If your teeth are chipped, discolored, or oddly shaped, porcelain veneers can be an excellent solution. Veneers are a thin sheet of tooth-colored porcelain that your dentist attaches to the front of your teeth. They don't fix your teeth; instead they sit on top of them so that when someone looks at you, they see the veneers instead of your natural teeth. The process of having veneers put into place (and living with them afterwards) is pretty simple, but it's still helpful to know what to expect.
Your Consultation Appointment
If you're interested in veneers, the first thing you'll need to do is schedule a consultation appointment with a cosmetic dentist. At this appointment, your dentist will make sure you are a candidate for veneers. Most people are, but if you have existing tooth decay or very crooked teeth, your dentist may recommend additional treatments to improve your teeth before the veneers can be put into place. Veneers may also not be an option if you have very thin tooth enamel, since some of the enamel must be removed to apply the veneers.
At this first appointment, your dentist should also discuss the cost of veneers and your payment options. Costs vary widely from $500 to $1,000 per tooth, depending on your location and the extent of the damage you're trying to cover. Many dentists offer payment plans if you're not able to come up with the entire cost upfront.
Assuming your dentist approves you for veneers, he or she will then work with you to choose the color and shape of your veneers. You can choose bright, celebrity-like white, or a more subdued shade. If you've always wanted longer teeth, you can pick longer veneers. Your dentist can use some mock-up, trial veneers to allow you to see what you'd look like with various options.
Once you've settled on a style, your dentist will remove a thin layer or enamel from the front of the teeth that will be fitted with veneers. This procedure is not painful, but it can be a bit uncomfortable due to the vibrations of the drill. If necessary, your dentist can use a numbing agent to keep you comfortable. After the enamel is removed, your dentist will make an impression of your teeth. This will be sent to the lab along with your color and size preferences and used to make veneers that fit your teeth perfectly.
Your Placement Appointment
Once the veneers come in from the lab, your dentist will schedule an appointment to apply them. This procedure is really very simple and painless. Your dentist will set the veneers on your teeth to verify that they're the right size. Then he or she will apply a thin layer of dental cement and press the veneers into place. Within a few minutes, the cement will be cured. You can rinse your mouth and head home.
Adapting To Veneers
The first couple of days with veneers may present some minor challenges. You might find that your teeth are a little sensitive to hot and cold foods. This is due to the removal of the enamel. Brushing with a tooth sensitivity toothpaste will help. You will want to avoid crunchy and overly gummy foods, as these may cause your veneers to crack or break. Chewing might feel awkward for a couple of days, but you'll get used to it and will soon be able to eat all but the crunchiest foods (like peanut brittle and very hard pretzels).
It will be important to avoid grinding your teeth with veneers in place. If you think you might grind or clench your teeth at night, have your dentist fit you with a mouthguard. Otherwise, you might end up splitting a veneer.
As long as you keep brushing and flossing regularly, see your dentist for regular checkups, and avoid crunchy foods and tooth grinding, living with veneers should be simple. Enjoy your new smile.
For more information, contact a local cosmetic dentistry clinic.