Your smile is the first thing people notice about you, and it’s typically the last thing they’ll forget. If you’re unhappy with your smile, you might be considering cosmetic dentistry, but the options are dizzying. How do you know which is the right procedure for you?
At Dental Excellence of Blue Bell in Blue Bell, PA, cosmetic dentist Dr. Ken Siegel often recommends dental veneers. If you’re looking to dramatically transform your smile, these are likely the best choice because of the many benefits they offer.
What Are Veneers?
Dental veneers are thin facades of ceramic that are added to the visible surfaces of your teeth. They can sometimes extend over the biting edge of a tooth, covering three quarters of the tooth or more. They are used to give the tooth a new appearance, and are a purely cosmetic procedure, rather than a restorative treatment.
Dental veneers are often called porcelain veneers because in the past they were actually made of porcelain. Although modern restorations are more often made of advanced ceramics like lithium silicate, sometimes they’re still called porcelain veneers because the color and translucency is similar to porcelain.
Types of Veneers
Other than brand names and materials, we can divide veneers into three different types.
Traditional: The traditional veneer process begins by removing tooth material to make room for the ceramic facade. This is typically less than 1/50th inch, but it means that the procedure might not be reversible.
No-Prep: No-prep or minimal prep veneers are applied directly to the tooth, with little or no natural tooth material removed. The most famous brand of these is Lumineers, but others are available. In some situations, these can achieve good results, but in most cases they end up adding too much bulk to teeth.
Direct: Direct veneers are similar to dental bonding in that it uses composite material applied directly to teeth. However, BioClear is a flowable composite, which means that it can pour directly around your natural teeth, making the restoration denser and therefore more sturdy and stain-resistant. Because it’s easy for the flowable composite to reach the bottom of the tooth, this is a great approach for correcting “black triangles” in your smile.
Many Changes with One Procedure
One of the best benefits of dental veneers is that they can accomplish many changes in your smile with just one procedure. You can address:
- Crooked, gapped, or crowded teeth
- Worn teeth
- Chipped teeth
- Small or poorly shaped teeth
All at the same time. Instead of having to schedule and coordinate multiple procedures with competing requirements, it’s possible to accomplish a complete smile makeover with one procedure and just a few appointments.
Brighter Than Whitening
Tooth discoloration is probably the most common complaint people have about their smiles. Tooth whitening is a common procedure for addressing the problem, and it’s effective at removing stains.
However, sometimes you might not be happy with the results of teeth whitening. That’s because your tooth enamel might be too thin or naturally off-color to achieve the brightness you desire. But with veneers, your teeth can be as white as you want. That’s because they cover your tooth enamel with ceramic that can be as bright as you want.
Faster Than Braces
Dental veneers can achieve many of the things that braces and other orthodontic treatments do: closing gaps between teeth, straightening teeth, and rotating teeth.
But while braces can take months or years to achieve results, veneers can do it all within a month or less. No wonder why they’re often described as instant orthodontics.
Not only do veneers make your teeth as bright as you want, they can keep your teeth white. That’s because there’s a glaze on the ceramic that resists new stains. As long as you don’t scratch your restorations, they can stay bright for years, even decades. And modern materials don’t discolor internally the way some older options did.
Dental veneers are very durable. They can last 10-20 years. In the past, the restorations might have been susceptible to chipping and debonding within a few years, but modern materials and cements are much more reliable.
In fact, veneers are one of the longest-lasting cosmetic dentistry procedures. Whitening may last six months or less. Bonding may last a couple years. Only dental implants and braces, which can last a lifetime, last longer.
Easy to Care For
Dental veneers are also easy to care for. Just care for them as you would your natural teeth. Brush, floss, and see the dentist as recommended. Avoid biting into nonfood objects. Don’t use your teeth as tools.
There is a lot of outdated information out there about how to care for veneers. Because they used to be made of porcelain, it was often recommended that people avoid foods that are hard to bite into, like carrots. Modern dental materials are stronger than tooth enamel, so anything you can bite with natural teeth, you can bite with veneers.
You also don’t have to use special toothpaste. Yes, highly abrasive toothpaste can damage veneers, but it can also damage your teeth. Any toothpaste that is suitable for your teeth is suitable for your restorations. We’ll talk to you about your toothpaste and find an option that’s good for you.
Disadvantages of Veneers
Despite their many benefits, veneers have limitations and are not suitable for everyone. Here are some of the reasons why you might not want to choose this cosmetic dentistry procedure.
Cost: Many people find the cost of veneers to be a challenge. They are expensive when compared to procedures like bonding or whitening, even braces. The cost is made even higher because they aren’t covered by insurance at all. However, when you consider the benefits of veneers, they are often worth the investment.
Sensitivity: Whenever we remove natural tooth material, there’s a risk that you might experience more sensitivity as a result. That’s because your teeth have less enamel and/or dentin to protect them from changes in temperature and pressure. This is less of a risk with veneers than with other dental restorations, but it can happen.
Decay: Veneers are a cosmetic treatment, not a repair. They can alter the appearance of your teeth, but don’t address health problems in your teeth. Teeth that have cavities or infection usually require a different approach, such as dental crowns, to address the health and functional issues.
Alternatives to Veneers
In truth, there is no true alternative to dental veneers. Nothing is capable of achieving the same results with the same durability, but if you want to achieve some of the results, potentially sacrificing some of the others, you might consider these alternatives.
Dental bonding: Dental bonding is a composite that can be applied directly to your teeth. It starts as a putty that the dentist sculpts to achiev