Yara Zakharia, Esq.
It used to be that a cover girl or a GQ smile was reserved exclusively for actors, models, and celebrities. With the arrival on the cosmetic scene of dental veneers, shapely, perfectly-aligned, teeth beaming forth a sparkling pearly white smile are now accessible to everyone. What is more, advances in the cosmetic dentistry field have yielded translucent veneers that preserve the natural appearance and feel of a patient's teeth. Designed to enhance an individual's appearance by creating a straight, bright smile, correcting or concealing dental flaws, and protecting damaged teeth, dental veneers have become one of the most requested cosmetic dentistry procedures.
These thin customized shells composed of a tooth-like texture cover the surface or front portion of a patient's teeth. Application of the dental veneers to a client's visible teeth is a procedure that is pain-free, straightforward, and necessitates solely a few visits. Some of the teeth issues that dental veneers can dissimulate or correct are the following:
- Chipped or cracked teeth
- Crooked teeth
- Dull, discolored, or stained teeth
- Uneven teeth
- Widely-spaced teeth or gaps between teeth
- Worn enamel
One of the leading motivations for consumers' interest in dental veneers is teeth whitening.
Temporary veneers, known as lumineers, are available to fix small cracks or chips, mask discoloration, and repair imperfections. This is a less invasive procedure that is ideal for individuals with a hyper-sensibility to pain. Unlike conventional dental veneers, lumineers do not involve significant scraping and polishing of the client's teeth prior to application. They are also recommended for individuals who desire only a temporary fix.
Since the procedure for lumineer application is reversible, clients may professionally remove these veneers without damaging their teeth and can always choose to upgrade to the traditional kind at any time in the future. Lumineers are also less-costly (sometimes by up to 50%) than standard porcelain veneers. Consumers seeking rectification of significant teeth problems and aiming for optimal results, however, tend to opt for traditional dental veneers.
Are Dental Veneers Right For Me?
To qualify for dental veneers, prospective patients must not have periodontal disease, and their teeth must be in good health and not show evidence of decay. The initial consultation begins with a complete dental exam and a discussion of the client's expectations. The cosmetic dentist will ask the patient what kind of smile he or she would like to achieve and will evaluate the number of veneers needed to accomplish such an objective.
In fitting their clients' teeth for the appropriate shape and size, dental professionals may utilize cosmetic digital imaging. The dentist will then proceed in the selection of the color that best corresponds or blends with the patient's surrounding teeth. The next step involves trimming the enamel that the veneer will cover in order to maintain the tooth's natural look, as well as grinding and shaping the surface of the tooth so that it will bond better and longer with the veneer. The dentist then seals the tooth with a temporary veneer that is made of light cement.
Prospective patients may choose between porcelain and composite resin veneers:
Porcelain Dental Veneers
Small, thin covers made of porcelain are applied to the sides and front side of the client's teeth. Porcelain veneers are the preferred choice for consumers who would like to bleach their teeth, enhance their smile, or repair chipped or crooked teeth. The cosmetic dentist will create an impression of his or her client's teeth and sends this to a lab technician who in turn will design a wax prototype of the projected end result. The dentist then decides whether to effectuate any changes and grants authorization to the lab to proceed with the creation of new porcelain teeth.
The patient is then fit with the temporary veneers for a period of three to four weeks, after which they are removed and a permanent set of veneers bonded to his or her teeth. Sometimes a follow-up re-shaping session is required to ensure a proper and lasting fit. Porcelain dental veneers are stain-resistant and tend to last longer than their composite counterparts.
Cosmetic tooth bonding may also be accomplished through use of a filling that mimics the shade of a client's teeth. In this case, it is the dentist rather than a lab technician who
performs all of the preparatory steps. Composites may be placed on a person's teeth in just one visit. They are also easier to repair than porcelain veneers.
Some of the most commonly-used dental technologies in the diagnosis and treatment of patients are (1) the soft tissue laser, (2) digital imaging, (3) a computer-operated anesthesia instrument known as the wand, and (4) the IntraOral camera. Following the procedure, clients may experience tooth sensitivity and/or tender gums, which are assuaged by over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. Dental veneers do not carry the risk of complications. Post-procedural care involves the daily maintenance of proper oral hygiene.
Procedure Information and Costs
Dental veneers are sturdier than bonding, usually involve the removal of less tooth surface than do crowns, and are less costly than the latter. Since veneers are generally considered aesthetic in nature, dental insurance providers do not normally cover the cost of the procedure, which may range anywhere from $700 to $2,000. Individuals can expect their porcelain veneers to last an average of 10 to 15 years, whereas those wearing composite resin veneers generally replace them every 5 to 7 years.
Dental veneers vary in price depending on such factors as:
- The caliber of lab that the dentist utilizes
- The dentist's experience and skill
- The location of the dental clinic
- The region where the procedure is performed
Numerous dental clinics offer monthly payment plans to prospective patients, thus enabling them to comfortably finance the procedure.
[page updated December 2008]