Porcelain Veneers: What to Expect

If you’re one of the 28% of Americans who hide their smile because they don’t like their teeth, you may want to consider getting a cosmetic dental device called porcelain veneers. Porcelain veneers, or simply ‘veneers’ are thin pieces of porcelain that are permanently adhered to the front surfaces of your teeth, to improve everything from color to the shape of the tooth. Veneers can even correct some minor crookedness of the teeth, eliminating the need for lengthy and painful procedures like dental implants or braces.

To place your veneers, your dentist will first file down the existing teeth that you would like covered with the veneer. This may or may not require local anesthesia. You can expect to lose about a half millimeter of enamel during this process- but that will be replaced by the veneer when it is applied. Next, your dentist will take a mold of the newly filed down teeth, so the lab knows the correct size and shape to make the veneer. Next, the mold is sent to the lab, and you can expect your veneers to be ready in about a week.

When your veneers are available, you will be asked to return to the dental office to have them attached. Bonding the veneers to your natural teeth should be a painless process, but it could take some time. This is because the dentist must keep placing and adjusting each veneer until the correct shape and size is achieved. Once you and the dentist are satisfied with the shape and size of the veneers, your teeth must be prepped to have them attached. This is done by first cleaning the affected teeth, and then polishing and “etching” the tooth’s surface, so the cement has something to adhere to. The veneer is then backed in cement and placed on your tooth. When you are happy with veneer’s placement, it is bonded to the tooth via a special light, similar to the light used in composite fillings.  Once the veneer is firmly in place, the dentist will then file down the tooth, and clean up any excess cement on the tooth surfaces. You are then free to enjoy your beautiful new smile!

So, how do you know if you qualify for veneers? Veneers are great for people with healthy teeth and gums, who are looking for a quick, relatively easy way to improve their smile without major intervention. Patients with discolored, gapped, worn, broken, or misshapen teeth may be good candidates for veneers- but the best way to find out is to schedule a consultation. You can do so by calling Dr. George’s office at 724-934-3422. If you are found to be a good candidate for veneers, we can begin the process as soon as you’re ready, and you can be sharing your beautiful smile within a week!

For patients who have taken the next step towards a beautiful smile, here are some care tips for your new veneers:

  • When it comes to cleaning your veneers, treat them like you would your natural teeth. Because some of the natural tooth is still exposed, you definitely need to brush and floss twice daily and use a non-abrasive toothpaste that contains fluoride.
  • Be careful with what foods you eat with veneers. Limit staining foods like coffee, wine, and dark colas. If you do choose to indulge in these foods, clean your veneers thoroughly after eating. Because veneers are a man-made material, they do have some inherent stain resistance, but you don’t want to risk needing to replace them ahead of schedule.
  • You WILL need to replace your veneers eventually. The average life of a veneer is between 7-12 years, depending on how well you take care of them, and how rough you are on your teeth. Things like tooth grinding can cut their life down considerably.

Remember, veneers are not indestructible. They are made of porcelain, and can crack. Most of the time, veneers cannot be repaired- they must be replaced. Another little-known fact about veneers is that teeth with veneers can still get cavities. In some cases, the dentist may need to remove the veneer to get to the cavity and fill it, which would require the placement of a brand-new veneer- and since insurance most likely will not cover your veneers, it can really add up if you don’t take good care of your natural teeth. Also, because the tooth has been reduced in size for the veneer, your natural teeth may become too small to reattach a veneer if more cavities must be filled, so your veneer can quickly be replaced with a crown if you’re not careful!

If you’re ready to learn more about veneers and to see if you might be a good candidate for this cosmetic procedure, give Dr. George’s office a call at 724-934-3422 and schedule a consultation.

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