Cosmetic Dentistry Are Porcelain Veneers For Me?
With all the advertising for cosmetic dentistry we see, it can be confusing to tell what's really going on. Cosmetic dentistry includes whitening, bonding, invisible orthodontics (braces) such as Invisalign, and porcelain veneers. Porcelain veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that are bonded to the front surfaces of teeth to correct dark, chipped, or rotated teeth. Before you decide if porcelain veneers are right for you, it's important to have enough information to make a good decision.
Some slick advertising by the company that makes Lumineers has caught the attention of both dentists and patients alike. Lumineers claim to be “no prep” and “no drilling” veneers, which appeals to many patients. While “no prep” veneers are certainly possible in some cases, “no prep” veneers often look bulky and lifeless, and crooked teeth cannot be corrected properly without some preparation. If the dentist does have to do some preparation, then perhaps it makes sense to use prettier porcelain such as Empress or EMax (a stronger version of Empress). Other name brand veneers such as MAC veneers are simply variations of traditional porcelain veneers.
Also, in order to achieve the best results, it is important to start with the end in mind. In my opinion, the best way to do that is to create a 3-D wax mock-up of how the teeth will look after the porcelain veneers are done. This allows the patient, the dentist, and the lab tech to identify potential problems with the expected result. It allows changes to be made during the temporary veneer stage. It also ensures that the natural teeth are not “over prepped” by removing tooth structure unnecessarily. “No prep” veneers are just that…very little preparation is done in advance, so the results are more varied.
It's important to remember that veneers will require a lifetime of maintenance. While well-done veneers are strong and beautiful, they often need replacement after ten or twenty years. They don't discolor as much as natural teeth because they are less porous, but the edges of the veneers may start to show if you experience gum recession. Good oral hygiene and regular checkups by your dentist are extremely important if you expect your veneers to last.
Finally, a veneer is really a crown that only covers the front of the tooth. In order to get the best cosmetic results, sometimes it's best to use a combination of veneers and actual crowns, which cover the entire tooth. It all depends on your desired results and what the dentist has to work with beforehand. Be sure to ask your dentist what additional training beyond dental school he or she has had in cosmetic dentistry. Those of us who do cosmetic procedures routinely are more than happy to share our credentials.