Placing Porcelain Veneers
The placement process for porcelain veneers is relatively simple. Depending on your dentist, the procedure can be completed in just one or two dental appointments. The procedure can be broken down into four basic steps:
Preparing the Tooth
In order to secure a porcelain veneer to a tooth, room must first be made so that the veneer can fit flush with surrounding teeth. Additionally, the surface of the tooth must be prepared so that it provides a suitable bonding surface for dental cement. To prepare the tooth, roughly one-half millimeter of dental enamel is removed from the tooth's surface. As the veneer is roughly the thickness of an egg shell, typically this is all that's required to create sufficient space for the dental prosthetic. During this process, local anesthetic is often applied to aid in comfort.
Taking an Impression
Once the tooth has been prepared, an impression must be made. From this impression, your dental veneer will be designed and fabricated. There are two types of impressions that can be taken:
- Traditional Impression - A traditional impression involves the use of dental putty. The patient bites down into a malleable putty or clay-like material. His or her tooth structure is preserved in the putty, from which a mold can be made. Using this mold, dental laboratory technicians, working in conjunction with your dentist, can complete the fabrication of your porcelain veneer.
- Digital Impression - In some cases, a digital impression may be taken. With a digital impression, a 3D scan of the tooth structure is conducted. This data is then transferred to a computer where the resulting image can be manipulated and a veneer can be designed for fabrication.
Designing and Fabricating the Veneer
To design your veneer, your dentist will use the impression taken of your teeth to create a prosthetic that fits flush, addresses your cosmetic concerns, and complements surrounding teeth. A porcelain veneer acts as a façade to mask minor cosmetic imperfections such as cracks and chips, and as such, its cosmetic appearance is extremely important. Working with a dentist who has an extensive background in cosmetic dentistry will likely yield best results.
When it comes time to fabricate the dental prosthetic, there are two options that can be employed. In many cases, dentists offer one or the other, not both. If you have a preference, it is best to speak with a dentist prior to your initial appointment to see which option he or she offers. Those options are as follows:
- Traditional Fabrication - In most cases, porcelain veneers (and other dental prosthetics) are fabricated in a dental laboratory. Some dentists operate their own dental laboratory while others refer the fabrication of their patients' prosthetics out to third-party dental laboratories. As these laboratories specialize in the fabrication of dental prosthetics, the quality of the work can be expected to be of the highest standard. However, it should be noted that in most cases, anywhere from two to three weeks may be required for your dental prosthetic to be completed. During this time, your dentist will likely apply a temporary placeholder in the place of your permanent prosthetic.
- In-office Chairside Fabrication - With the use of a CEREC (Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics) machine, porcelain veneers can also be fabricated in-office while you wait. A CEREC machine incorporates three basic elements: a digital scanner, custom imaging and design software, and a computer-guided mill. Once the prosthetic has been designed on computer by your dentist, it is milled directly from a solid block of ceramic. This process can be completed in less than an hour, allowing you to leave with your permanent restoration on the same day of treatment. Some dentists believe that prosthetics fabricated in a laboratory are of a higher quality, however. Speak with a dentist in your area to determine which option is right for you.
Placing the Veneer
Once the tooth has been prepared, impressions have been taken, and your porcelain veneer has been designed and fabricated, it's time for it to be placed on the affected tooth. The veneer will be bonded directly to the tooth with dental cement. Any adjustments will be made as necessary so that the veneer fits flush with surrounding teeth and is aligned and set properly. Excess dental cement will be removed and your veneer will be secure. Whether you have received one veneer or several, you can leave the dentist's office with a beautiful new s