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Tips for Taking Care of your Porcelain Veneers

Dental veneers (sometimes called porcelain veneers or dental porcelain laminates) are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve your appearance. These shells are bonded to the front of the teeth changing their color, shape, size, or length.

Dental veneers can be made from porcelain or from resin composite materials. Porcelain veneers resist stains better than resin veneers and better mimic the light reflecting properties of natural teeth. Resin veneers are thinner and require removal of less of the tooth surface before placement. You will need to discuss the best choice of veneer material for you with your dentist.

What Types of Problems Do Dental Veneers Fix?

Veneers are routinely used to fix:

  • Teeth that are discolored — either because of root canal treatment; stains from tetracycline or other drugs, excessive fluoride or other causes; or the presence of large resin fillings that have discolored the tooth
  • Teeth that are worn down
  • Teeth that are chipped or broken
  • Teeth that are misaligned, uneven, or irregularly shaped (for example, have craters or bulges in them)
  • Teeth with gaps between them (to close the space between these teeth)

What’s the Procedure for Getting a Dental Veneer?

Getting a dental veneer usually requires three trips to the dentist – one for a consultation and two to make and apply the veneers. One tooth or many teeth can simultaneously undergo the veneering process described below.

  • Diagnosis and treatment planning. This first step involves your active participation. Explain to your dentist the result that you are trying to achieve. During this appointment, your dentist will examine your teeth to make sure dental veneers are appropriate for you and discuss what the procedure will involve and some of its limitations. He or she also may take X-rays and possibly make impressions of your mouth and teeth.
  • Preparation. To prepare a tooth for a veneer, your dentist will remove about 1/2 millimeter of enamel from the tooth surface, which is an amount nearly equal to the thickness of the veneer to be added to the tooth surface. Before trimming off the enamel, you and your dentist will decide the need for a local anesthetic to numb the area. Next, your dentist will make a model or impression of your tooth. This model is sent out to a dental laboratory, which in turn constructs your veneer. It usually takes 1-2 weeks for your dentist to receive the veneers back from the laboratory. For very unsightly teeth, temporary dental veneers can be placed for an additional cost.
  • Bonding. Before the dental veneer is permanently cemented to your tooth, your dentist will temporarily place it on your tooth to examine its fit and color. He or she will repeatedly remove and trim the veneer as needed to achieve the proper fit; the veneer color can be adjusted with the shade of cement to be used. Next, to prepare your tooth to receive the veneer, your tooth will be cleaned, polished, and etched — which roughens the tooth to allow for a strong bonding process. A special cement is applied to the veneer and the veneer is then placed on your tooth. Once properly position on the tooth, your dentist will apply a special light beam to the dental veneer, which activates chemicals in the cement, causing it to harden or cure very quickly. The final steps involve removing any excess cement, evaluating your bite and making any final adjustments in the veneer as necessary. Your dentist may ask you to return for a follow-up visit in a couple of weeks to check how your gums are responding to the presence of your veneer and to once again examine the veneer’s placement.

You’ve made an investment to achieve that picture-perfect smile with porcelain veneers, but those amazing results won’t last forever without the right care plan. You will need to take extra good care of your teeth and gums after getting veneers because any dental problems can take their toll on the veneers. Since veneers are attached to your teeth, any gum or hygiene problems can be even more problematic because the gum tissues can swell and become puffy. Your cosmetic dentist and general dentist will provide you with a care plan after treatment, but it’s up to you to take good care of your oral health and your new teeth.

Cleaning Your Veneers

If you have any type of stains or issues with the surface of your teeth, make sure to get those taken care of before the veneers are applied. If you don’t take care of your teeth before the veneers, your gums can become very irritated and the gum tissue can become swollen and tender. Cleaning your teeth and veneers regularly will prevent any serious problems that can cause chipping, pitting, or staining of the veneers.

Polishing Veneers

A dental hygienist can polish your teeth and veneers about once every three or four months. You will need a dental visit for this polishing session because the hygienist will use special tools and cleaning solutions to buff and clean your teeth and veneers thoroughly. Make sure you’re keeping up with your regular brushing and flossing routine between dental visits and you’ll enjoy your results for years to come.

Managing Activities

Porcelain veneers do act just like regular teeth but that doesn’t mean they can withstand an excessive amount of pressure. Avoid biting down hard on bones, hair pins, or even chewing your fingernails. Chewing on ice can be very damaging to your teeth and can chip or break your veneers. If you participate in sports, wear a mouth protector when you’re on the field.

 

TIPS FOR TAKING CARE OF YOUR PORCELAIN VENEERS BY DR. JEFF JENKINS

 

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