Same-day Porcelain Veneers
By Andy Gassaway
Published on May 11, 2011
Whether you have recently chipped or damaged a tooth, or if you have suffered through years of self-conscious feelings related to your smile, one thing is certain: once you have decided to do something about it, you will want to reap the benefits of a revamped smile as soon as possible. Until recently, placing dental veneers demanded considerable patience on the part of the patient. First, the dentist prepares the teeth by removing a portion, about the thickness of an eggshell, from the surface of each tooth. Next, a mold is taken of the treated tooth and it is sent to a laboratory so technicians can craft the veneers. In the meantime, temporary veneers are placed on the patient's teeth, protecting them for about a week, or until the permanent veneers were finished. Finally, after the veneers are fabricated, the dentist secures the permanent veneers to the patient's teeth.
Today, advancements in 3-D computer imaging allow dentists to create custom veneers during your lunch break so you can be ready to hit the town with a beautiful new smile by the end of the day.
Dentistry with a Digital, Industrial Touch
Computer-aided drafting (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) techniques have been in practice for more than 20 years. They help engineers design everything from cars to oil wells, then make the idea a reality as a computer carries out the manufacturing process. This technology was applied to the world of dentistry as early as 1987 in products such as the CEREC®, one of the first CAD/CAM systems made specifically for use by dentists.
As with traditional veneers, this process begins with the dentist preparing the tooth by cleaning it and, if necessary, removing portions to accommodate the veneer. Next, the computer takes a digital scan of a patient's teeth, which takes about two minutes. This information is then transferred to a milling apparatus that uses a diamond cutter to craft the veneers from a single block of porcelain, which takes about 20 minutes. American dentists offering this expedited service report being able to create custom veneers and apply them to patients' teeth within one to four hours.
The Ups and Downs of Same-day Veneers
Same-day veneers hold a number of obvious advantages for cosmetic dentistry patients. First, a shorter turnaround time for permanent veneers means there's no need for multiple visits, no need for temporary veneers between visits, and no need for more than one round of anesthetics and teeth cleaning. Of course, since the process requires just one visit to the dentist, and all work is performed in-house, one can expect to pay less than they would under the traditional method.
On the other hand, this speedy, high-tech advancement has its drawbacks. There are relatively few dentists using a CAD/CAM setup to create dental prosthetics. And because the blocks of porcelain used to create the veneers come in a standard color gradient, minute color detailing is much more difficult, so same-day veneers often do not look as realistic as those produced in a lab.
Using CAD/CAM technology to create veneers and other dental prosthetics requires special training on the part of the dentist. Anyone interested in one-day veneers should take time to research their dentist's credentials to ensure that he or she is qualified to carry out the procedure.