While the full process of getting veneers can take between two and four weeks, according to Cupertino, CA cosmetic dentist Khalil Saghezchi, DDS, the process depends on the patient’s needs, limitations and budget.
The initial consultation typically involves a discussion with the dentist to determine goals (some patients will opt for partial veneers; others, full veneers), resources, time and what works best for the both of you. If your goals align with your doctor’s, this appointment may include diagnostics, although this can be done in a separate appointment. “Typically, what you can expect at the consultation is an exam, a checkup, X-rays, photographs, smile design fabrication, and a discussion of your goals to address your questions,“ says New York cosmetic dentist Husam Almunajed, DDS.
The Take-Home Test
After the dental team’s initial analyses, a temporary form of veneers—often made from a malleable, mouth-safe putty called polyvinyl siloxane, according to Washington, D.C. cosmetic dentist Michael Katsaros, DDS—can be used to fill the initial impression and create temporary teeth covers, like a simple sleeve that slides on over teeth, to test-drive the potential look. The dentist can then play with color and shape to provide a look that resembles the final veneers. “It’s almost like a caulk gun that comes in different mixes and shoots into the mold like an injectable,” says Dr. Katsaros of the polyvinyl siloxane. “We then place the hardened form on the patient’s teeth and lock it on to give them a prototype for their smile. Patients walk into the office that day with their regular smile—or at least the smile they want to change—and it turns into the smile they’ve been hoping for.”
This 56-year-old patient was concerned that her teeth did not match her smile, face and personality, and felt extremely self-conscious in public settings. Dr. Almunajed performed a full-smile makeover by reshaping her gingival architecture to fit new veneers, placing upper veneers and whitening the remaining teeth.
Behind the Scenes
During this time, it’s likely that a master ceramist is hard at work, handcrafting each veneer—a process that can take as many as eight hours per tooth, according to ceramist Jason Kim. At this point, the ceramist has considered all the data from the initial consult and determined the right shade—or rather, 40 shades—required to create the form. “It’s very sensitive, in a way, choosing what’s right for the patient,” Kim says. “Many things are involved in determining the color— sometimes even a patient’s lip condition can change the appearance. For example, maybe the lip is very thick and the teeth get a lot of shadows. In this case, we need to modify the brightness of that white.”
After a few days—or even a full week—of wearing the temporaries, the patient is ready for the final veneer placement. Temporaries are removed and any required modifications are made. “At this visit, an anesthetic may be used, and then the new veneers are fitted and cemented onto the teeth with a composite resin that bonds the veneers to tooth structure,” says New York cosmetic dentist Marc Lowenberg, DDS. “Once this is complete, we have the patient come back a week later to adjust their bite or occlusion of their new teeth. Usually one follow-up visit is all that is needed.”
The Final Form
In less than a week, your dentist may ask you to come in a final time to ensure everything works smoothly. “After the patient’s numbness goes away and they’ve had an opportunity to chew and function with them, patients come back for final photos, a bite check and any kind of adjustments that need to be made,” says Dr. Katsaros. “We can even alter their contour if they want to add some little characteristic changes.”
In pursuit of a revitalized smile, this 60-year-old patient sought Houston cosmetic dentist Guy M. Lewis, DDS for teeth that were in alignment and consistent with color. To address her concerns of “old-looking” teeth, Dr. Lewis placed porcelain veneers to create a youthful smile.
Veneers 101: Quick hits according to Wellington, FL cosmetic dentist Sam Sadati, DDS
Ideal patient: Any person with good oral health and hygiene who is unhappy with their smile and not a candidate for orthodontic treatment.
When to consider alignments instead: The first option for a smile design should be orthodontic treatment. However, if the shape and the condition of the teeth are not desirable, the patient would need to correct and repair them with restorations.
What to avoid: The rule of thumb is that anything you should not do with your natural teeth should not be done with veneers either.
When to whiten: We recommend that patients get their teeth whitened before the procedure, so that a brighter shade of veneers can be chosen. You can whiten your teeth after restorations, in order to remove any possible food and drink stains, but not to whiten the original shade of the porcelain.
Recovery: When a patient is wearing the provisional restoration while waiting for the final veneers to arrive from the lab, patients could experience some sensitivity. However, after the delivery of the final restorations, patients should be able to continue with their normal function.