What Veneers Can Do to a Smile
Dental veneers are one of the most common cosmetic dental procedures performed in the United States, with thousands of people undergoing the procedure each year. Veneers are a quick and easy way to fix discoloration or cover chipped teeth, while preserving the original, healthy tooth underneath. A properly applied and maintained veneer can last up to 20 years.
Benefits of getting a dental veneer
The most obvious benefit of getting a veneer is the improvement of your smile, but a veneer can do much more than that! Besides covering discoloration, dentists often use veneers to cover chipped or broken teeth. This can eliminate rough edges from chips, improve the surface of the tooth and help prevent further damage or breakage since, unlike other bones, teeth do not heal naturally from a break. Once placed, the patient can treat the veneer like any other tooth, including brushing and eating “hard” foods like apples and carrots. A properly matched and placed veneer will look exactly like a normal, healthy tooth, and only trained dentists performing an exam should be able to tell the difference. In addition, a veneer does not require extensive re-shaping of the damaged or discolored tooth, meaning that for those with relatively minor damage a veneer is often a better treatment option than a crown.
Potential side effects and downsides of a veneer
There are few downsides to getting a dental veneer to correct cosmetic dental issues, however, once I have placed a veneer, that tooth will need a veneer for the rest of its life. A veneer cannot be taken off and once the placement process has begun, it cannot be stopped or reversed. Enamel must be removed in order to place the veneer, which may make the original tooth more sensitive to hot or cold temperatures, and those who grind their teeth are not good candidates for having a veneer, as the veneer may crack. In addition, the veneer cannot be bleached or whitened, so using tooth-whiteners may cause your veneer to stop matching the surrounding teeth. The good news is that few people have ever regretted getting a veneer from a reputable dentist, and if a veneer is damaged, looks discolored, no longer matches the surrounding teeth, or comes off, it can be replaced relatively easily.
The veneer-placement process
The first step in getting a dental veneer is a preliminary exam with your prosthodontist (a dentist specializing in cosmetic dentistry). After cleaning, the prosthodontist will perform an examination and take casts of your mouth, to ensure that a veneer is the right treatment for you, and so that a veneer can be ordered to fit and match your other teeth. They will give you a mirror to make sure you agree on which veneer color choice will best blend in and fit.
Depending on the type of veneer you have chosen, you may need a second appointment to prepare the tooth and place a temporary veneer. This procedure consists of administering a local anesthetic, shaving down the front and sides of the tooth, taking casts to ensure that the permanent veneer will fit perfectly and cementing a temporary veneer in place. The temporary veneer will be sized as close as possible to the original tooth, but may not be a perfect fit or match to the surrounding teeth.
If you have chosen to have a prep-less veneer, the prosthodontist will not place a temporary veneer at the first appointment. Instead, they will simply find the correct fit and color, and get the veneer ordered. At the second appointment, the permanent veneer will be placed after the tooth is thoroughly cleaned. The cementing process for a prep-less veneer is the same as for a standard veneer, with UV light being used to “set” the cement.
After placing the temporary veneer, the dentist will order the permanent one. It will take approximately 2-4 weeks for the permanent veneer to arrive, at which point you will need a second appointment to remove the temporary veneer and place the permanent one. This procedure is typically somewhat time-consuming, as the prosthodontist must check the fit of the veneer and may need to gradually shave the edges down in order to achieve a perfect fit. Once the veneer is fitted, a special cement is applied to the original tooth, the veneer is carefully placed and UV light is used to “set” the cement and keep the veneer in place permanently. This permanent veneer will look and feel like your original tooth and be matched to the surrounding teeth.
Neither type of veneer placement is painful, and most patients feel comfortable during the entire procedure (or as comfortable as they usually are at the dentist!). A dental veneer can greatly improve the quality of life and can be an excellent option for those with discoloration or minor chips and fractures. Many people choose to have a veneer or two placed for important events, like weddings and graduations.
Article written by Dr. Marc Lazare
If you are in need of dental veneers in the NYC area, visit Marc Lazare D.D.S., MAGD! Dr. Lazare is a board-certified cosmetic and family dentist and known by many as the “celebrity dentist” due to his high profile patients. Featured in a number of publications and has held speaking events all around the world, Dr. Lazare is a definite go-to when you are in need of a specialist who can provide the results wanted. Call his office today at 212-861-2599 for more information on this New York City-based dentist.