As a practicing cosmetic dentist for many years, there are certain questions that have been repeatedly asked by patients concerning porcelain veneers. I’d like to go over the three must commonly asked questions in the hope of creating some clarity.
Can you make my teeth look natural? I don’t want Chiclets!
This requires a discussion of what constitutes natural. In a natural looking smile all teeth are not the same length nor are they the same width. This follows the rule of “Golden Proportions”. Color is aanother issue. You don’t want teeth that are refrigerator white!
Can you make my teeth “Nuclear White”/ “Crazy White”?
Many patients say I want my teeth white. If you ever did any painting of your home and asked for white paint you will have discovered that there are a plethora of white shades.
The same can apply to porcelain veneers. What you don’t want is “Refrigerator White”. To have a bright colored tooth also requires a certain degree of vitality. Vitality is created by incorporating opalescence and depth of color. In other words the deeper light penetrates the porcelain the more opalescence, hence vitality. A white refrigerator does not have opalescence. Some of the worst porcelain veneer cases I have seen used porcelain that was totally opaque.
How long will porcelain veneers last?
Personally, I hope forever because my mouth is full of them. However, I do appreciate this question. I have some patients who have their veneers now for about twenty years. That being said there are two primary factors that can be attributed to porcelain veneer longevity.
First is an obsessive practice of following a strict bonding protocol. The adhesive agent used to bond the porcelain veneer to a tooth is very technique sensitive. If a dentist does not strictly adhere to the manufacturers directions, you will not get a good bond.
Secondly, one must remember that esthetics is dictated by function. If one makes porcelain veneers that function outside the patient’s normal chewing function, the veneers will break. This calls for an understanding of occlusal (how teeth come together) function, which unfortunately, many dentists ignore.
Four words can sum up what constitutes natural looking teeth — color, opalescence, size, and function.
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