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Porcelain veneers are very thin porcelain shells which are bonded to the front of teeth. Porcelain veneers can be used to cover stained teeth, chipped teeth, and can be ideal for improving the appearance of the front teeth. Porcelain veneers can be used to improve your smile and heighten self-esteem.
Porcelain veneers are a conservative alternative to crowns in many situations because they only require the removal of small amounts of tooth structure, if any. Porcelain veneers can be used to improve the shape, position and color of your teeth. Porcelain veneers can be used to cover undesirable defects, such as tetracycline stained teeth. The desired shade of porcelain can be chosen to give you the color you desire to improve a single discolored or stained tooth or to lighten all the front teeth. A porcelain veneer can make a chipped tooth look intact again. Porcelain veneers can also be used to close small gaps, when orthodontics (braces) is not suitable. If one tooth is slightly out of position, a veneer can sometimes be fitted to even its position with the others.
Porcelain veneers may require four or more appointments for the entire procedure. It starts with a comprehensive exam and proper diagnosis and treatment planning. It is important to let your dentist know what your desires are and any conditions such as grinding or clenching at night which can affect the design and longevity of the porcelain veneers. After the initial consultation, be sure that your dentist completes a diagnostic wax up for you to review. This procedure involves taking a mold of your teeth and creating your new smile on the model of your old teeth in wax. This is an important step because it allows you to see what your smile will look like prior to continuing with treatment. It will also then serve as a mold for the dentist to use to make your temporary veneers so that you may try them out. Have more than one consultation, if necessary, to feel comfortable that your dentist understands your objectives. The next step involves preparing your teeth for the porcelain veneers. Sometimes no preparation is needed and sometimes tooth structure needs to be removed. The amount of tooth structure required to be removed depends on various factors and can be discussed during the diagnostic wax up review. The dentist will then make the temporary veneers out of a tooth colored acrylic material using the mold from the diagnostic wax up. You can then try out the shape and look of the veneers for several weeks. This will allow you to ask for changes in shape and or length prior to having the lab fabricate the permanent veneers. After the lab has fabricated the final porcelain veneers the porcelain veneers are then cemented into place with special bonding cement.
After the porcelain veneers have been cemented into place, only minor adjustments can be made to the porcelain veneer. It is usually best to wait a little while to get used to them before any changes are made. Your dentist will probably want to check them a week or so after they are cemented to make any adjustments that are necessary and to make sure that you are happy with them.
Veneers should last for many years but they can chip, break, or get decay just as your own teeth can. If you grind or clench it is important to wear an occlusal guard made by your dentist at night to protect your investment. It is important to realize that they will need to be replaced in the future and to be able to plan financially for their replacement when that time comes. It is important to continue to see your dentist every six months for an exam and cleaning to keep your teeth and restorations healthy.