Tooth discoloration and staining, broken and chipped teeth, and gaps or misalignments: these can be the visible symptoms of our teeth working hard for years. While wear and tear is a natural part of the aging process, that doesn’t make it any easier to face in the mirror. And what about other causes of discoloration (e.g., some types of antibiotics) that yellow teeth prematurely? Whatever the cause, a smile that is dimmed can be difficult to face. Thankfully, dental veneers can help.

What are dental veneers?

At first, you may think that a whitening treatment can fix your smile, but what if there are other cosmetic issues? Whitening discolored teeth may be an option for you if stains and discoloration on teeth are shallow and easily removed. Dental veneers, however, can go beyond superficial stains.

Dental veneers are thin shells of porcelain or composite resin that are fitted over existing teeth. Although mostly placed for cosmetic purposes to create a beautiful, bright smile, veneers can protect teeth from further damage. They can also prevent the need for further dental work. They can also help improve the alignment of a person’s bite, treating stress and jaw pain from misalignment.

Veneers are designed to reconstruct a beautiful smile, including:

  • Covering deep, resistant stains and discoloration
  • Straightening and smoothing teeth
  • Filling in gaps and cracks

What’s the process to make dental veneers?

The veneers process involves at least three visits, starting with a consultation.

During the consultation, your cosmetic dentist will evaluate your candidacy for veneers and offer you different choices. You will also discuss your preferences with regard to the size and shape of teeth as well as color. This step is crucial, as it will determine the shape and color of your final smile.

In the next visit, the dentist will prepare your tooth surface. This may involve using a small handheld bur grinder to remove some tooth material to ensure proper sizing and fit. Teeth will then be measured and a cast taken for custom-made veneers.

Our master ceramists 

At AZ Dentist, we work with two master ceramists who custom-craft our porcelain veneers. Their skill and attention to detail has been honed over 20 years of experience. In cases where new veneers will be matched to existing veneers, we may even send patients directly to see the ceramists for proper color matching and sizing. This ensures a consistent match between veneers and your teeth.

Depending on the tooth or teeth being covered and the estimated time to craft the veneers, you may be fitted with a temporary veneer. This can give you an idea of what your finished smile will look like, but the color and fit is not exact.

Once the custom-made veneers are delivered, your dentist will place your veneers and evaluate their fit. This entire process from first consult to final placement can take anywhere from one to three weeks depending on your dentist and your schedule.

You may find that your teeth are a bit more sensitive to hot and cold during and after this process. This should pass in time.

How long do veneers last?

On average, dental veneers last between ten and 20 years. This can be longer or shorter depending on:

  • How you care for your teeth
  • The skill with which the dental veneers were placed
  • How they are used

People who grind or clench their teeth may get less use out of their veneers than those with no history of this.

To preserve the longevity of your dental veneers, it is important to see your dentist every six months for a cleaning and checkup. Avoiding biting hard things, such as carrots, thick pretzels, and hard candy. Practicing proper dental hygiene like brushing twice a day and flossing will also help keep your veneers strong and healthy.

Can you whiten veneers?

Porcelain veneers are mostly impermeable. This means that regular staining agents (e.g., coffee, soda, and red wine) don’t generally penetrate the surface.

If you feel like your veneers are darkening, ask your dentist to make sure the seal is still in place. Darkening of the tooth underneath can be a problem. Light and superficial staining will occur at a very slow rate over time. Your dentist can remove this with an oxidizing gel.

In some cases, the veneer itself may be darker than you would like to begin with.