Tag: cosmetic dentistry 101

Cosmetic Dentistry 101 – How Long Do Veneers Last?

Almost every patient that comes to see me about getting a beautiful smile sooner or later asks “How long do porcelain veneers last?” This is a very valid question everyone should ask, but let me answer it here for everyone as a reference.

Porcelain veneers, or porcelain laminates, are very thin but become bonded to the outside surface of your tooth, permanently. If the veneer is bonded to the enamel, the strong outside layer of your tooth, then we achieve a bond that is so strong that the porcelain would fracture before the bond would break.

Then some patients always say: “My friend has veneers and some of them just popped off”. Well, if that happens then the veneers were not bonded on correctly. I can honestly say I have only seen this happen once about 10 years ago on a patient in California that I worked on, and the reason the veneer popped off was because there was a manufacturers error in one of the bonding solutions. We corrected it and it never happened again. So if veneers are coming off then there is a problem with the bond, usually.

To really give a better answer to “How long do veneers last?” I usually describe how veneers fail.

Veneers today are made out of incredibly strong porcelain. This porcelain is bonded to the tooth structure, as we discussed, permanently. So, the only way to “break” the veneer would be via an accident like a fall, or biting on a fork. Anything that would break your natural teeth will break the veneer. Secondly, veneers need to function properly. If you grind or clench your teeth then you need to wear a nightguard. People wear teeth down to nothing by grinding all night long. Also, teeth can break from grinding. Porcelain veneers have the same limitations as real teeth.

As we age our gum tissue recedes a little. This will expose the edge of the veneer. This is normal aging and would happen with normal teeth as well. If the veneer was blended in color wise at the gumline then it will look very natural. But, if you have super white veneers then the darker root surface will show up and it will stand out a little more.

Lastly, you still need to brush and floss or decay will creep around the veneers just like regular teeth.

That is it. So veneers, if done correctly and maintained correctly can last decades. I am personally getting ready to do my veneers, so you all can watch me go through the process as well!

I hope this helps.

Keep smiling.

Cosmetic Dentistry 101 – Laboratory Technician

Cosmetic dentistry often requires a dental technician to fabricate the indirect restorations such as porcelain veneers, crowns, onlays and inlays. The dentist prepares the tooth and takes a mold which is then sent to the dental lab. From this point on it is up to the skill of the dental technician. They need to create a restoration that fits perfectly, is made out of the finest materials, and matches the existing teeth in the mouth – not a small task.

Above is just one of the articles that my dental technician wrote for a respected dental journal called QDT (Quintessence of Dental Technology) about cosmetic dentistry. Together I have written several articles for this invitation only journal with my technician.

Below is a list of essential elements to look for when considering cosmetic dentistry, as they relate to the dental laboratory:

  1. Who is the dental technician that will fabricate the restorations? (Veneers, crowns, etc.) Specifically, what qualifications does this individual have? Ask for pictures of work completed by this technician. Many dental offices do not have a relation with the technician and send their indirect restorations (crowns, veneers, etc.) to a “lab” that has many technicians. You never know who will make your tooth. Can we say “assembly line”? The only reason for doing this is cost – there are absolutely no other benefits to a dental practice other than it being cheap. Cheap and top quality do not go together. You need to know who will make the dentistry that is going into your mouth, and you need to know that they are extremely good at what they do. Find the website for your laboratory and see for yourself what they advertise.
  2. What materials are going to be used in your restoration? Gold – what type? Porcelain – what type? Yes, it makes a big difference. Nearly pure gold is still the longest lasting restoration we can place as dentists. Yes, it is not cosmetic, but it lasts and still has its uses. That being said, there are different levels of gold quality that dentists can select: High Noble, Noble, and Base Metal. The only metal I feel that should be used in the mouth is High Noble gold alloy. Everything else is a compromise (it has trace elements that you do not want in your mouth)- it is cheaper for the dentist. With regards to porcelain, there are too many different types to mention. Your technician needs to be familiar with each of them and be able to use the best material for your unique situation. Some porcelains are stronger than others, some are brighter, some fit better, etc.  If this restoration is going to last a very long time than it is important to use the best materials.
  3. Excellent technicians cost more.You are not only paying for the materials used to make your tooth, but for the skill of the operator. Just like the skill of the dentist, experience matters. A plastic surgeon places better sutures than a general doctor. A highly trained cosmetic dentist is better at cosmetic dentistry than a general dentist, and a highly trained dental technician is obviously better than a regular “fresh” dental technician. Often I have patients come to me for second opinions while in treatment. If they want the other dentist to complete the work I supply them with the information about which technician to have the dentist send the tooth to for fabrication. To date none have actually sent work to these technicians because the fee is too high. As we all know, you get what you pay for. So, the other dentist has the tooth made at his/her regular laboratory and guess what – the patient has sensitivity, the bite is wrong, the tooth looks horrible, and we have to redo the whole thing in my office. This happens almost weekly. The moral of the story: Get it done right the first time!

Cosmetic Dentistry 101 – The Basics

Before you buy a car you do what? You research everything about cars, right?  I sure hope so.

What about cosmetic dentistry? The internet is a vast source of both good and bad information. So, how do you know which is which?

Cosmetic Dentistry 101 is the beginning of a simple series of blog entries that describe the basics of cosmetic and quality dentistry that you must know before getting it yourself.

I love outline formats. It allows me to quickly scan for the important stuff, so this blog will be written mostly in that format.

1. All Cosmetic Dentistry Is Not Created Equal

This seems like a pretty straightforward point but far too often is ignored when “shopping” for a cosmetic dentist. You really do get what you pay for. The dentist not only has to have the skill, experience and passion to deliver top quality dentistry but he/she also needs to charge appropriate fees to pay an equally talented technician to create the work! It is not like one size fits all. Each and every tooth is a sculpture, a piece of art. For this reason, you need to decide what type of cosmetic dentistry you are looking for – a Ferrari f50 or a Toyota Accord. Both are cars, both drive, but there are certainly differences that we all could quickly point out. Quality cosmetic dentistry is light years different than average cosmetic dentistry.

2. Cosmetic Dentistry Takes Time

Time is the most valuable asset for everyone, including a dental business. It is, after all, a business. If something takes a long time, then it costs the dental practice more money in overhead. So, top quality cosmetic dentistry takes more time, which costs more money. If a smile makeover is promised in a short time, be wary. Does the dentist seem rushed? Does the dentist place his/her own fillings? Does the dentist see mostly 1 patient at a time or is the practice a mill? What type of dental practice is this – meaning; does the dentist do enough cosmetic dentistry or are they “practicing” on you? Observe if the dentist is rushed. How much time do they spend with you? How long is your consultation? Are questions welcome? Are emails responded to? If they are rushed now, why would they not rush your smile makeover? Are you a number, and if yes, is it number 1 or 1 out of 100 that day?

More coming soon!