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Changing your smile with veneers

The procedure of veneering

For instant transformation, porcelain veneers can be used. These are thin shells of medical-grade ceramic that are bonded to the front surface of the teeth. The veneers are individually made for each patient, and look like natural dental enamel.

These veneers can be used to correct different problems, like orthodontic adjustments of gaps between teeth, minor misalignment, to teeth whitening where there is discoloration, or where there is chips and cracks.

There needs to be enough healthy enamel as the dentist will remove a thin layer of enamel before placing the veneers. This is not a procedure for people with gym disease, tooth decay, or a root canal infection. If they have any of these, they will need to be treated prior to the veneer placing. Plus, if you grind your teeth, or clinch your jaw this procedure will be wrong for you. That is since it will cause strain of the veneers and lead to breakage. But there are newly developed dental materials allow ceramists to create stronger restorations that may be suitable for such patients, like lithium disilicate veneers.

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The process of veneering

Preparing the teeth: removing the enamel

First, the dentist removes a fine layer of enamel from the front of the teeth to be treated. The exact amount of enamel depends on the patient’s individual needs and the type of veneers being placed. However, in most cases, the dentist typically removes about .5 mm to .7 mm of dental material from the front of the teeth. In many cases, the amount is so small that no anesthetic is required.

Dental impressions

When this first step is complete, the dentist takes impressions of the teeth. Traditionally, he or she will do this by placing soft putty into a tray. As the tray rests in the mouth, it hardens around the teeth. Then the dentist sends these impressions to an off-site dental lab. If a dentist uses advanced CEREC technology, he or she takes a detailed sequence of pictures, which feeds into a chair-side computer. Dental software generates a three-dimensional picture of a patient’s mouth, and an in-office milling system fabricates veneers using these highly precise images.

Temporary veneers

If a dentist works with an off-site lab, it typically takes one to two weeks before the veneers are delivered to the office. In these cases, the dentist may provide patients with a set of temporary veneers. Sometimes, patients are troubled by the appearance of their smile following the enamel removal. More often, dentists place temporary veneers to protect the underlying dentin and prevent sensitivity. Usually they determine whether temporary veneers are necessary based on the amount of enamel removed.

Placing the veneers

When the veneers are complete, the dentist double checks their shape and appearance. In particular, he or she makes certain that the porcelain does not affect the patient’s bite or cause any alignment issues. If necessary, he or she can trim down and reshape the porcelain. The dentist also checks the color of the veneers against the natural shade of the patient’s smile. Although veneers are already made of custom-matched porcelain, the dentist can often fine-tune their appearance by selecting the right shade of bonding material. During this assessment process, patients should work closely with their dental practitioners to ensure their desired outcome.

Etching the tooth

Immediately before placing veneers, the dentist applies an acid gel to the teeth. The gel dissolves some of the minerals on the surface of the teeth, creating a rough surface on the microscopic level. Then he or she coats the teeth in a bonding agent, and the solution adheres inside the tiny fissures on their surface. This process creates a strong base for the porcelain veneers.

Cementing the veneers

Finally, the dentist spreads dental cement on the back of the veneers and affixes the porcelain on the front of the teeth. As stated above, the color of cement is specifically chosen to coordinate with the veneers and match the natural color of a patient’s smile. After applying a gentle force to set the porcelain in place, the dentist uses a curing light to harden the cement. The light stimulates a chemical reaction in the bonding agent, causing the cement to set in a matter of minutes.

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Recovery

After receiving porcelain veneers, there is no recovery time. Unless patients have opted for dental sedation, they will be able to drive themselves home from the office, and they can immediately go about their daily routine, including physical activity. Following the enamel removal, patients may temporarily experience some mild discomfort. For about a week, they may want to avoid very hot or cold foods, as well as extremely chewy, hard, or crunchy food. When this initial sensitivity wears off, however, patients should be able to return to their normal dietary habits

Risks

As with any medical treatment, there are some risks associated with the placement of porcelain veneers. For the most part, these risks are minor and quite rare.

Because this treatment often involves enamel removal, the biggest risk is that a patient will experience permanent tooth sensitivity, especially to hot or cold temperatures. And if sensitivity lasts for more than 3 to 6 months after veneers placement, this indicates an underlying problem with the procedure. This could mean that the dental cement may be leaking or the nerve may have been exposed and infected during placement.

There is also a risk that the underlying dentin may become damaged during the enamel removal process. Or due to a poorly fitting veneer could change the alignment of the bite. This can lead to dental sensitivity, discomfort while eating, or even bruxism and jaw pain.

Veneers are meant to last for decades, but it can be that they need to be replaced. The second placement process will involve another round of enamel removal. Those who already have some enamel erosion before their first treatment may not have enough material for a second placement. In these cases, they will require an alternative restoration such as cosmetic bonding or a dental crown.

About Jacques Dippenaar

Jacques is an influential health blogger and researcher helping readers explore interesting facts and information.

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