Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Getting Veneers

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Getting Veneers featured image
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This article first appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of New Beauty. Click here to subscribe

When you’re ready to upgrade your smile, Hollywood’s best kept secret might be exactly what you need. Veneers are the permanent upgrade behind some of the best smiles in celebrity. And these days, the process is easier and more streamlined than ever before. With the complete process usually taking as little as a few weeks, the masters behind the process of smile design and porcelain veneer creation can take your smile to the next level. And they gave us an inside look at the process, offering a step-by-step guide to getting veneers.

The Consultation:

How do you know you need veneers?

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.

You may be a good candidate for veneers if your teeth are damaged past the point of restoration.

“Once your teeth are past restoration, there are reparative procedures that dentists can offer you such as dental bonding, porcelain veneers, and crowns,” says New York cosmetic dentist Victoria Veytsman, DDS. “Dental bonding includes applying a dental resin to damaged teeth to help protect and prevent future damage, but for more serious situations, porcelain veneers and crowns can be installed to replace the damaged tooth.”

Your dentist will help you determine the best avenue forward. And if you seem like a good fit for veneers, your dentist’s next job is to design the your new smile.

“When we go through the planning process of what I call my smile architectural design, we take a lot of photographs, and digitally scan patients faces their current team,” explains Los Altos, CA cosmetic dentist Joseph Field, DDS. “We design things based on their mouth, their lips, their face.”

A Temporary Smile

What is it like to get temporary veneers?

After the dental team’s initial analyses, your dentist will give you a temporary form of veneers. These are often made from a malleable, mouth-safe putty called polyvinyl siloxane, according to Washington, D.C. cosmetic dentist Michael Katsaros, DDS. Temporaries 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.”

“Temporary veneers are an important part of the process,” Dr. Field explains. “I like to give my patients a chance to test drive your smile, make sure everything’s the way we want it to be and to make any potential changes.”

Your Permanent Smile

How are porcelain veneers made?

During this time, it’s likely that a master ceramist is hard at work, handcrafting each veneer. This 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.”

Prep or No-Prep Veneers?

Veneers come in a couple different types. Which kind you’ll qualify for really depends on the state of your current teeth. The “prep” part refers to whether or not your natural tooth needs to be shaved down to make room for the ultrathin porcelain that functions as a veneer. That doesn’t make prep veneers a bad option, though. They aren’t actually going to shave your teeth down to nothing.

“The teeth do not need to be shaved down to pegs,” Dr. Almunajed explains, noting that porcelain veneers are minimally invasive by design. “When done well with the occasional no-prep veneer, there’s no tooth reduction.”

No-prep veneers are definitely appealing, but the drawback to their super thin profile is that they don’t work for every case.

“If you have misaligned teeth or naturally large or bulky teeth, it may not be possible to treat you with no-prep veneers. Some trimming and preparation would be required to make your smile look its best,” says Houston cosmetic dentist, Guy M. Lewis, DDS. “If there are dark stains on the teeth, the thin porcelain may not adequately conceal the discoloration completely.”

What is it like to get veneers?

The Placement

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.”

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.

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