What makes a smile beautiful? That's a complex question, but some qualities of a lovely smile are obvious: good tooth color, shape, and alignment are a few of the most important ones.
If your teeth could use improvement in any of these categories, porcelain veneers could be just what you're looking for, and our team at Laurel Dental Group can help.
What Are Veneers?
You may already know that a veneer is a thin covering over another surface. In dentistry, a veneer is a wafer-thin layer of super-strong porcelain that substitutes for natural tooth enamel.
When bonded to your teeth, veneers create a natural-looking, beautiful new surface. Dental porcelain, like natural tooth enamel, is translucent and tough but doesn't stain the same way as tooth enamel.
Thanks to advances in dental porcelain technology, modern veneers are so thin that they can sometimes be bonded directly onto your existing tooth surface.
In other cases, we must remove a thin layer of tooth enamel to fit the new porcelain surface and make it look as lifelike as possible. Either way, the results are sure to make you smile.
The Versatility of Porcelain Veneers
Veneers can improve any of the following characteristics of your teeth:
- Color: Teeth can become stained by the foods and drinks we like, from smoking, and even normal aging. Veneers are available in numerous shades, from the most natural to the brightest Hollywood white.
- Size & Shape: Teeth can wear down from grinding habits or may not have the shape or size you want. Veneers can be shaped and sized in whichever way is most flattering to your face.
- Alignment & Spacing: Veneers can close small gaps between teeth or make slight corrections in alignment while improving tooth color and shape.
Limitations of Porcelain Veneers
There are some situations in which veneers would be inappropriate. For example, orthodontics might be a better solution if you have significantly misaligned teeth or a large gap.
If you've lost a lot of tooth structure from decay, trauma, or a particularly severe grinding habit, restoring your teeth with porcelain crowns that cover the entire tooth might be better.
Creating a New Smile with Veneers
The first step in creating a new smile with porcelain veneers is to communicate what you don't like about your smile as it is now.
Bringing pictures of smiles you like as a starting point for discussion is a great idea. You can see how veneers would look on your teeth by:
- Create a model of your teeth and place wax "veneers" over them, or
- Placing acrylic or tooth-colored filling material directly onto your teeth.
Once we've created a plan just for you, we'll prepare your teeth by removing a small amount of enamel, if necessary. Next, we'll take molds of your teeth, and a skilled dental laboratory will use them to create your veneers.
You'll get a temporary set of veneers to wear during the few weeks it will take to create your permanent veneers. When your new veneers come back from the lab, your dentist will cement them onto your teeth.
Caring for Your Veneers
Just like your natural teeth, those restored with veneers need gentle brushing and flossing every day to remove dental plaque and ensure good gum tissue health around the veneers. Regular checkups at our Laurel dental office are just as important to oral and general health.
Keep in mind that while veneers are tough, they may not be able to withstand forces that come from using your teeth as tools (to open packages, for example) or biting into hard foods like candy apples—things that aren't good for your natural teeth, either!
If you grind or clench your teeth at night, you could benefit from a custom-made nightguard to protect your veneers and your smile investment. Dr. Thames will be happy to recommend a guard that's perfect for you.