Teeth have a very hard job. They are tearing into and chewing food all day long and when they're not being used to eat, there may be grinding and clenching during times of stress or sleep. Over time, teeth can become chipped, cracked, or stained. This can make a person self-conscious about how their teeth look. The good news is that veneers can help.

Veneers are dental appliances that cover up the front of a tooth and hide the evidence of all that wear and tear. With veneers in place, you won't shudder when you're asked to smile for that group photo. Keep reading to learn more about the veneers offered at Pacific Northwest Prosthodontics and all the benefits they have to offer.

What are Veneers?

Veneers are made from a tooth-colored material such as porcelain or composite resin. This material is crafted into a thin shell which covers the front part of a tooth. They are permanently attached to teeth and are sturdy and stain resistant. Why might you need veneers?

Stained Teeth

Many of the foods and drinks we consume on a regular basis can cause stains on your teeth over time. Some of the most common foods and drinks that can stain teeth are:

  • Tea/coffee
  • Red wine
  • Cola
  • Soy sauce
  • Tomato-based sauces
  • Curry
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Fruit juices (dark ones such as grape or cranberry)
  • Berries

You can prevent staining a number of ways. Choose alternatives for these stain-causing items. Perhaps drink water instead of cola or choose a lighter fruit juice. Simply rinsing your mouth after consuming one of these items can reduce the amount left behind that might stain your teeth. If your teeth have become stained from years of eating these types of food or drinks, veneers may be a good choice to cover all those stains up and brighten your smile.

Chipped/Cracked/Broken Teeth

There are a multitude of reasons you might damage a tooth. You might play hockey or baseball or any sport that has a hard object that could hit your mouth. Hard foods like nuts, hard candy, popcorn (especially the kernels), or ice can chip off part of your tooth. An accident such as a fall off a bike or a car crash can also harm teeth.

If it's a back tooth that has become chipped, cracked, or broken, a crown is often the best option for covering it up. If it's a tooth in the front, however, a veneer may be the best choice. Your dentist may need to smooth out any area that has become damaged in order to fit on a veneer. Once that veneer is in place, you won't even notice anything happened.

Misshapen/Crooked Teeth

If your teeth are misshapen or crooked, you'll want to consult with your dentist. At Pacific Northwest Prosthodontics, we can determine whether or not veneers can correct issues caused by misshapen or crooked teeth. It's possible you may need orthodontics or another tooth straightening treatment. Veneers are designed to alleviate aesthetic concerns, not functional concerns. Veneers cannot change the position of your teeth. If your issues are minor enough, however, veneers could help create a straighter, more natural look.

Gapped Teeth

Many people have larger gaps between their teeth than they would like. Veneers may help with that. If the gap is very large, your dentist may recommend bridge work or braces of some type (either traditional or invisible) to pull your teeth closer together. Once that work is completed, your dentist can determine whether veneers would also be helpful to complete the job. If the gap between your teeth is smaller, veneers may solve the problem. Whether one veneer or several are needed, those pesky gaps can be hidden so your smile is even and straight.

The Veneer Process

The very first thing we'll do here at Pacific Northwest Prosthodontics is sit down with you to talk about your concerns. What is it about your teeth that you'd like to improve? We'll determine whether veneers are the proper solution to your problem. If you are, indeed, a good candidate for veneers, the next step is to prepare your teeth. It may be necessary to remove some of the enamel from the tooth (or teeth) the veneers will be attached to, though sometimes the veneers can go on without this step.

Once the tooth (or teeth) is prepared, we will take digital images from all angles so your veneers can be customized to fit exactly; some dentists may prefer to use impression material to make a mold. If needed, a temporary veneer will be placed on your tooth (or teeth) while the dental technician works on creating your permanent veneers. The veneers are designed to match the natural color of your teeth.

When your custom-made veneers are ready, it's possible your dentist may numb the area they will be working in. They will remove any temporary veneers that were placed and make sure the tooth (or teeth) is clean and all set for the permanent veneers. A special cement will be applied to the veneer(s), then the veneer(s) will be carefully attached. A specialized light beam will be shone on the veneer(s) to quickly harden the cement. Finally, the veneer(s) will be adjusted as needed to make sure your bite is in good shape.

The Advantages of Veneers

Veneers made from porcelain may last anywhere from ten to twelve years. Veneers made from composite resin last anywhere from four to eight years. To ensure a long life for your veneers, practice good oral hygiene routines. Brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss—as you should already be doing. Veneers are low maintenance in that regard—no extra steps to keep them in good repair.

Veneers look just like your natural teeth. No one will know that you've been through the process of getting them—unless you tell them. In addition, veneers can help strengthen your teeth, particularly if those teeth have become chipped or cracked. Your self-confidence will hopefully be boosted by your fresh, new look. And next time someone asks you to "say cheese," you will be happy to oblige.

Are Veneers Right for You?

Do you have concerns about the way your teeth look? Contact us at Pacific Northwest Prosthodontics today to set up a consultation. We're here to help you smile.