensitivity to hot, cold or crunchy foods. Initially, they may also cause changes to your bite and speech. Most patients adapt in no more than two weeks.
A study of over 1,000 patients found that most patients' porcelain veneers lasted 10 years without needing repair or replacement. To get that much time or more out of your investment:
- Brush and floss regularly
- Avoid staining or hard foods
- Seek help for teeth grinding
- Visit your dentist every six months
Basically, aftercare for porcelain veneers involves routine dental hygiene with a few extra considerations. Remember — even though they're durable, porcelain veneers can still crack and stain.
How do I prepare for porcelain veneers?
There isn't really any prep for patients to do before getting porcelain veneers. Just make sure you're already practicing good dental hygiene. Those habits promote a long, radiant life for your veneers.
What is the process of getting porcelain veneers with Dr. Smith or Dr. Feng?
Porcelain veneers require two appointments at our offices on Westchester Avenue in Pound Ridge. We start with a thorough cleaning. We may opt to perform some whitening if your teeth are stained from coffee and the like; this will return them to their natural color. To match that natural color, Dr. Smith/Feng uses a shade guide to determine the veneer color.
Next, we prepare your teeth for the veneers. To do this, our dentists shave a tiny amount of the enamel from the front of the teeth (from 0.3 mm to 0.5 mm). This makes room for the veneers on the front side of each tooth. When this process is complete, we take impressions of your teeth and send these off to the dental lab for the fabrication of your custom veneers. In most cases, this takes around one week. In the meantime, we attach temporary veneers to your teeth to protect them.
When your veneers arrive at our office, you return for your second appointment. We check the fit and the color match of each veneer. If necessary, we may shave a bit off here or there. Once satisfied with the fit, the porcelain veneers are permanently cemented onto your teeth, and you can show your new smile to the world.
How do I care for my veneers?
Porcelain veneers don’t require any special cleaning or maintenance at home, just regular brushing and flossing. While you can eat basically whatever you like, you may want to avoid things such as candy apples or chewing on bones, as veneers can sometimes detach.
How long can I expect my porcelain veneers to last?
A set of porcelain veneers can last anywhere from seven to 20 years. This sounds like a wide range, but it is due to the health of the underlying teeth and gums. If a veneer does come off for some reason, in most cases it can be reattached.
You do need to know that porcelain veneers are a lifetime commitment. Because the placement requires shaving the enamel off the fronts of the teeth, those teeth will forevermore need to be covered with veneers. So, once your veneers have reached their lifespan, you’ll need to have another set placed.