Porcelain Veneers

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What are Porcelain Veneers?

Veneers are small, thin covers that go over damaged teeth to improve their overall appearance. There are different kinds of veneers offering various advantages and disadvantages, but one of the more common and popular kinds of veneer is the porcelain veneer, a veneer made out of porcelain, a type of ceramic known for its solid, pure white color.

Why do people get Porcelain Veneers?

There are a number of reasons people seek out veneers. Most commonly, veneers are used to cover up cosmetic damage from things like:
  • Cracked or chipped teeth
  • Uneven teeth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Loss of enamel
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While there are many cosmetic reasons why you would seek out veneers, veneers are also beneficial to teeth because they add a protective layer. Not only are you going to remove any visual signs of lost enamel, but you are also likely to stop your mouth from losing more.
Still, largely, people get porcelain veneers because they wish to smile proudly again with teeth that are bright, clean, and properly aligned.
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What is the procedure like?

The procedure to have porcelain veneers is minimally invasive. For starters, the dentist will remove a small amount of enamel from the sides and the front of the teeth. At this point, a mold is made so that the veneers can be produced to match the shape and size of your teeth. This is also usually when the shade of the veneer is decided upon. From this point, the dentist will give you temporary veneers while the mold is sent off. It can take up to or even over a week for the porcelain veneers to be made, so you will have to come back to the dentist to have the temporary veneers removed and have the porcelain ones put in.
On the second visit, if a local anesthetic is needed, it is given right away. Following the anesthetic, the temporary veneers are removed and the teeth are thoroughly cleaned. At this point, the bonding process looks a bit like this:
  1. The teeth are isolated from the rest of the mouth so that saliva does not contaminate the process.
  2. The veneers are ‘tried on’ to make sure they fit. If they do not, adjustments are made.
  3. The surface of the teeth that are going to have the bonding agent applied is cleaned again. An acidic agent is used for ‘etching’, which creates microscopic holes in the teeth to help the bond properly apply.
  4. The teeth are then treated with an agent that will keep the teeth from being overly sensitive post-operation and a bonding resin is applied.
  5. A light paste, known as the ‘cement’, is applied to the teeth. 
  6. The porcelain veneers are then added to each tooth individually. The veneers have also been treated with an acidic agent and resin and the cement is applied to both the tooth and the veneer. Blue light is shone on the teeth in a process known as ‘light-curing’. Depending on the needs of the patient or the type of ‘cement’ used, the dentist may double bond the teeth by both lights and chemically curing the ‘cement’.
  7. The teeth are cleaned again. In some instances, a smoothing drill may be used to smooth out and adjust the veneers for the best possible look. At this point, the teeth are checked to make sure that the patient is able to floss.
  8. The last step is a bite test to make sure that the veneers have set in properly and are comfortable for the patient.

Before & After Porcelain Veneers

Patient before treatment picture
Patient after treatment picture

What Do Porcelain Veneers Cost?

Since porcelain veneers are considered a cosmetic procedure, many dental insurance companies will not cover the procedure. If they do not, you can expect to pay anywhere from $950 to $2500 per tooth that is covered with a veneer. There are cheaper alternatives, but these products will not be made from porcelain.

Porcelain Veneers vs Resin Veneers

There are other types of veneers, specifically resin veneers. Porcelain veneers are more expensive, with resin veneers costing in the range of $250 to $1500 per tooth, but there are many reasons that porcelain veneers are preferable to other types of veneers:

  • Porcelain veneers can last up to 10 to 15 years, while other veneers may only last 5 to 7 years.
  • Porcelain veneers do not stain, so they will remain bright and clean for their entire life-span
  • Porcelain veneers are also stronger, so you are less likely to crack a porcelain veneer than other veneers, like resin
  • Porcelain veneers can come in a wide array of colors to properly match the rest of your mouth. Resin veneers only come in a single shade of white, and that shade tends to be noticeably unreal. Porcelain veneers will look natural in your mouth.
  • Porcelain looks natural in your mouth because of its translucent properties of porcelain. Translucency allows for the passage of light through the material, so while the porcelain will cover up damage and discoloration to your teeth, it will also allow bits of the natural tooth to shine through, blending into your mouth better and creating a better overall aesthetic

What should I do after getting my Porcelain Veneers?

Once you have gotten your porcelain veneers put in, there are a few things you should be careful of. While porcelain veneers are very tough and durable, they can still crack and chip, and if they do, you have to go through the whole, expensive procedure again. So, a few things to avoid once you’ve got your porcelain veneers in are:

  • Avoid chewing on anything hard for a few weeks. If you like to bite your fingernails or chew on pencils, try to resist the urge, and also try not to crunch down on the ice. It would probably also help to avoid hard candies for a bit. Hard fruits and vegetables should also be avoided for a short time, like carrots or apples.
  • Try not to grind your teeth after getting your veneers in. If you are a bruxer, someone who grinds their teeth heavily, your dentist may recommend protective teeth ware to wear while you sleep
  • Remember to keep taking care of your teeth by brushing and flossing regularly. The veneers can protect your teeth to an extent, but cavities can still form underneath your veneers

Are Veneers right for me?

There are a few circumstances where you cannot get porcelain veneers. People can’t get veneers if they:

  • Have unhealthy gums. If you have unhealthy gums, your dentist will need to deal with that first, which may add more cost to the procedure, though gum cleaning and treatment may be covered under dental plans.
  • Have teeth with corrupted enamel, so if you have a rotted tooth or a demineralized tooth, a dentist will not place a veneer over it.