Caring for Porcelain Veneers

How to Take Care of Your Porcelain Veneers

Porcelain veneers are the darling of cosmetic dentists all over the country. Why? Because they offer snappy results for the time-crunched patient looking for a smile makeover that looks and feels natural. Veneers enable patients to bypass dental surgery or years in braces, and they provide the versatility that lends itself to customization. In fact, porcelain veneers applications have surged 250% in the United States since 2006, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

These thin-profile dental shells are permanently bonded to teeth, masking stains and camouflaging teeth worn down from nocturnal clenching. Gaps can be hidden, cracks can be covered, and color can be corrected. With dental veneers, dentists can produce the illusion that misshapen and crooked teeth are straight.

Veneers provide the aesthetic correction of full crowns – minus the invasive removal of large amounts of tooth material and the possible impact that can have on adjacent pulp and periodontal tissue. Many dentists consider porcelain veneers a great improvement over composite resin veneers, which are susceptible to marginal fractures, wear and tear and discoloration. The results, however, depend largely on the materials used and the skill and artistry of the cosmetic dentist, who must balance color, opacity and porcelain thickness with the hue of the underlying tooth and the thickness of the luting composite.

Yes, the results can be quite spectacular, but a good dentist wants more than just momentary happiness. A good dentist selects a porcelain laminate best suited for each individual, based on their dental history, age, lifestyle and aesthetic goals. A good dentist wants to deliver a long-term solution. Apprising patients about the ABCs of dental veneer care will help them make informed decisions before going ahead with the procedure and may help them with the lifestyle changes needed to protect their dental investment.

High-quality dental veneers typically will last 10-15 years, depending on oral hygiene, gentleness of care, and adherence to dietary restrictions. Regular checkups will ensure that the veneers stay looking their best. Checkups will help identify potential problems in the early stages before the veneers are irreparably damaged or before underlying tooth structure is compromised. No one wants to have to shell out the price of porcelain veneers more often than necessary. So think of six-month checkups like baby well-checks. They will keep your smile healthy and your wallet relatively happy.

At-Home Care for Your Veneers

Whether your smile is 100 percent natural or you have a few ceramic laminates or crowns, the American Dental Association recommends that consumers brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss regularly. Veneer wearers should use gentle toothpastes that do not contain any abrasive components. This will keep the veneers from getting scratched and will optimize the balance between light reflection and translucency – one of the qualities that keep dental work looking natural.

Porcelain Veneers Require TLC

To further protect your investment, follow these tips to maximize longevity of porcelain veneers:

  • Do not use your teeth to open packaging
  • Wear a mouth guard for sporting activities
  • Wear a night guard if you are prone to bruxism
  • Use a soft-bristled brush and a gentle touch
  • Avoid chewing fingernails, ice, toothpicks, etc.
  • Use a knife – not your front teeth – to make foods bite sized
  • Always wear a seatbelt with a shoulder strap
  • Avoid beverages or mouthwash with alcohol, which can damage bonding
  • Kick your tobacco habit
  • Only use neutral sodium fluoride treatments, as stannous and acidulated phosphate fluorides may cause etching
  • Do not let a hygienist use power polishing sprays on your veneers as it could damage the glaze
  • Do not use abrasive toothpastes. Porcelain is durable, but the thin line of bonding composite exposed at the edge of the veneers could be damaged.
  • Contact your dentist immediately if you see any changes with your veneers

Making dietary changes will lower the risk of damaging your veneers or composite lamimates, too. Choose white grape juice over purple Concord variety juice, for example, to minimize staining. Drink clear colas instead of sodas laced with food coloring…white wine versus red…cilantro and onion versus curry…an herbal green tea versus black coffee…and so on. Eat shelled pistachios, rather than cracking them open with your teeth. Opt for a soft flatbread rather than a double-decker sandwich on chewy, crusty bread that requires a twisting bite to tear off mouthfuls. Studies show that torqueing movements are what typically damage veneers. Cut corn off the cob before eating, and skip the peanut brittle. You get the gist. A little vigilance will go a long way to protect your veneers.

While lifestyle changes may seem like a hassle, most patients gladly give up old habits to gain a smile that they’ve always wanted. If you think bonded porcelain veneers are for you, please call to schedule a consultation.

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