Porcelain Veneers Benefits
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When it comes to your smile, a minor cosmetic imperfection can have a major impact on your appearance and your confidence. Porcelain veneers offer a fast and effective way to conceal these imperfections, enhance the look of your smile, and boost your self-esteem. Veneers are thin, all-ceramic shells that are bonded to the front surface of a tooth to create a beautiful, yet natural-looking smile in as few as two visits. They can conceal chips, cracks, stains, wide spacing, minor misalignment, and more. Each veneer is custom-made in a dental laboratory to match your natural teeth.
I have placed a lot of veneers since 1997. In those days, we had limited choices in materials and techniques. Today, veneers can be made stronger and more realistic-looking than ever before. Though the concept of concealing imperfections with a veneer is simple, there are many subtle details that must be analyzed during the planning process in order to achieve a natural-looking enhancement that effectively complements your features. When your treatment is coordinated by a reputable and experienced dentist, you can expect many benefits that can transform not only your smile, but your entire appearance.
Benefits of Porcelain Veneers: The Basics
Dental porcelain can be crafted to look indistinguishable from natural teeth. It is also very strong, and with proper care, you can expect your veneer to last many years. Veneers can last significantly longer than alternatives such as dental bonding. Studies have shown that certain types of veneers have a 92.4 percent success rate at 5 years, while others can last up to 15 years with proper care. Once in place, your veneers can provide life-changing benefits:
Symmetry: Porcelain veneers can correct the appearance of an asymmetrical smile. When you look at your teeth in the mirror, does the left side of your smile look different from the right? A perfectly healthy smile can look damaged, worn, or underdeveloped when aesthetic issues disrupt symmetry. Achieving symmetry with porcelain veneers requires analysis of the smile line, or the curvature of the top teeth in relation to that of the bottom lip when you smile. Your dentist will craft your veneers to refine the curvature of your top teeth and achieve a proper smile line. In some cases, a patient may not have a symmetrical lip, and depending on his or her goals, an injectable dermal filler may be a good complement to veneers.
Along with the smile line, a skilled dentist will also analyze the positions of your teeth in relation to one another. For example, the cuspids, or canine teeth, should be in alignment with your centrals, or two front teeth. The smaller teeth in between the centrals and cuspids should be a little shorter. A dentist should also consider the overall shape of the patient's face. If, for instance, the patient has a thin face, wider veneers can prevent an elongated facial appearance. On the other hand, a dentist may recommend longer veneers to a patient with a round face, which can produce a thinning effect. As a general rule, the longer and whiter the teeth, the more youthful the smile.
A Healthy Appearance: Veneers are designed to help your smile look bright, symmetrical, and properly aligned. Once your treatment is complete, these characteristics can make your smile look natural and healthy, which can in turn make you look younger. When it comes to your teeth, form doesn't always necessarily follow function. For example, stained teeth can actually be quite healthy, and a small chip or slight misalignment won't necessarily compromise the health of your smile. Veneers complement the healthy characteristics of your smile with the outward characteristics that we associate with excellent oral health.
A Natural-looking Enhancement: Each porcelain veneer is milled from a shaded block of porcelain selected to closely match the color of your natural teeth. Higher quality veneers are further customized after they are milled by a master ceramist in the dental laboratory, and can be hand-painted to create a more natural look. Natural teeth have a gradient of color that is darker near the gum line and lighter near the bite surface, and veneers can be crafted to match this complex coloration.
A Single Treatment That Can Address Several Issues
Porcelain veneers are a unique cosmetic dentistry treatment because they can address several cosmetic imperfections at once. Because they cover the entire front surface of your natural teeth, veneers can conceal:
- Stains - Dental stains can occur for a variety of reasons, like taking certain medications, eating foods like berries and wine, and smoking. These stains occur on the outer surface of teeth, and can usually be eliminated with teeth whitening treatments. However, intrinsic stains (stains that occur on the inside surface of teeth) don't typically respond to teeth whitening. They commonly occur following a root canal. Porcelain veneers, though translucent, can completely mask these stains to give your smile a healthy-looking color.
- Chips - Teeth can become chipped for a number of reasons. If a substantial portion of your tooth is chipped off, you may require restorative treatment. Minor chipping, however, is easily covered with veneers.
- Cracks - Substantial dental cracks can compromise the health of your entire smile, and require restorative treatment. Small cracks do not necessarily compromise the structure or health of your tooth, but can take a toll on the appearance of your smile. Minor cracks can be easily concealed with porcelain veneers.
- Misalignment - While veneers cannot straighten your teeth, they can create the appearance of a straighter smile. By adjusting the width and shape of your veneer, your dentist can make crooked teeth look straight. Many of my veneer patients have undergone orthodontic treatment in their youth, but experienced some shifting later in life. Veneers can create the appearance of a properly aligned smile without the need for lengthy orthodontic treatment.
It should be noted that in the pursuit of a natural-looking enhancement, it can be very important to avoid making a smile look perfectly aligned. The fact is that there is no such thing as a perfectly aligned smile, and such a thing just would not look natural. A dentist with advanced skill can create a look of slightly less-than-perfect alignment. These small touches can make all the difference between a smile that looks naturally dazzling and charismatic, and a smile that looks like it was designed in a lab.
- Worn-down Teeth - Teeth can become worn down from grinding and chewing over the years. If this erosion is not compromising the health of your teeth, veneers can restore a healthy appearance.
The Unique Aesthetic Attributes of Dental Porcelain
Expertly crafted porcelain provides the aesthetics and durability needed to provide a long-lasting aesthetic dental enhancement, and it can be customized to look indistinguishable from natural teeth. Modern dentistry has made great strides in creating natural-looking enhancements with dental porcelain:
- Translucency - The more translucency, the younger the smile looks. The outer structure of your teeth consists of dentin covered by a layer of translucent enamel, through which light can pass. This results in a very distinct effect when light hits a natural tooth. Porcelain can be crafted to achieve the same degree of translucency, making veneers virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth.
- Stain Resistance - Porcelain is a non-porous material, unlike natural enamel. As a result, porcelain is actually more stain resistant than your natural teeth. With proper care, your veneers can retain their original color for many years. However, this means that you should take care to avoid staining any surrounding natural teeth and disrupting aesthetic consistency. Ongoing teeth whitening can help patients experience the greatest aesthetic benefits of porcelain veneers.
- Chip Resistance - Dental porcelain, once bonded to the tooth, is resistant to breakage, chipping, and fracturing. In fact, your veneers can last up to 10 years or longer with proper care. Studies have shown 53 percent or more of veneers lasting a decade without further procedures. You can also maximize the life of your veneers by practicing proper dental hygiene, undergoing exams twice a year, and avoiding habits such as chewing pen caps, fingernails, and ice chips. It is also important to wear a night guard if you grind at night because bruxism, or grinding of teeth, has accounted for 68 percent of instances where veneers have needed repair or replacement. You will also need a properly fitted sports guard if you participate in active sports. Overall, veneers may need to be repaired around 10 years, however, more than 90 percent do not need to be replaced.
- Precise, Natural-looking Coloration - Most of my patients tell me they want whiter teeth, but not unnaturally white teeth. In order to achieve the most natural-looking coloration, veneers must consist of three to four carefully blended colors. This shading is darkest at the gumline, and becomes lighter near the chewing surface. This effect can be further enhanced by using a bluish tint at the biting surface that fades toward the gum line.
Making the Most of Your Veneers
To enjoy the best possible aesthetic benefits of porcelain veneers, it is important to select a dentist with experience, technical precision, and artistic vision.
Dr. John F. Weston, owner and director of Scripps Center for Dental Care in San Diego, and an examiner for the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, recommends taking a close look at a prospective dentist's credentials.
If you can find a member of an organization like the AACD, or even an examiner, it's very beneficial toward your end results
"I tell patients to look at cases the doctor has performed, as experience matters in the end quality of the veneers," Dr. Weston said. "Nothing substitutes the type of experience that comes with performing a lot of cases. If you can find a member of an organization like the AACD, or even an examiner, it's very beneficial toward your end results."
Dr. Weston also advises that patients ask their dentist about the extent of tooth alteration that treatment will involve. Before placing traditional veneers, your dentist will remove a small amount of enamel from your teeth, allowing the veneers to lay in a natural-looking position among your natural teeth. Thanks to advancements in materials and techniques, thin veneers can be very durable and look extremely realistic, so the amount of enamel removal necessary to achieve a proper fit has decreased significantly. Fifteen years ago, the best solution for concealing a cosmetic dental imperfection was a crown, which requires substantial alteration of the tooth. Today, adequate preparation often involves removing as little as 0.3 millimeters of enamel.
"If your dentist is doing a lot of grinding, they're not really participating in what's considered the standard of care for porcelain veneers today," Dr. Weston said.
There are also specially branded types of prepless or minimal-prep veneers, such as LUMINEERS®. These veneers are extremely thin. In some cases, these veneers can help patients achieve great results. However, these veneers may look bulky or unnatural in other instances. An experienced dentist will be able to determine which kind of veneer will provide you with the best aesthetic result.
Defining and Budgeting for Your Goals
Like other cosmetic dentistry treatments, you should consider your porcelain veneers an investment in your appearance and, more importantly, your self-esteem. To achieve the best possible benefits from your veneers, you should ask your dentist many questions about the materials he or she uses, and ask what they can do to help you achieve the smile you envision. If you have a friend, loved one, or acquaintance who has undergone the procedure, and you feel they were able to achieve beautiful results, get in touch with that person's dentist. Meanwhile, be prepared to pay the price for outstanding work.
You must remember that if you truly wish to achieve beautiful, long-lasting results, now is not the time to go bargain hunting. If your dentist demonstrates an ability to give you exactly the smile you desire, find a way to place the price of that dentist's services within your budget. The fact is that you cannot place a price on the satisfaction you can achieve with a beautiful, yet natural-looking smile. Meanwhile, revision treatments down the road can actually cost you more than an outstanding initial treatment. By making the necessary arrangements to receive precisely the enhancement you want, you can spend your time enjoying a wonderful new smile instead of worrying about how to fix disappointing results. Would you go to the cheapest heart surgeon to have your open heart surgery performed?
"I Am Absolutely Thrilled."
One of my patients, Seanna Collins, has been dissatisfied with the look of her smile since she received two dental crowns at age 15. Over the years, Seanna had her crowns replaced, but found that they did not provide a good aesthetic complement because they were made at different times and from different materials. Seanna makes her living as an on-camera television host, event MC, and spokesperson, so it is especially important for her to not only look great, but also exude confidence and charisma.
I worked with Seanna to create a smile makeover plan that involved replacing her crowns, and matching them with porcelain veneers placed across her anterior teeth on her upper arch. We took X-rays and impressions of her natural teeth to ensure a proper fit, but also spent a substantial amount of time discussing the shade, shape, and size of veneers needed to meet her goals.
When Dr. Podilsky applied my veneers, it was the first time ever that all of my teeth actually matched
"My veneers are absolutely amazing," Seanna said. "I wish veneers had existed 35 years ago when I received my crowns. Technology has changed so much since I first got them, and porcelain has improved greatly. When Dr. Podilsky applied my veneers, it was the first time ever that all of my teeth actually matched."
Seanna received 10 porcelain veneers in total on her upper arch four years ago. Both in her work and in her personal life, she has felt more confident in her smile.
"I was going through a lot of turmoil for a lot of years with my teeth not matching," Seanna said. "Receiving porcelain veneers was definitely an investment, but I am absolutely thrilled with them."
Like Seanna, many of my patients have undergone several types of cosmetic and restorative treatments in the past, but were unsuccessful in achieving the natural look they wanted. Once these patients receive porcelain veneers, they can feel satisfied knowing this treatment is long-lasting, and makes them look like they were born with an incredible smile.
Veneers Can Make the Smile of Your Dreams a Reality
If you feel self-conscious about aesthetic imperfections in your smile, there has never been a better time to explore how porcelain veneers can make your smile look amazing and help you feel more confident. Find a few promising dentists in your area, and meet with each of them to determine who places an equal emphasis on science and art. A dentist who works with an excellent dental lab, demonstrates an advanced understanding of how your smile can complement your entire appearance, and truly listens to your goals and concerns can help you achieve life-changing results with porcelain veneers.
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