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Porcelain Veneers, a lasting smile

A Conversation with Prosthodontist & Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Yueh-Tzu Huang

Porcelain veneers are thin pieces of porcelain used to recreate the natural look of teeth, while also providing strength and resilience comparable to natural tooth enamel.  Veneers are long lasting, beautiful, and create a smile patients feel proud to share.  Qualified cosmetic dentists are highly trained in providing stunning results using dental veneers.  In most cases, no one will even know that you have veneers on your teeth.  Dental veneers are a cosmetic dental treatment that can help you achieve the smile that you want.

Where do I start?

Porcelain Veneer application is a medical procedure and it is imperative you visit a qualified cosmetic dentist for a consultation.  Communication with your dentist is critical for a successful result so spend time clearly identifying the cosmetic improvements you seek.  While many celebrities have veneers and this may seem like the best way to replicate picture-perfect teeth, but each mouth is unique and porcelain veneers need to be carefully considered and planned with your dental health in mind.  Cosmetic dentists will usually begin with a smile analysis to determine the steps necessary to achieve the smile you desire. Your dentist may also show you a photo of how your new smile will look. In addition, your dentist may create a diagnostic mock-up that will allow you to “try on” veneers and other procedures to see if the final result is actually what you are looking for.

How do Porcelain Veneers Work?

Porcelain laminate veneers consist of a thin ceramic layer which replace original tooth enamel.  To apply a veneer, a tiny amount of the original tooth enamel must be removed, usually less than a millimeter.  This is essential as it creates room for the porcelain veneer to fit and most accurately restore natural tooth function while creating an enhanced aesthetic.  Porcelain veneers are desirable options in situations where the original tooth has developed poor color, shape, and contours.  It is also a preferable choice for fractured teeth, gaps between teeth, and superficial stains that do not respond well to tooth whitening or bleaching.

"No-Prep" and "Prepless" Veneers

No-Prep or Prepless veneers have gained the attention of patients looking for alternatives to conventional dental veneers, but be aware that this treatment option is not appropriate for everyone.  Just as with porcelain veneers, “no-prep” or minimal preparation veneers (because they typically don’t require removing as much tooth material) are bonded to the front surface of your teeth.  The placement of no-prep veneers can often be done more quickly than traditional veneers.  A qualified cosmetic dentist will let you know if you are a suitable candidate for minimal preparation or “no-prep” veneers and if this option makes a sensible treatment plan.

Pros and Cons of Porcelain Veneers

Dental veneers are individually sculpted for each patient.  Done properly, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between a veneer and a natural tooth.  Dental veneers can be designed to match your natural adjacent teeth or can be used to improve the aesthetics of your smile.  Dental veneers are made from a high-quality dental porcelain that reflects light like natural teeth.  The semi-translucent appearance helps veneers blend with your smile for natural results. 

Due to partial enamel reduction of the original tooth, a veneer is not a reversible treatment.  Although adjustments and even new veneers can be made, you can never return to the original condition of the tooth.  However, unlike natural teeth, veneers resist coffee and tea stains, and cigarette smoke because they are made of high-tech materials.  For teeth that resist whitening, or that are discolored, dental veneers can make even the darkest teeth appear bright white.  Patients with whiter, brighter smiles tend to smile more often and feel more confident

After Porcelain Veneers, will my Teeth feel Sensitive? 

After the porcelain veneers procedure you may feel some sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures due to the removal of a thin layer of enamel.  This typically disappears within a few days.  In a healthy mouth properly treated with porcelain veneers, porcelain veneers should feel like your own teeth.  Although veneers are very strong, they are also brittle.  You should avoid the same excessive stresses you would avoid with non-veneered teeth: don’t bite your fingernails, chew ice, or open beer bottles with your veneers!

How Long do Porcelain Veneers Last?

The expected lifetime of a porcelain veneer is somewhere between 7~20 years.  Veneers sometimes come off or chip.  If this happens, they can be repaired or replaced.  Over time, the living tooth and gum tissue around the veneers will also undergo changes that may require alterations to your veneers.  With routine dental hygiene and regular visits to your dentist, dental veneers can last for many years without breakages or discoloration. 

Non-Dental / DIY Dental Veneer Providers

In Taiwan, dental veneer is a regulated medical procedure under the Medical Care Act.  Dental clinics and dentists provide dental veneer procedures under the supervision of Taiwan's Ministry of Health and Welfare for medical safety and infection prevention.  While patients may find dental 
veneer services offered at non-dental venues in Taiwan, they are illegally performed by non-medical providers and are not supervised by any authority for medical safety and infection prevention and have sourced their materials from unknown and unregulated manufacturers.  DIY veneers or veneers provided by a non-medical provider may cause complications and irreparable harm to your teeth and gums including decay, gingivitis, periodontitis, and even tooth loss.  Taiwan's MOFW strongly advise any patients seeking dental veneers to consult a dentist for proper treatments

Choosing a Cosmetic Dentist

Not many dental schools provide general education in cosmetic dentistry.  Therefore, it is essential that a dentist pursue post-graduate training in cosmetic dentistry to master the required skills and knowledge.  There are well-respected advanced cosmetic dentistry education programs that help dentists perfect skills through hospital-based residency and real-life case presentations.  When choosing a cosmetic dentist, it is advisable to seek a prosthodontist or dentists with cosmetic dentistry training gained from a reputable academic institution.

Information Source:  American Dental Association, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, TWMOHW

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