Veneers are ultra-thin sculpted pieces of tooth-shaped porcelain that fit over the front of your teeth. They are wonderful for fixing teeth that are significantly discolored, chipped, pitted, malformed, or crooked, or if you have unwanted spaces. In certain situations, a change in upper lip fullness and balance can be obtained by placing porcelain laminate veneers on your four front teeth. While they’re not suitable for every patient, veneers are the most aesthetic alternative for a variety of dental conditions involving the front teeth, including:
- Diastemas (spaces between teeth)
- Broken or chipped teeth
- Unsightly, stained, or washed-out fillings
- Permanently stained or discolored teeth that can’t be bleached
- Crooked teeth
Unlike crowns or caps, porcelain laminate veneers don’t require the removal of much tooth structure. Veneers are usually created in a dental laboratory from an impression taken in the dental office. During the first visit, the color is matched using a shade guide then the teeth are filed down a bit. Then the teeth are fitted with temporaries while the veneers are being created at the lab. Then the veneers are cemented directly onto your teeth and polished to a natural, aesthetic smile. Veneers are stronger and have a longer life than bonding, but the process requires more time. Veneers typically cost less than crowns and won’t stain, making them a popular means of improving your smile. Treatment may take two or more office visits to complete and should last more than 10 years.
Advantages and Benefits of Veneers
There are many benefits and advantages to having porcelain veneers placed on your front teeth:
- The procedure takes only two appointments
- A conservative amount of tooth structure is removed during the procedure
- Veneers are the most biocompatible material you can use next to the gingiva
- A healthy “natural” look is achieved; in fact, porcelain veneers are the most aesthetic restoration in dentistry.
How are Veneers different from Bonding or Crowns?
Bonding is a resin filling material that was used for several years to cover the front surface of teeth. Today, we generally use bonding only to fill in small surfaces or cavities and repair chips in teeth. A full crown is when a tooth has had root canal treatment, or when a substantial amount of the entire tooth structure (enamel) has been lost.
How are Porcelain Veneers done?
At the first appointment the teeth are prepared for the veneers and an impression is taken. This impression is then sent to a lab where each porcelain veneer is custom made to the dentist’s specifications and beautiful temporaries are fabricated to simulate your new smile so you can expect to leave the first appointment looking better than when you came in. At the second appointment the veneers are permanently adhered to the natural teeth.
What to Expect
Veneers can last indefinitely, depending on how well they are taken care of by the patient. Because veneers are stronger than simple bonding, they are also more resistant to stains and chipping. You must maintain regular oral hygiene at home, and visit us for routine cleanings and exams. This is to ensure that your new veneers will look as good as new. Another important point is that oral habits that damage natural teeth such as nail biting, opening bobby pins, and chewing on hard objects can also damage your new veneers. Once veneers are applied, just treat them like natural teeth. They look great and are extremely durable.
Dental bonding is an option that can be considered:
- To repair decayed teeth (composite resins are used to fill cavities)
- To repair chipped or cracked teeth
- To improve the appearance of discolored teeth
- To close spaces between teeth
- To make teeth look longer
- To change the shape of teeth
- As a cosmetic alternative to amalgam fillings
- To protect a portion of the tooth’s root that has been exposed when gums recede
What’s the Procedure for Having a Tooth Bonded?
Preparation. Little advance preparation is needed for dental bonding. Anesthesia is often not necessary unless the bonding is being used to fill a decayed tooth. Your dentist will use a shade guide to select a composite resin color that will closely match the color of your tooth.
The bonding process. Next, the surface of the tooth will be roughened and a conditioning liquid applied. These procedures help the bonding material adhere to the tooth. The tooth-colored, putty-like resin is then applied, molded, and smoothed to the desired shape. An ultraviolet light or laser is then used to harden the material. After the material is hardened, your dentist will further trim and shape it, and polish it to match the sheen of the rest of the tooth surface.
Time-to-completion. Dental bonding takes about 30 to 60 minutes per tooth to complete.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Dental Bonding?
Advantages: Dental bonding is among the easiest and least expensive of cosmetic dental procedures. Unlike veneers and crowns, which are customized tooth coverings that must be manufactured in a lab, bonding usually can be done in one office visit unless several teeth are involved. Another advantage, compared with veneers and crowns, is that the least amount of tooth enamel is removed. Also, unless dental bonding is being performed to fill a cavity, anesthesia is usually not required.
Disadvantages: Although the material used in dental bonding is somewhat stain resistant, it does not resist stains as well as crowns. Another disadvantage is that the bonding materials do not last as long nor are as strong as other restorative procedures, such as crowns, veneers, or fillings. Additionally, bonding materials can chip and break off the tooth.
Because of some of the limitations of dental bonding, some dentists view it as best suited for small cosmetic changes, for temporary correction of cosmetic defects, and for correction of teeth in areas of very low bite pressure (for example, front teeth).
Crowns & Bridges
Crowns (or caps) are dental restorations that are placed over a tooth when conservative restorations are insufficient to restore form and function. A bridge serves to replace a missing tooth or teeth. One type of bridge consists of crowns placed on either side of the missing tooth to connect the replacement tooth or teeth to them. Another type of bridge consists of the replacement tooth attached to the adjacent teeth with wing-like appendages. Bridges can also be supported by dental implants. Crowns and bridges can be made entirely of tooth-colored material, metal, or a combination to provide optimal aesthetics. Some metal-free crowns and bridges incorporate stress-bearing materials to enhance their strength and wear-resistance.
Is A Crown Right For Me?
Crowns address aesthetic needs, restore tooth function, and enhance the overall health of your mouth. In cases where teeth have large broken down fillings, a crown can protect and preserve the remaining natural tooth. To enhance your smile a metal-free, tooth colored crown can also replace an older metal/porcelain crown. Following root canal therapy, a crown is typically placed over the remaining tooth structure to preserve aesthetic and tooth function.
Is a Bridge Right For Me?
In cases where teeth are missing, a bridge prevents the remaining natural teeth from shifting so that dental health and facial aesthetics are not compromised. Bridges may also provide a permanent, non-removable alternative to removable partial or full dentures. Whether supported by natural teeth or implants, bridges can offer life-like aesthetics and stable chewing surfaces. The can be easily maintained by brushing with modified brushing and flossing.
What Happens At The First Appointment?
With both crowns and bridges, the dentist needs to shape the teeth to provide stable support and precise fit of the final restoration.
Following tooth preparation, impressions are taken of the teeth, and a replica of your mouth is created for the dental laboratory to make the restoration. You and your dentist with carefully discuss the color, shape, and size of the crown(s) or bridge(s). A temporary restoration is secured to protect the prepared teeth and maintain the precise space left by the tooth until the new restoration is fabricated.
If an implant-supported crown or bridges is the best option, the dentist evaluates the patient’s health and suitability for the implant placement. The dentist may also proceed with surgical planning or refer the patient to a specialist trained in implant surgery. (For details, see the Proactive Care brochure on Implants).
What Happens At the Next Appointment?
When the crown or bridge is fabricated, the dentist removes the patient’s temporary restoration, and tries on the crown or bridges to verify fit and patient approval. Once the restoration is adjusted and approved, the dentist uses a luting cement or an adhesive bonding agent to permanently secure the final restoration.