A big, bright smile can be a powerful tool. It can convey warmth, friendliness, and confidence. Indeed, our smile often serves as a first impression, making it a vital aspect of our overall appearance and self-esteem. Many of us strive for that perfect set of pearly whites – symmetrical, stain-free, and radiant.
The dental industry has responded to our pursuit of the perfect smile with a plethora of products and procedures designed to enhance our teeth’s appearance. From whitening strips and toothpaste to braces and dental implants, there are numerous methods available to help us achieve our desired smiles. One common and increasingly popular option is dental veneers. However, despite their popularity, questions have been raised about the long-term impact of veneers on our natural teeth.
What Are Veneers and How Do They Work?
Veneers are thin, custom-made shells made of porcelain or composite resin that cover the front surface of your teeth. They are intended to look like natural teeth while providing strength and resilience comparable to natural tooth enamel. They’re often used to fix discolored, worn down, chipped, broken, misaligned, uneven, irregularly shaped teeth, or to close gaps between teeth.
Veneers are typically obtained through three visits to the dentist: one for a consultation and two for the fabrication and application of the veneers. To prepare a tooth for a veneer, your dentist will remove about 1/2 millimeter of enamel from the tooth surface, which is nearly equal to the thickness of the veneer to be added. Following that, your dentist will take an impression of your tooth to be used in the dental lab to create your veneer.
The Controversy: Do Veneers Ruin Your Teeth?
Despite the advantages veneers offer, some critics argue that they can ruin your teeth. This belief stems primarily from the fact that a thin layer of natural tooth enamel must be removed to make room for the veneer. This enamel does not regrow after it is removed, indicating that the process is irreversible. Because of the enamel removal, some people may experience sensitivity to hot or cold after getting veneers.
However, it’s important to note that veneers themselves don’t ‘ruin’ your teeth. In fact, they’re meant to protect them. Any potential damage to the teeth during the application process is usually due to an inexperienced dentist, not the veneers themselves.
Along with the concern about ruining natural teeth, there are other myths associated with veneers. Let’s debunk a few:
Myth 1: Veneers Cause Cavities
Truth: Veneers themselves don’t cause cavities. However, the natural teeth beneath the veneers are still susceptible to decay, especially at the border where the veneer ends. This is why maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial even with veneers.
Myth 2: Veneers Lead to Constant Throbbing Pain
Truth: While some discomfort or sensitivity is normal immediately after the veneer procedure, persistent throbbing pain isn’t typical. If you experience such pain, it may indicate an underlying issue like an infection or a poorly fitted veneer, and you should consult your dentist immediately.
Myth 3: Veneers Feel Uncomfortable or Unnatural
Truth: Quality veneers, when properly fitted and applied by an experienced cosmetic dentist, should feel comfortable and natural. They are designed to look and feel like your natural teeth. Any initial weirdness usually disappears within a few days as you become accustomed to the feel of your new smile.
Remember that veneers are a medical procedure, so speak with a dental professional if you have any concerns or questions. They can give you accurate information based on your unique situation and dental health.
What to Expect When Getting Veneers
Deciding to get veneers can be an exciting step towards achieving the smile you’ve always wanted. However, it’s essential to know what the process entails and what to expect during each step. Here’s a general overview:
Step 1: Consultation and Planning
The first step is to consult with your dentist to see if veneers are the best solution for your dental issues. This typically involves a thorough oral examination, discussion about your cosmetic goals, and possibly X-rays or impressions of your mouth and teeth.
Step 2: Preparation
Once you and your dentist have decided on veneers, the preparation phase begins. Your dentist will remove about 0.5 millimeters of enamel from the surface of your teeth, which is roughly the thickness of the veneer that will be applied. This procedure may necessitate the use of local anesthesia. Following that, your dentist will create a model or impression of your tooth, which will be sent to a dental laboratory, which will fabricate your veneer. This process usually takes 2-4 weeks.
Step 3: Bonding
Before permanently affixing the veneer to your tooth, your dentist will temporarily place it to ensure proper fit and color. They may need to remove and trim the veneer to achieve the proper fit. The color can be changed by changing the shade of cement used. After ensuring that everything is in order, your tooth will be cleaned, polished, and etched (roughened) to allow for strong bonding.
A special cement is applied to the veneer before it is applied to your tooth. Once the veneer has been properly positioned, your dentist will use a special light beam to activate chemicals in the cement, causing it to harden quickly.
Step 4: Follow-up
A follow-up appointment in a few weeks may be scheduled to assess how your gums are reacting to the presence of your veneer and to examine its placement.
Because the thin layer of enamel is being removed, you should expect some sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures throughout the procedure. This sensitivity typically disappears in a few days. If the discomfort becomes unbearable, your dentist can advise you on pain management options.
Maximizing the Benefits of Veneers
In wrapping up, it’s imperative to highlight that the benefits of veneers can be maximized with appropriate care, making them a valuable investment in your smile. Oral hygiene is critical, which includes brushing at least twice a day, flossing on a regular basis, and using an antiseptic mouthwash. It is also a good idea to avoid biting down on hard foods or objects, such as ice or fingernails, to avoid damaging your veneers. Regular dental check-ups are also important because they can help identify any developing problems early on.
While it’s true that veneers involve some modification to your natural teeth, they don’t ‘ruin’ them when correctly applied. As with any medical procedure, consulting with a professionals like dentists and orthodontists to fully understand the potential risks and benefits is essential. In the end, veneers, when managed well, can offer a long-lasting, confident, and radiant smile.