If you’re seeking a Hollywood smile (and let’s face it, who isn’t?), cosmetic dentistry is the only way to go. Very few of us are lucky enough to be blessed with perfectly shaped, sparkling white teeth, but fortunately there are a few dental treatments which can completely transform they way your teeth look.
Dental veneers are one such treatment, and can be used to drastically improve the shape and colour of your teeth. The treatment works by filing away a part of your original tooth and covering it with a custom-made porcelain cap. Composite veneers can also achieve the same effect, but instead of a cap, the dentist reshapes the original tooth with composite resin. The result is a whiter smile and perfectly shaped teeth.
How Do Porcelain Veneers Work?
Porcelain is a ceramic made by a type of clay at temperatures of up to 1400 Celsius. The translucent and strong qualities of the minerals within the porcelain can only be formed at such high temperatures. This type of veneer is then easily shaped into a thin cap and fitted over the tooth.
To make sure the veneer can be bonded permanently in place, the outer enamel surface of the original tooth is removed. The dentist only removes a tiny amount of enamel the same thickness of the veneer so that the tooth remains the same size. The patient won’t feel much discomfort as local anaesthetic is used.
Once the tooth is fully prepared, the dentist will take a mould along with any relevant information needed to make a suitable veneer. The new veneer must be the same colour as the surrounding teeth, otherwise it won’t look natural.
People often prefer veneers as they look natural and healthy. Because they’re very thin films that are held in place by special adhesives, only a small preparation of the tooth is needed. However, some types of veneers don’t require any preparation and only take two visits to complete. The first visit is to prepare and take the ‘impression’ of the tooth, and the second visit is to fit the veneer. Your dentist should show you the veneer on your tooth prior to fitting it in order to make sure you’re happy with it.
How Long Do They Last?
Porcelain veneers can last for between 10-30 years, but they do require maintenance such as good oral hygiene and not biting on hard foods. Their transparent coating means they are a great alternative for tooth enamel and look entirely natural in the mouth. Although they don’t require much maintenance, there are simple rules that help prolong your veneers. These include regularly brushing and flossing them same way you would treat your natural teeth.
You should also pay a regular visit to your dentist for follow-up checks and professional polishing treatments. The hygienist uses a special, non-abrasive paste to polish your veneers in order to keep them clean and shiny. For those people who have a habit of grinding their teeth, there are special mouth guards that help protect the porcelain veneer from getting damaged or broken. You should wear the mouth guard whenever you’re playing sports or doing anything that could break them off.
The benefit of composite and porcelain veneers is that they don’t require much alteration when it comes to the mouth and teeth structure. Most people tend to opt for porcelain veneers because their original teeth have become discoloured or developed contours which are prone to staining. These types of veneers are ideal for fractured teeth, gaps between the front teeth, and in many situations where the position of the tooth is compromised.
When superficial stains that are caused by drinking coffee, wine, or tea don’t respond well to bleaching or whitening, it may be best to opt for porcelain veneers. Teeth that become discoloured due to root canal treatment or excessive use of fluoride also respond well to veneers. If your teeth are chipped or broken, misaligned, or irregularly shaped, you should consider having veneers fitted. Just make sure you see a qualified cosmetic dentist who has done this type of dental procedure before.
How Much Do They Cost?
The cost of dental veneers can vary greatly depending on the dentist as well as the brand of veneer. For example, Lumineers are made from cerinate porcelain and much thinner than standard ones. The price for this type of veneer varies between £400 and £800 per tooth. Non-brand veneers can cost around £300, depending on the dentist’s skill. However, a specialist in cosmetic dentistry can charge up to £1500 per tooth. It’s best to discuss your options with a qualified dental expert before undergoing this procedure.
Stuart Young is the lead writer and owner of The Dental Guide. We aim to educate patients about routine and cosmetic dental treatments to help them understand the procedures and costs involved.
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