Porcelain Veneers for Teeth: Understanding the Steps
By Mina Levi, DDS, 05/01/2014

Porcelain veneers are cosmetically available to fix dental issues such as discolored teeth, teeth that are worn down, chipped or broken teeth, and irregularly shaped teeth. When a person is deciding to get porcelain veneers for teeth, it is very important that they understand the steps involved so that they can make the best decision possible for their oral health. In this article, we discuss the steps of traditional porcelain veneers and any concerns that a person should be aware of.

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Step One: Treatment Planning
The first step in any dental procedure, whether it’s restorative dentistry or cosmetic dentistry, is treatment planning. It is important for the patient to explain to the dentist what their cosmetic goals are to see if porcelain veneers are a right fit and the best possible option. The dentist will examine the teeth and the overall oral health and decide if dental veneers are an appropriate treatment option both to reach your personal goals as well as maintaining optimal health in the mouth. The patient and the dentist will then discuss the pros and cons of dental veneers, and then the dentist will take X-rays and impressions of your teeth. These impressions can be sent to a dental laboratory before the veneers have been prepped and the lab will manufacture what is called a wax-up. This wax-up is a model of the teeth with wax veneers, to show the patient what their teeth will look like with the porcelain veneers. Once the patient has decided that veneers are the right option, the patient will decide if he or she is happy with the color of their teeth as whitening options such asZoom whitening will need to be completed before the next step in the dental veneers process begins.

Step Two: Preparation of the Teeth
To prepare the teeth for the porcelain veneersthe dentist will need to take off some of the tooth enamel. Most of the time this removal is up to about .5 millimeters of tooth enamel, which will equal the thickness of the veneer to be placed. This is done so that the veneers look natural rather than too bulky. The removal of enamel may require the application of a topical or local anesthetic. Next, the dentist will take impressions of your teeth to make models for the dental laboratory to use in order to create the custom veneers. Temporaries will be placed on the teeth if necessary for the 2-3 weeks during which the laboratory is fabricating the dental veneers. If the removal of dental enamel is an issue or concern, the other option is to go with the Lumineers, which are very thin veneers and require little removal of enamel.

Step Three: Cementing
When the patient comes in for their dental veneer cementing appointment, the dentist will first try the veneers onto the teeth to make sure that the veneersfit as well as analyze that the color matches well with the natural tooth. Then, the teeth will be cleaned, polished and etched, which roughens the surface of the tooth to make the bonding process more successful and strong. A cement substance is applied to the veneers and then they are applied to the teeth one at a time. Once they are properly positioned onto the surface of the teeth, the dentist will apply a blue light which activates the cement and causes it to harden and adhere the veneers permanently to the tooth. Once the veneers are bonded, the dentist will take time to remove any excess cement material as well as adjust the dental veneers so that the bite feels natural. The dentist may have the patient come back into the office after a few weeks to check on the bite as well as see how the gum tissue is reacting to the veneers being placed.

Dental veneers are a great cosmetic option for a wide range of dental issues. If you are interested or have questions about porcelain dental veneers or the process, visit Dr. Mina Levi DDS on the web at www.minalevidds.com or give us a call at (415) 513-5066.