Quick Smile Fix: A Complete Guide to Porcelain Veneers

A smile can go a long way, and having a beautiful smile builds confidence and a sense of empowerment that translates into all areas of life. Maybe you deal with tooth discoloration or misalignment, but don’t want to go through or pay for a lengthy braces and teeth whitening process. Maybe you want to impress more people at work or in your field. One of the best and easiest ways to achieve a beautiful smile is by using porcelain veneers.

What are porcelain veneers? How do they work? How are they put on? How long do they last? And how are they different from LUMINEERS®?

What are porcelain veneers?

Porcelain veneers—sometimes also called dental porcelain laminates or dental veneers—are incredibly thin shells made of tooth-colored material, usually porcelain or other resin composite materials. They are designed to fit comfortably over natural teeth and improve the overall appearance of your teeth, from color to alignment.

What are LUMINEERS®?

LUMINEERS® are very similar to porcelain veneers. They’re made of even thinner material—they’re thinner than contact lenses—and, while they don’t last quite as long as porcelain veneers, they can fit over pre-existing dental work, such as bridgework or a dental crown. Additionally, they require no grinding or shaving of teeth. This gives them some unique advantages.

What conditions can porcelain veneers or LUMINEERS® treat?

Porcelain veneers and LUMINEERS® are long-lasting cosmetic dental solutions designed to treat and correct a variety of dental conditions. Some of the issues they address include:

  • Large gaps in between teeth.
  • Worn teeth.
  • Unusually shaped teeth.
  • Dull teeth.
  • Misaligned or crooked teeth.
  • Tooth discoloration or staining due to overexposure to fluoride, smoking, beverage or food pigmentation, or teeth-damaging drugs.
  • Cracked teeth.
  • Rotated teeth.
  • Pointed teeth.
  • Chipped teeth.
  • Smaller-than-average teeth.

Remember, cosmetic doesn’t mean superficial. Unfortunately, we live in a society where appearance often does factor heavily into first impressions and, therefore, into our level of confidence and success at work or in social situations. Addressing these issues is a way of caring for yourself and giving yourself a leg up in a variety of situations. It’s a way of super-charging and empowering your appearance for maximal personal benefit. Since veneers can last over a decade—depending on care and type of veneer—they make an excellent long-term investment.

The benefits of porcelain veneers

Porcelain veneers offer a variety of unique benefits and aren’t nearly as invasive as many other dental solutions. Let’s compare porcelain veneers to some other cosmetic dental treatments.

For one thing, porcelain veneers are much less invasive than dental crowns. They require little-to-no removal of existing teeth structure. The most you’ll run into is a little grinding or shaving of teeth so that the porcelain veneers will fit nicely and last as long as possible.

Because of the minimally invasive nature of porcelain veneers, they typically only require two to three dental visits to fit. This saves you time scheduling, in the waiting room, and the dentist’s chair.

Veneers are also a permanent alternative to teeth whitening. Perhaps, for some reason, you can’t due to intrinsic stains or dental restorations or don’t want to whiten your teeth. After all, teeth whitening often needs touched-up and is rarely permanent. Porcelain veneers, on the other hand, cover and whiten the teeth immediately upon application, do not stain, and look like real teeth. Because veneers function like a shell on the front of your teeth, they can also make your teeth stronger and less susceptible to future damage.

Additionally, veneers offer a good middle ground between bonding and dental crowns in terms of longevity, the extent of appearance alteration, and invasiveness. They change the tooth structure more than bonding, but don’t require the extensive work that dental crowns do.

What about the benefits of LUMINEERS®?

LUMINEERS®, while similar to porcelain veneers, are even less invasive. They require no grinding, no shaving, no anesthetic, and thus cause minimal discomfort. Remember, they’re as thin as contact lenses. During the procedure, these LUMINEERS® veneers are bonded to your teeth and set with a curing light. This means there is minimal discomfort afterward, which then, in‌ ‌turn, means that you can start enjoying your new smile right away.

Things to keep in mind

While wonderful long-term investments, porcelain veneers, and LUMINEERS® are not permanent. They will need to be replaced every 15-20 years. This longevity is incredible, especially when compared to teeth whitening and coupled with the minimally invasive nature of veneers, but it’s also something to plan ahead for.

The application process will require several visits to the dentist’s office, but then, after that, you can enjoy your new and beautiful smile for years to come.

Porcelain veneers may not be right for you if:

  • You experience tooth decay.
  • Your teeth are weakened.
  • You have large dental fillings.
  • You habitually grind your teeth, whether awake or while asleep.
  • You do not have adequate enamel on the surface of your teeth.
  • Your teeth are unhealthy.
  • Your teeth are badly fractured.
  • You suffer from gum disease.
  • You habitually clench your teeth.

Talk to Dr. Owens today to find out if porcelain veneers would make a good dental solution for you and your smile.

Preparing for porcelain veneers

If you feel that porcelain veneers or LUMINEERS® are the right dental solution for you, here are some things you can do to get ready. Remember, this is the first step in taking active control over your smile health.

First, schedule a complimentary consultation session with Dr. Owens. Contact Scott J. Owens DDS Cosmetic and Family Dentistry to schedule your appointment today.

During this complimentary session, Dr. Owens can answer any questions you have about the process while also examining your teeth to ensure that this is the correct dental solution for you.

Additionally, Dr. Owens might take some x-rays or impressions of your teeth in this first consultation session. This will help him plan exactly what will need to be done to ensure that the veneers fit for optimal appearance and longevity.

Designing the porcelain veneers

Once you and Dr. Owens have determined that porcelain veneers are right for you, you can schedule an appointment to start designing your veneers.

During this appointment, Dr. Owens will take a tooth sample so that he can design veneer that’s perfect for you and your individual smile. This sample will help him determine the exact shade of veneer that’s right for you. He will also prep your teeth for the next visit’s veneer application. To do this, he will numb your mouth with a local anesthetic to minimize any discomfort. Next, he will trim the smallest amount of enamel necessary from your teeth so that the porcelain veneers will fit your teeth perfectly. Dr. Owens will also make a model of your mouth to ensure the veneers will make an ideal fit.

After this session, Dr. Owens can give you temporary veneers to wear while you wait for your more permanent porcelain veneers to be designed for you. It usually takes approximately two to four weeks for Dr. Owens to receive your porcelain veneers back from the laboratory.

In short, the goals during this phase of the process are:

  • To minimize any discomfort felt by you, the patient.
  • To answer any remaining questions that you might have.
  • To ensure that your veneers merge with your teeth so seamlessly that they look like your natural teeth—but better.
  • To help Dr. Owens build veneers with optimal comfort, teeth protection, and longevity in mind.
  • To prepare your teeth for the final phase of the process: veneer application.

All about the porcelain veneer procedure

The procedure itself is minimally invasive and should not take long. In this portion of the process, Dr. Owens will fit the porcelain veneers to your teeth. Here are the steps involved in this stage:

1. First, Dr. Owens will clean your teeth. This will ensure optimal hygiene ideal veneer fit.

2. Next, Dr. Owens will work with your enamel. He might etch it or roughen it to increase friction between your teeth, the binding agent, and the veneers to ensure optimal porcelain veneer longevity and tooth health.

3. Dr. Owens will then use a very strong type of dental cement to bind the thin veneers sturdily to your teeth. This will take several minutes.

4. After your veneers have been applied, a curing light will help harden the cement and set the veneers to your teeth. This will keep them in the correct position and prevent any moving or shifting.

5. Dr. Owens will then remove any excess cement and evaluate your bite.

6. Next, the veneers might need to be polished or shaped. Dr. Owens will assess the fit and do this final touching-up work to optimize the appearance of your porcelain veneers.

7. As he touches up the veneers, Dr. Owens will blend the appearance of the veneers in with the natural look of your other teeth.

8. Dr. Owens will check in with you during and after the procedure, monitor levels of discomfort, and continue to answer any questions you may have.

After your porcelain veneer application

Immediately after the application of your porcelain veneers and for approximately two weeks after the procedure, you may experience some discomfort as your mouth adjusts to your new smile. Your teeth may feel:

  • Sensitive to cold.
  • Sensitive to heat.
  • Sensitive to hard foods.

However, this discomfort should subside within two weeks, and you can enjoy your new smile immediately.

As your mouth adjusts to your veneers, you may need to visit Dr. Owens once more for a follow-up appointment. During this final session, Dr. Owens can check to make sure your gums are responding positively and that the placement of the veneers is ideal.

The longevity of porcelain veneers

Many porcelain veneers can last up to 20 years–usually between 7 and 15 years. However, to see to it that your veneers last you as long as possible, it’s essential to refrain from biting down on extremely hard foods, such as nuts, ice, or similar materials, and to maintain proper oral hygiene.

Additionally, avoid using your teeth for the following purposes:

  • Chewing on fingernails or pens.
  • Opening packages.
  • Opening condiment packets.

Here are just a few more additional precautions to take:

  • Wear a retainer if you or your dentist suspects that you grind your teeth at night.
  • Wear a mouthguard if you play contact sports.
  • Chew harder foods with your back teeth as opposed to your front teeth.
  • Cut up hard foods, so they’re easier to chew.

Furthermore, while porcelain veneers are incredibly stain-resistant when compared with normal teeth, Dr. Owens may advise you to avoid staining foods and beverages, such as red wine, coffee, or tea, to improve the longevity of your veneers.

What about the LUMINEERS® procedure?

LUMINEERS® involves a slightly different and much less invasive procedure. While they last approximately 5 to 7 years, they can last longer with good care and upkeep. Additionally, as they’re made of incredibly thin material, they do not require anesthetic or tooth alteration in the application process.

As a result, your teeth will most likely not experience any discomfort or sensitivity during or after the procedure. Like porcelain veneers, LUMINEERS® are incredibly stain-resistant and prevent the need for any subsequent teeth whitening.

Due to all of these factors, LUMINEERS® typically only require two visits to be properly fitted and applied. In your first visit, Dr. Owens will determine whether they’re the correct option for you as well as take a mold or impression of your mouth. Together, you can talk about what exact shade will be ideal for you.

On your second visit, Dr. Owens will painlessly fit the LUMINEERS® to your teeth. He might make some adjustments to the fit to maximize their optimal appearance, longevity, and healthy, natural shade.

After that, you’re free to go and enjoy your instantly white smile.

Caring for veneers

Caring for your new smile is very much like caring for natural teeth and requires little additional effort. Floss every day, brush your teeth at least twice a day and keep up with your regular dental visits. Rinse with an antiseptic mouth wash regularly, as you normally would.

Contact Dr. Owens today

If you feel that veneers are the right cosmetic dental solution for you, take action today and reach out to Owens Cosmetic & Family Dentistry. Empower your career, your social life, and your confidence by achieving the smile that’s meant for you.

Call (248)-716-8623 today to take charge of your smile, improve your first impressions, and enjoy new confidence in your teeth.

Emma Reed has a background in Psychology (B.A.) and Medical Anthropology (M.S.) and writes for a variety of medical publications. Her passion is making cutting-edge medical information accessible to a broader audience, and her work often examines the intersections of sociology, anthropology, and medicine.