Porcelain veneers are a widely-used cosmetic dental treatment designed to conceal aesthetic imperfections and to provide a beautiful smile. Veneers were developed in 1928 by a California dentist, Dr. Charles Pincus, during the early days of the Hollywood film industry as a way of enhancing the actors’ on-screen smiles. Dr. Pincus would apply temporary, false fronts to actors’ teeth before a scene was shot and would then remove them later. These stunning smiles quickly became a Hollywood trademark. But, it wasn’t until the early 1980s that J.R. Calamia and R.J. Simonsen made the application of veneers both longer-lasting and more easily accessible to everyone. Veneers have come a long way since the 1980s, but there are still many misconceptions about them.
Here are some of the common myths and misconceptions about veneers.
MYTH #1: Veneers look fake
Somewhere along the line, veneers became known as “chicklet teeth” because of their unnatural appearance (think Matt Dillon’s character in the movie, There’s Something About Mary). They were too big, too thick, too white, too straight, and just overall…too fake! Another possibility for this myth is that the person sporting the veneers may have had some gum recession occur since the original application of the veneers. In this case, the enamel (or the root of the tooth) would have been exposed and possibly stained, making the difference between the existing tooth enamel and the porcelain quite obvious. Or, maybe the person just didn’t properly care for their veneers and they became dingy and damaged over time. Whatever the reason, you don’t want someone to think “Wow…those are fake teeth!” when they see you smile. You want them to think “What a beautiful smile!,” and that is something that Dr. Jana Harrison and Millennium Dental can do for you.
Well done veneers—when applied by a dentist who’s experienced in cosmetic dentistry—look natural and are designed to fit each person’s individual face. Just like no two people are alike, no two veneer applications are alike either. Getting it right requires skill and artistry, while also understanding the science behind the procedure. Snap-on smiles from the early days of Hollywood are no more, due to the great advancements in technology.
Dr. Harrison spends time with each patient, customizing the size, shape, and color of their veneers based on their personal goals for their smile. Your veneers can be bright white or a more natural color. Some patients who want a very natural appearance decide to incorporate minor imperfections into their veneers. Veneer size is somewhat determined by both the shape and size of your face and your natural teeth, but your veneers can be custom-sized to suit your preference.
MYTH #2: Veneers are for everyone
Veneers are a popular cosmetic dental enhancement used by many people…from actors and athletes to “regular” people. While veneers are technically accessible to everyone, there are some things that could limit your ability to get veneers…at least temporarily. The health of your teeth and gums is something that needs to be considered before you have any kind of cosmetic procedure performed (even teeth whitening). If you have tooth decay, gum disease, or any kind of infection, this will prevent you from getting veneers since these conditions must first be healed before a cosmetic procedure can be completed. Dr. Harrison will treat any dental health issue you may have, restoring your smile to total health.
If your current dental health is good, you can begin your veneers treatment. Otherwise, Dr. Harrison will create a plan to first restore your smile to its optimal health. If, for any reason, you don’t qualify for veneers, she will recommend alternative treatments.
MYTH #3: Veneers stain
Porcelain veneers are not porous like tooth enamel, which can be easily stained by red wine, coffee, tea, and other foods. So, unlike tooth enamel, porcelain does not stain. That’s one reason why veneers are a popular option for someone who wants to brighten their smile. If you are a regular coffee drinker, your teeth will stain again over time, even after a whitening treatment, meaning you’ll need more frequent upkeep. But, with porcelain veneers, your white smile will be much longer lasting.
Gum recession could be another reason why people think veneers stain. It’s not actually the porcelain veneer that is stained; it’s the natural tooth, or root, that is now exposed as your gums recede. So, when your natural tooth is exposed, it can absorb the coffee, red wine, and tea you’re drinking, leaving your original tooth stained, while your porcelain veneers remain white. It’s important to stay vigilant about gum recession, which is why your dental hygienist will check this at every hygiene visit, giving you tips on proper brushing so you don’t exacerbate any the recession.
In addition to being stain resistant, porcelain veneers are also highly durable. They even have a translucent element that gives them a more toothlike aesthetic. Alternative veneers are made with a composite material that is cheaper and more porous, meaning more likely to stain or chip. While this option is cheaper, the quality of the finished product is exactly that as well. And, you may need to make adjustments to your diet in order to avoid staining of your composite veneers. Porcelain veneers provide a high-quality option that is both long-lasting and beautifully natural, which is why Dr. Harrison uses only porcelain veneers. With advancements in technology, a complete set of porcelain veneers can be completed in just a couple of visits.
MYTH #4: Veneers are only for front teeth
The most common placement of veneers is on the upper front teeth—frequently referred to as “the social six”—but that’s not the only place where veneers can be used. They are often placed on premolars and on lower front teeth as well, in order to provide a complete smile enhancement. Placing veneers on all teeth that are seen when you smile big is the preferred option because most people show eight upper teeth when they smile and at least six lower teeth when talking. The total number of veneers you need will depend on your unique smile and on how many of your teeth show when smiling.
MYTH #5: I have to shave down my teeth to get veneers
If you’re imagining your natural tooth being filed down to a nub before the veneer is placed, don’t stress because, thankfully, that’s not the reality of veneer prep. In order to properly adhere the porcelain veneer to your tooth, your dentist will prepare that tooth by lightly filing the tooth enamel (but only about one millimeter of it). This allows the veneer to better adhere to your tooth and for it to appear more natural and not too bulky. So, while it’s true that some preparation of the tooth is needed for veneers, the overall tooth structure will be maintained.
MYTH #6: Veneers will weaken my teeth
It’s a natural assumption to think that veneers will weaken your teeth, considering how many people believe Myth #5, but the opposite is actually true. Since one millimeter or less of enamel is removed from your tooth, most of the tooth remains, and applying the porcelain veneer can, in fact, even provide added protection to your tooth. Porcelain is a very strong and durable material that is even resistant to bruxism (clenching and grinding your teeth during sleep)—though we do recommend that patients wear a nightguard if they suffer from bruxism.
Contact Millennium Dental today to schedule a consultation to discuss your smile goals and how veneers could contribute to your cosmetic smile solution!
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