Porcelain veneers, also known as dental porcelain laminates, or dental veneers, are an excellent and esthetically pleasing way to improve the appearance of chipped, discolored, misaligned or otherwise unsightly teeth.
Porcelain veneers, a more recent addition to the already popular dental bonding industry, are a micro thin porcelain laminate, that when bonded to the front surface of the tooth creates an extremely natural and healthy looking appearance. Normally, porcelain may be quite brittle and provide very little usable strength. However, when the porcelain veneer is bonded to the tooth it becomes exceptionally strong and holds up to tremendous crushing power.
There are two distinct advantages that porcelain veneers have over other common dental bonding procedures. Primarily, porcelain veneers have a very natural looking appearance. Just like regular tooth enamel, porcelain veneers have translucent properties when exposed to light. When light hits them, rather than immediately reflecting the light off the surface of the porcelain, it allows light to pass directly through. The light continues through the entire tooth enamel until it reaches the tooth dentin. It is here, at the tooth dentin that the light is actually reflected back out of the tooth. This translucent property that porcelain veneers share with natural tooth enamel is essentially what creates its natural looking appearance.
The second distinct advantage to having porcelain veneers versus other veneers is its inherent resistance to staining. In the past, people that consume tobacco, tea, coffee, red wine or other common staining agents have found it to be very difficult to keep dental bonding work clean and stain free. Porcelain veneers are ceramic and glass like and therefore are extremely resistant when exposed to all sorts of staining agents.
Generally, the procedure for installing porcelain veneers is quite simple. First, the dentist prepares the tooth area by lightly buffing the front, reducing the tooth elevation approximately .5mm to adequately make space for the porcelain veneer. (Without that reduction, the tooth may appear too thick and elevated against the lip). Next, a cast is taken of the prepared teeth, which is then sent to a dental technician. With the cast, the dental technician is able to custom create and shape each porcelain veneer that is to be placed. Finally, the porcelain veneer bonded to the prepared surface of the tooth, creating a truly luminous and natural looking appearance.
There are many different reasons why someone may be considering porcelain veneers as a cosmetic solution to problematic teeth. Each reason or possible course of action should be discussed further with your dentist.