The Placement of Dental Veneers

We’ve come a long way from the time that the only option available to us when a front tooth chipped or broke was a cap.  The crude making of this was obvious and made the tooth larger than normal.  More importantly, the tooth was ground down to a small spike, never accessible to any other treatment options again.

Now that our technology has been finely honed, the making and placement of veneers gives the appearance of a normal tooth (sometimes far better than the normal tooth!)

First the teeth must be thoroughly examined for any cavities or surrounding gingival inflammation.  If either exists, immediate attention and treatment must be paid to this first.

Once the tooth is determined to be healthy, the dentist will prepare the tooth for the eventual veneer placement.  Veneers can be placed on one tooth or many.  If the purpose of the veneers is to whiten the smile, then it is advisable to have the veneers applied to all the teeth that are visible in the front.  Usually at least 8 teeth are done on both the upper and lower levels.

Tooth Preparation

Porcelain veneers are only placed on one side of the tooth- the front surface. This front surface needs to be prepared by being shaving the facade to around the same thickness as that of the veneer itself.  In doing so, the tooth size will not be noticeably changed.

Typically the tooth enamel is trimmed very thinly, approximately one half to .7 millimeters, which is very small, compared to other dental processes.  The use of a local anesthetic can be used, depending on the pain threshold of the patient.

Making an Impression

Once the tooth enamel has been trimmed, an impression will be made of the tooth by creating a mold with putty and then the patient bites into the soft material, which then hardens.  Alternately, an impression can be made with a camera that takes measurements optically. The camera is attached to a “milling” machine that then makes the veneer.  Creating the veneer this way allows for manufacture and placement during one office visit instead of two.

Most dentists, feeling that the appearance and shape is better, consider having a putty impression, which is sent to a lab whereupon the veneer is made, the superior technique.

It’s only Temporary

Once the teeth that will be receiving the veneers have been prepared, they will have a rough surface, which may be uncomfortable for contact with the tongue. In addition, the prepared teeth may exhibit sensitivity to temperature extremes (hot and cold).

To avoid both of these issues, a temporary veneer is placed over the teeth as a protective covering while waiting for the permanent veneer.

If the Tooth Fits

The permanent veneer will be examined and assessed by the dentist and trimmed repeatedly until the fit is deemed appropriate.  The veneer is cemented into the proper position and ground down to the exact measurements desired by the dentist. Bonding is then performed, followed by cleaning and polishing.

Your bite will be evaluated to ensure a good fit and then it’s ready for use giving you not only tooth strength and durability but also that dazzling smile!