While misaligned teeth are an extremely common issue for a high number of individuals, the effect they have on people can result in them having a poor quality of life due to reduced confidence and reluctance to take part in public speaking or busy social events.
But, the increasing popularity and accessibility of cosmetic dentistry – possibly brought about by its emerging publicity – has allowed many regular individuals to take this course of action to improve their self-esteem and enjoy the benefits of straighter teeth.
Dental veneers have been used to create a smile makeover that can transform crooked, stained, damaged or worn pearly whites for many years, creating a smile that would not go amiss on the red carpets of Hollywood.
This type of cosmetic dentistry revolves around the use of wafer-thin laminates of tooth-coloured material – normally produced using porcelain, ceramic or composite bonding products – that are cemented to the front of the teeth.
Dental veneers can improve a number of problems regarding the appearance of teeth. These include:
Damaged teeth – those that have become badly worn through grinding during the night or an unhealthy diet that consists of too many sugary foods and drinks can be fixed with veneers. Similarly, small chips or cavities that have emerged can be repaired with composite bonding, while a single damaged pearly white can be replaced with a porcelain veneer, which possesses similar characteristics as the natural tooth.
Stained teeth – severely discoloured teeth that cannot be improved with alternative cosmetic dentistry can be transformed with dental veneers that can cover any existing stains that are found on the teeth.
Crooked teeth – while dental veneers may not be the ideal treatment for misaligned pearly whites – where orthodontics would be a more viable solution – they can significantly improved those that are not severely uneven. Films placed over the front surface of these teeth can create a straight and perfectly-aligned smile.
Gapped teeth – spaces that emerge between the pearly whites over time (or those that have been present since eruption) can be closed using this course of action, creating a straighter, more uniform-looking smile.
Initially, patients will be asked to attend an introductory dental examination to allow the practitioner to look at the teeth and discuss methods in which they can be improved. During this appointment, it is advised individuals raise any causes for concern with their dentist – as well as any questions about the cost of the procedure.
Following this consultation, the front surfaces of the pearly whites are reshaped to prepare for the application of the veneers. This process will be carried out using a local anaesthetic that numbs the pearly whites and their surrounding gums to alleviate the chance of feeling any pain or discomfort.
The dental professional will shave off a tiny section of the tooth using a specially designed drill, while the amount that is removed is usually similar to the size of the veneer that is set to sit over the top of the tooth.
An impression of the mouth is then created with the use of dental putty that has been pushed against the area to make an imprint. When this has been sent to the laboratory, the mould is utilised to create an accurate representation that will be the basis from which the veneers are manufactured.
While this process can take between one and three weeks, many dental professionals will provide temporary replacements for the natural teeth that have been shaved down to prepare for the new fixtures.
The second appointment will see the practitioner fit the new veneers to the pearly whites, which are usually cleaned thoroughly and roughened with a special acid gel to provide the optimum surface for the dental cement to be utilised.
Following this, the veneers are attached using a curing light that activates the adhesive to permanently bond the file to the front surface of the prepared tooth. Any excess cement is then trimmed away and polished to leave an attractive and natural-looking restoration.
Porcelain fixtures usually last between five and ten years, while composite options last one or two years at the most. Unfortunately, all patients will need to have the installations replaced at some point in the future.
Although the devices are cemented into place, they can come loose and fall off. If this occurs, patients should keep hold of the film and contact their cosmetic dentist immediately.
An effective daily oral health routine is vital to ensuring dental veneers last as long as possible and remain as attractive as they were after the day they were fitted.
While the installations are usually extremely durable, patients may find they become chipped, cracked or broken and require urgent attention from a dental professional. This is when a number of factors come into play concerning the course of action that will be taken depending on the extent of the issue.
The age, type and location within the mouth all need to be considered by a dental professional in order to create a viable solution.
Initially, individuals should ensure they visit their dentist as soon as they can if a chip or fissure is noticed on the film, as the longer it is left, the more often the installation will become damaged beyond repair.
Patients are advised to ask their dentist about the possibility of applying dental composite over the broken veneer to resolve the issue, which is more appropriate for those that have broken at the back of the mouth.
Following this, many dental practitioners will recommend the damaged installation is replaced. Although this may seem like a drastic solution to a small problem, veneers are usually replaced after ten or 15 years regardless, so the solution could provide benefits for members of the public.
Wearers are advised to be prepared for the existing fitting to be ground down to make way for a new one. This course of action often requires the use of local anaesthetic – particularly in cases where the veneer was damaged in areas close to the gum line, which could call for more than one visit to the dental practice if a practitioner needs to match the original shade.
Some patients may be lucky enough to have their broken fixture repaired in a matter of minutes using light-cured composites, which require a light or laser in order to cement into place.