Everyone wants whiter teeth. In the United States, patients spend $1.4 million on whitening procedures alone, ranging from basic chemical whitening trays to laser-activated in-office procedures. In extreme cases, patients can even undergo full dental replacements on titanium implants. But if you fall somewhere in between (i.e. if your teeth show some visible decay that chemical whitening can’t hide, but are otherwise healthy and strong), then porcelain veneers may be the perfect solution.
Porcelain veneers are exactly what they sound like — false, porcelain fronts installed over your existing teeth. Picture the false store fronts on a movie set for an old Western. Veneers will not only cover decay spots or badly stained teeth, but they’ll also in effect seal off the tooth from further damage.
The process is fairly straightforward. A patient receives a series of dental exams, which gauge everything from enamel strength to root health. Dental molds are taken so the veneer (or veneers) can be created to exactly match the tooth it’s replacing, including shape, size, and shade. Then a thin layer of enamel (usually around a millimeter is removed from the existing tooth, so that the veneer doesn’t protrude farther out than the surrounding teeth.
The porcelain veneers are created and bonded to the tooth, and the patient’s smile is instantly restored to its former glory. For patients who might find cosmetic dentistry too expensive at first glance, veneers can also be made from a composite resin, which may make the procedure more affordable. Be advised, however, that porcelain veneers are inherently stronger than the plastic ones, and will therefore last longer.
Porcelain veneers are a great middle ground between general whitening and full implant-based replacement. If you’re self-conscious about your teeth because of unsightly decay spots, ask your dentist about veneers, so you can stop hiding your smile from the world.