If you’ve spent years being slightly to extremely dissatisfied with your smile (and its impact on your overall appearance), you may have considered dental veneers as one of your restorative options.
However, grinding down otherwise healthy teeth for the placement of these veneers can feel like an irrevocable step, and even those who avoid showing their teeth in photos or feel self-conscious about their appearance may experience some trepidation when it comes time to alter their natural teeth.
Read on to learn more about the process of placing dental veneers and some of the factors you’ll want to consider when deciding whether this procedure is right for you.
How Dental Veneers Are Implanted
Dental veneers are designed to improve the structure, form, appearance and function of your natural teeth. While they’re often considered cosmetic in nature, dental veneers may also help maintain the health of your teeth, preventing decay and tooth loss later in life.
To implant a dental veneer, the dentist will first take some detailed measurements and X-rays of your mouth to determine the proper size and placement of the veneers and the area of your tooth to be covered. This assessment may often take place during a preliminary appointment a few weeks prior to your scheduled veneer application to ensure your dentist is well-prepared for your appointment.
Your dentist will then carefully grind away at the surface of the tooth that will receive the veneer, cutting down the surface so that it can be seamlessly replaced with the porcelain veneer. This procedure can be the scariest part of the process for patients, particularly those seeking veneers for their front teeth. It may be best to avoid a mirror during this stage!
After your tooth has been ground down and the surface roughened slightly to make it more receptive to the veneer, the veneer will be placed on your tooth with a strong adhesive. After being “cured” with a laser, this adhesive will fuse to your natural tooth, rendering your new veneer just as strong and capable as your former tooth (and much more attractive to boot).
Although you’ll want to avoid super-sticky or sugary foods for a few hours after your veneers have been placed to give them plenty of time to adjust, you shouldn’t need to be overly careful about what you eat or drink. Today’s veneers are quite durable and designed to stand up to just about anything.
When Veneers Are Recommended
Veneers can provide a more attractive and functional smile in a variety of situations. Some times when one or more veneers may be recommended include:
Chipped teeth not only look unattractive but can be hazardous too. For example, you might cut your tongue on the rough edges of your damaged tooth. A tooth that is chipped in an accident can often be restored back to its pre-chip appearance through a dental veneer. Generally, getting dental veneers makes more sense than pulling the tooth and replacing it with a dental implant.
Many who visit their dentist in search of teeth whitening methods may be disappointed to learn that their dental enamel is too thin to tolerate most of the common whitening treatments, from peroxide to laser bleaching.
In other cases, what can appear to be stains or a yellowish cast to your teeth is actually the internal dentin shining through thinner-than-average enamel. Because you can’t change your dentin color or restore eroded enamel, your whitening options become far more limited without veneers.
Factors to Consider
If you’re dissatisfied with your natural teeth but still reluctant to bid a final and irrevocable goodbye to them, there are a few factors to consider that may set your mind at ease.
First, you’ll want to evaluate the impact your teeth are having on your self-esteem. While the thought of making a permanent change can be scary, you don’t want to find yourself looking back with regrets on the number of times you avoided being in a family photo or couldn’t fully enjoy yourself at an event due to feelings of self-consciousness about your smile.
You’ll also want to talk to your dentist about how your natural teeth are projected to hold up over time. Often, springing for veneers for cosmetic purposes can also help you avoid dental issues later in life; while you may be comparing the prospect of veneers to the alternative of doing nothing, knowing that it’s either veneers now or crowns or dentures in a decade may help cement your decision.
Because veneers can be slightly altered even after they’ve been adhered to your teeth (much like a crown that may need to be ground down a bit to ensure a solid contact surface), you may be able to have modifications made if you’re not completely happy with their appearance. The ability to tweak your teeth after veneers can take away much of the worry of altering your natural teeth.