• Dr Mohamed Tarek Galal

Hollywood Smile: How veneers work

What Are Dental Veneers ?

Dental veneers (sometimes called porcelain veneers or dental laminates) are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve your appearance. These shells are bonded to the front of the teeth changing their color, shape, size, or length. They are similar to artificial nails that you place on your fingers for good looks.

What are Veneers Made of ?

There are two main types of Dental Veneers:

· Porcelain Veneers: these are the most commonly used veneers. They are made from a wafer thin shell of porcelain. It is made in the laboratory and cemented by the dentist to the prepared tooth structure.

· Composite Veneers: These are less commonly used, and people resort to them only due to financial issues. They are made directly in the patient’s mouth, using the same material as the tooth colored filling named composite resin. These, while looking really good and natural, are not as strong as porcelain veneers and their life expectancy is much less.

Another type of veneers is called removable veneers (also known as Snap-On smile). This type can be removed from the teeth so that they can be cleaned thoroughly, and also requires no preparation or shaving of the teeth. Its main problem is that it is quite fragile and can only be used with a soft diet.

How Are Veneers made ?

Case selection is key, as not everybody and every case can benefit from veneers. People with improper bites (such as overbite or crossbite) are very liable to break the veneers once they’re placed, and so other options are preferred. Also people who have very small teeth are not viable candidates for veneers, due to the lack of sufficient tooth structure to be cemented properly.

The procedure itself is very simple. The dentist usually starts with preparing your teeth, making them a little smaller on the outer surface in order to receive the veneer, but no need for alarm, as the dentist will only remove about 0.5 mm of the tooth, inflicting nearly no harm to the tooth. He\she then takes a replica (called an impression) which is then delivered to the laboratory in order to make the veneers from porcelain. Afterwards, the laboratory returns the completed work to the dentist, who treats it with a gel like material, in order to make the bond with the tooth permanent. The veneers are then cemented on your teeth with special glue (called resin cement).

Recently, Digital impressions have been used (also referred to as CAD\CAM technology) where a special camera is used to take the replica instead of the normal paste like impression materials, and a special milling machine is used to form the veneer through a computer program, making it possible to receive your veneers in one visit in about 1 hour.

Another new advancement in the dental cosmetics field is what is known as “No prep Veneers”. These look exactly the same as normal veneers, except the procedure is quite different, where there is no need to remove a part of the tooth, and only minor adjustments are required before taking the impression. This has the advantage of not damaging the tooth structure, but the technique is fairly new and still undergoing a lot of research to prove their worth.

Composite veneers are made in a similar manner as a normal tooth colored filling, by using a gel on the tooth structure making it rough, and applying a bonding agent, onto which the composite resin is applied and finished to give the same shine and external appearance as the tooth.

how veneers are made

Who is a candidate for receiving dental veneers?

Receiving a veneer is a cosmetic procedure. Everybody wants the beautiful “Hollywood Smile” as all the actors and celebrities. Applications of veneers are a wide array of cosmetic problems including:

· Discoloration of the teeth, either from years of staining from food and drink, or some medications such as Tetracycline.

· Teeth that are chipped or worn down due to grinding or biting on hard objects.

· Spacing between the teeth, and in some cases even missing teeth can be treated by veneers if the space is not very large.

How long to Veneers last?

With proper care, a finely made dental veneer can last up to 10 or 12 years. You can expect your pearly whites to last long if you take proper care of them.

What are the drawbacks of dental veneers?

Dental veneers require removal of a portion of the tooth, and therefore the process cannot be reversed, and in some cases, sensitivity to hot and cold is expected in the beginning that disappears within a few days (This of course can be managed through using “No Prep Veneers”, where no part of the tooth is removed). They also require the laboratory to chip in, which means a few errors could be expected, and some time before receiving the veneers is expected (This can also be managed through using CAD\CAM technology, which guarantees your veneers will be delivered in the same day).

How do I take care of my veneers?

Most people think that veneers or crowns are artificial replacements and don’t need special care, but this could not be farther from the truth. Veneers only cover the outer surface of the teeth, so the inside part still require normal care, so normal brushing twice a day and flossing at least twice a week is advised. Also, in some cases, multiple veneers can be in the form of one unit, which puts some pressure on the gums and creates areas where food can be lodged, which can cause gum disease later. In this case, a floss pick is advisable (which is an electronic tooth pick that shoots water into these areas to effectively clean them). Another very common problem with veneers is that they can get de-bonded or removed from their place, usually due to biting on something hard like an apple, that’s why your dentist would advise you to cut hard foods into smaller pieces and in some cases, avoid biting on them all together, which takes really special care and consideration from the patient, and if that happens, the patient should head directly to the dentist to get the veneer re-attached to the tooth.

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