Procelain Veneers – What are They?
Porcelain Veneers, what are they anyhow? Dentists often speak a different language. That is how we are trained in dental school. We sometimes forget that this technical jargon really means very little to our patients, so let me break it down for you.
A “veneer” is a covering over a tooth. Just like a veneer floor is a covering over a floor. It is a very generic term. Veneers can be made of of porcelain or plastic/composite. The goal of a veneer is to change the shape, color and function of the tooth.
Now, there are many brand names such as Lumineers, Da Vinci veneers, Cerinate veneers, to just name a few. They are essentially the same things, veneers.
Patients come to see me all the time wanting “veneers”. That is misleading, since nobody wants veneers, but rather a good looking smile. Veneers is just one way to get there, and not always the best. Everybody has seen some pretty bad veneers…Chiclets.
Since there is no specialty in cosmetic dentistry, dentists can not advertise that they specialize in cosmetic dentistry. We are all essentially general dentists. Some of us have continued our education in cosmetic dentistry past the normal level, such as becoming accredited with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. This shows that the dentist has achieved a high level of competency in cosmetic dentistry and is most likely able to provide you with the smile you are looking for. This advanced training requires the understanding that veneers are just one way to achieve a better smile.
Now back to veneers.
Veneers are bonded to the tooth, permanently. Once a veneer is bonded onto a tooth you can not remove it without destroying the veneer. The veneer becomes part of the tooth. The do not “pop off” as many patients ask me. If a veneer comes off then there is a serious reason for it. It is very rare. Not everybody is a candidate for veneers, so case selection is also very important.
Porcelain veneers do not stain, but the tooth below the veneer can. This means that although the porcelain itself does not discolor, it is very thin and is affected by the tooth below it. Usually only minimal change in color is seen over time.
Composite, or plastic veneers do stain. That is the main difference between composite and porcelain.
Now, that being said, veneers are a great way to rejuvenate your smile. Designed correctly and maintained properly veneers can make a life changing difference.