What You Need to Know About Veneers

Veneers are porcelain shells that are permanently glued to the front of teeth, improving the overall look of your smile. Widely known benefits of veneers include changing the size and shape of teeth, closing gaps in between teeth and lightening discoloration. They also have some surprising advantages (and disadvantages). Here are five worth noting:

1. They can eliminate tooth sensitivity. 
"Tooth sensitivity is often caused by exposed roots or worn-through enamel," explains Los Altos, CA, cosmetic dentist Bruce Hartley, DDS. Another common cause? Cracks in teeth. "Veneering a tooth can cover exposed sensitive areas, and can reinforce cracked teeth, thereby eliminating sensitivity."

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2. They can change the shape of your face.
By placing veneers on the side teeth, a broader smiler and fuller-looking face is achieved. "Worn down teeth can also create folds near the sides of the nose to the corner of the mouth.  By building up the back teeth with bonded porcelains and lengthening the front teeth with veneers, these facial folds or wrinkles will disappear!" says Dr. Hartley.

3. You can still eat hard apples, but it's best to dice them up.
Dr. Hartley assures his patients veneers are strong enough to bite into any food, but stresses non-food items are a different story. "Veneers should not be used as tools to, for example, tear open a packet or bag or bite on fingernails."

4. Some veneers require less filing down of your original teeth.
If your teeth are generally straight and you have no issues with tooth decay, but are concerned about their size or small gaps between teeth, Dr. Hartley suggests prepless veneers. This drill-free technique requires very little or no tooth structure removed, and they last the same amount of time as traditional, porcelain veneers.

5. Porcelain veneers can last more than 10 years.
There is a chance of fracture or breakage with porcelain veneers, but, according to Dr. Hartley, this occurs to about only 5 percent of veneers places. "In almost 30 years of providing veneers, I find they can last decades," he says.

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