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3 Steps To A Better Smile: Getting Porcelain Veneers

Porcelain veneers can seriously improve the look of your smile. Veneers are thin custom covers that can fix discoloration, chips, gaps and uneven teeth. Most porcelain veneers patients need to visit their dentists a total of three times over a 2 to 4-week period to complete the procedure.

Visit 1: Planning Your Treatment

Your first dental visit is mainly a consultation visit. You'll need to talk to your dentist about your concerns and discuss an overall treatment plan. Your dentist will perform an examination to inspect your teeth and make suggestions on which teeth should get veneers. This exam might include full mouth X-rays or impressions of your teeth. Since most porcelain veneers are considered cosmetic, most dental insurance plans won't pay for them, so you should also discuss the total cost and any payment plans available at this visit.

Visit 2: Preparing Your Teeth

Your second visit involves your dentist preparing your teeth and making models to send to a laboratory to have your veneers custom-made. First, your dentist will likely administer a local anesthetic so you won't have any pain or discomfort during the preparation. Next your dentist will remove some enamel from each tooth that will have a veneer placed over it. This is done with a small device that has a spinning cutting wheel. You likely won't even notice some of your enamel is missing because only about 1/2 millimeter is removed -- about the same thickness as a veneer.

Finally, your dentist will make a model of each tooth getting a veneer to send to the laboratory. Most dental labs take 2 to 4 weeks to finish making the veneers and send them to your dentist.

Visit 3: Placing and Bonding Your Veneers

You'll have your veneers placed and bonded to your natural teeth during your final visit. Even though porcelain veneers are made from impressions of your teeth, your dentist will place each one on your teeth temporarily to make sure the fit and size is perfect. If it isn't, the veneer can be trimmed. Next, your natural teeth will be cleaned and polished. Before your dentist places the veneer on your tooth permanently, the surface of each tooth will be etched in a process similar to light sanding to make the surface rougher, which will make the veneer adhere better.

Finally, your dentist will place the veneers on your teeth with a bonding cement and use a special light to activate the chemicals in the cement. Veneers bond and harden very quickly, and your dentist will remove any excess cement before you leave. This final visit can take several hours depending on how many veneers you're having placed and how much adjustment and trimming is needed.

If you have any questions about your procedure or whether porcelain veneers are a good choice for you, consult with a regular dentist, like one from Advanced Family Dental Care LLC, or a cosmetic dentist in your area.