What is cosmetic dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry focuses on the aesthetic changes to a patient’s teeth, gums, and bite to improve the appearance of their smile.

Cosmetic procedures are those that improve upon the color, position, shape, size, and alignment of teeth. Patients looking to improve teeth that are stained, discolored, worn, chipped, broken, misaligned, misshapen, or have gaps will require cosmetic dental procedures.

But which procedure and outcome is the right solution for you? Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about cosmetic dentistry.

Can veneers fix crooked teeth?

Veneers can fix minor alignment issues on patients with healthy teeth. If the misalignment affects the patient’s overall bite or if tooth alignment is considered moderate to severe, aligners or braces will be needed to make necessary corrections. This is because instead of repositioning the teeth, veneers simply cover the natural tooth.

How do porcelain veneers work?

Porcelain veneers are a thin, shell-like layer of porcelain that is bonded over the natural tooth to improve its appearance.  Veneers can remedy minor alignment issues, close small gaps and spacing, and even out the appearance of misshapen or uneven teeth.

To prepare the tooth for the veneer application process, your dentist will begin by removing about half a millimeter of enamel. Next an impression is taken of your bite to create veneers that are a perfect fit for your unique smile. It is important that the veneer not only fit well over the tooth it will be applied to but between the teeth beside it as well as those that are either above or below it. A proper fit takes your entire smile into consideration.

These careful measurements are then sent off to the lab. It takes about two weeks for the lab to create your beautiful new veneers and send them safely back to your dentist’s office.

Before applying the veneer, your dentist will ensure that the fit, shape, and color are a perfect match for your bite. This step may require some minor trimming and reshaping to get that perfect custom fit that looks and feels like a natural part of your mouth.

Next, the dentist readies the tooth for the actual application. They will clean the tooth and apply a special gel that roughens the surface of your tooth on a microscopic level to allow for the bonding cement to have superior adhesion. Your dentist will select an appropriate shade of bonding cement to create a natural looking tooth. They then apply the chosen shade of bonding cement and place the veneer onto the tooth. For a steadfast final result, an ultraviolet curing light is used to quickly harden the bonding cement.

Should I get porcelain or composite veneers?

When deciding on which veneer option to choose, it is important to understand the pros and cons of each type.

Due to the translucent quality of porcelain, these veneers are more natural and tooth-like than composites. They are also more stain- and chip-resistant due to the heat treatment they undergo during manufacture as well as the glaze that is applied after they are placed.

It can also take a couple of appointments for your porcelain veneers to be finalized, as these custom-fit options are created in a lab.

Composite crowns, on the other hand, are artistically sculpted onto the tooth by your dentist. For this reason, they require less enamel to be removed before being applied and can be done in just one appointment.

As they require less time, materials, and resources, composite crowns are the cheaper option. It is important to note, however, that compared to porcelain veneers’ 10-year lifespan, composite veneers can be expected to last between just four and eight years. Composite veneers are also more prone to staining and chipping and so need to be well cared for during their lifespan.

Many patients, especially those on a budget, will start with composite veneers as they are the wallet-friendly starter option. This allows them to save up for the pricier but longer-lasting, more natural-looking porcelain veneers.

How much will they cost?

The cost of veneers, as with so many things, largely depends on factors such as where you live, the veneer material you and your dentist choose, and the extent of work that will need to be done to prepare your teeth for the application.

Composite veneers, also commonly referred to as direct veneers, are applied to the teeth in a single dental visit and typically cost around $250 per tooth.

Porcelain veneers, also called indirect veneers or laminates, are a custom-made shell fabricated to fit over your teeth. This option can be expected to start at $1,000 per tooth.

How many veneers will I need?

How many veneers you will need will depend entirely on your smile goals and the extent of your makeover plan. You will only need to have as many teeth done as absolutely necessary—which can be anywhere between just one or all of those visible when you smile.

If you are looking to remedy a chipped or stained tooth, you will need just one veneer. However, if you are looking to fix an uneven smile you may need several veneers placed.

Will my veneers be covered by my dental insurance?

Since veneers are considered a cosmetic procedure, many insurance plans do not cover the cost. Most insurance companies will only include coverage for preventative services and select restorative procedures in their dental plans.

There are, however, financing plans available for those who are looking to make their smile goals a reality. Talk to the team at Berrien Dental about their payment-plan options through CareCredit.

Does it hurt?

For most patients, having veneers placed is pain-free. The tooth and surrounding area will be numbed before the procedure. A very small amount of enamel will need to be removed before the bonding agent is applied. This removal can lead to some patients experiencing sensitivity—any sensitivity that does occur goes away in one to two weeks.

Many patients also find it takes a few weeks to adjust to the feel of their new modified bite. This adjustment may feel awkward but should never be painful. If you experience pain during this time, you should contact your dentist office to have the necessary adjustments made.  

Am I a candidate for Invisalign clear braces?

If your bite’s misalignment is not a candidate for veneers, you may be a great candidate for Invisalign clear braces.

Invisalign is a discreet treatment option for those with mildly crooked teeth, a mild under- or overbite, overcrowded teeth, wide gaps between teeth, or malocclusion.

A consultation with your dentist can help you to determine the severity of your misalignment and the best treatment option for your smile makeover goals.

 

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