Porcelain veneers, also called dental laminates, are wafer-thin shells made out of dental ceramic that are bonded onto the front side of your teeth. They’re usually 0.5 to 0.6 mm thick – about ½ the thickness of a dime or twice the thickness of an eggshell. Veneers are used in cosmetic dentistry for improving the appearance of teeth. Think of it like you’re resurfacing a tooth when you get a veneer.
Transform Your Smile with Veneers
Veneers are routinely used to make adjustments to the shape and color of your teeth. Teeth that are discolored, worn, chipped, malformed, or have a combination of these problems, can all be improved with veneers. They are a great choice for:
- Repair of minor tooth imperfections and defects
- A durable alternative to dental bonding
- Whitening a smile
- Instant Orthodontics – they give you a straight tooth appearance
- Closing minor tooth gaps
Why Do Veneers Work?
You might be wondering how such a thin shell of porcelain can withstand all the wear and tear that they’ll be exposed to in your mouth. Although porcelain is brittle and is easily fractured if dropped or flexed, it becomes incredibly strong when bonded to your tooth.
Tooth enamel is the most highly mineralized body tissue – 98% mineral content vs. 70% for bone. When an acidic solution is placed on the enamel it will dissolve away some of the mineral content. After this treatment, the tooth’s smooth surface is transformed into one that’s jagged and rough on a microscopic level it becomes etched – like etched glass. After your tooth is etched Dr. Hemphill coats the tooth’s surface with a liquid bonding agent. The liquid seeps into the nooks and crannies of the tooth’s etched surface. Veneers are placed over the bonding agent establishing a strong bond between the tooth’s enamel and porcelain veneer.
Advantages of Veneers
There are three primary characteristics of veneers that make them a unique and desirable option.
- Placing veneers is a conservative procedure. Compared to placing dental crowns, much less tooth trimming is required.
- They handle light like natural teeth. They look very natural and have a life-like appearance that’s unsurpassed by any other type of dental restoration.
- Because of their ceramic surface, they offer superior stain resistance.
The Veneer Procedure
There are several steps taken when you decide to go with veneers. The process may take several dental office visits to accomplish.
The enamel on the front side of your tooth is trimmed back to accommodate the thickness of the veneer. If decay is present it will be removed during the trimming process.
Dr. Hemphill will use a shade guide to determine which color of porcelain most closely matches the shade of the neighboring teeth to the veneers. He may decide that different colors need to be used for different portions of the veneer. He’ll also make notes about which regions of the veneer need to be more or less translucent.
After trimming, Dr. Hemphill will take an impression of your tooth and its surrounding teeth and gums. This copy of your mouth will be used to fabricate your veneer.
Your porcelain veneer has been fabricated by a dental lab (1-2 week process) and is ready to be delivered. If a temporary veneer has been placed it will be removed. Dr. Hemphill will first evaluate how your veneer fits on your tooth. He’ll put it in place, inspect it, and make any final adjustments. Even though the dental lab has crafted your veneer to be ideal in shape, you and Dr. Hemphill may decide differently. It’s possible certain edges need to be shortened, squared off or rounded so it looks perfect. If this is the case Dr. Hemphill will complete the changes.an ideal shape, you and Dr. Hemphill may decide differently. It’s possible certain edges need to be shortened, squared off or rounded so it looks perfect. If this is the case Dr. Hemphill will complete the changes. Further refinement can be made after the veneer is bonded to the tooth. Dr. Hemphill will have chosen a shade of porcelain for your veneer that he expects will result in a close match with your tooth’s neighboring teeth. Because veneers are slightly translucent, its precise color can be fine-tuned by using different shades of bonding cement. He will use a trial paste to make sure the color is perfect. This paste will not bond but give you an idea of what it will look like once it is bonded. Dr. Hemphill will repeat this until you find the one that looks best. It’s important you feel good about the right shade because once it’s permanently bonded it cannot be changed.
Once you and Dr. Hemphill have determined that the veneer shape and shade is correct for you, your veneer can be bonded into place. Your teeth will be dried and a small amount of bonding agent will be placed on your teeth. A small amount of cement will be placed on the veneers and then seated on your teeth. The excess cement will be removed and a blue light will be used to activate the cement to bond to your tooth. Dr. Hemphill will use a scaler to make sure all excess cement has been removed from your teeth and then the teeth will be polished. Finally, any small changes in your bite or shape of the veneer will then be made.