First impressions last the longest or so the saying goes. A great hairstyle and awesome outfit with killer accessories can be defeated by an open mouth that reveals ugly teeth.
People reveal their dental secrets all the time – and some of them aren’t very pretty. Chipped teeth, discolored enamel, gaps, and receding gums can all be a major source of embarrassment, especially for those who speak or give presentations for a living.
Cosmetic dentistry improves a person’s appearance without affecting how teeth bite or improving gum health. Such elective procedures are purely voluntary on the part of the patient and seldom covered by health insurance. The full expense must be shouldered by the person receiving treatment.
Nonetheless, cosmetic dentistry has been popular in modern times since Newell Sill Jenkins (1840-1919) introduced his Jenkins porcelain enamel, and promoted superior porcelain pastes, porcelain inlays, dental crowns, and bridges.
Many cosmetic dental procedures are quite expensive. One solution many people can afford is to get porcelain veneers. These have been available since the Roaring 1920s when flappers shimmied and jazz musicians set a new beat. A dentist based in Hollywood, California (where else?) answered his star patients’ request for help in creating a dazzling smile.
Dr. Charles Pincus developed an acrylic tooth cap that fits over a person’s existing tooth. The Hollywood stars would cover their imperfect teeth while shooting a movie and then take them out for future use.
Dr. Pincus is credited with promoting the first commercially successful dental veneers. A veneer is a super-thin tooth cover made out of hard substances that are bonded right onto the ugly tooth to hide its inner truth. People use them to close gaps between teeth, improve the shape of teeth or alter tooth color.
“Just plain folks” began to embrace dental veneers to cover their oral deficiencies during the time period from the 1920s to the 1950s. Dr. Michale Bunocore addressed the problem of veneers falling out – how dreadful! – by inventing a new procedure which involved a light etching of the target teeth with a mild acid.
By the 1950s, most tooth veneers were manufactured out of porcelain (which is very hard and has an extremely high melting point temperature) or composite. Bonding agents adhered better to etched teeth.
Modern dental veneers rolled out during the 1980s when the price dropped and remain a favorite choice among self-conscious consumers. High-quality veneers allow the wearer to speak and even eat normally. They cover only the front tooth surface and are cemented (bonded) to keep them from falling out.
Today, there are two kinds of veneers: traditional and no-preparation:
- Traditional veneers require a couple of trips to the dentist. First, the least amount of enamel is removed from the selected tooth or teeth. Sometimes, though, the dentist must grind down the tooth structure past the enamel in order to create a surface suitable for supporting a veneer.
Next, the dentist makes an impression of the slightly-shaved tooth and sends the mold off to a dental lab for a custom-made veneer.
Two to four weeks later, the veneer is ready and delivered to the dental office for customer pick-up. The dentist performs a final fitting before applying a permanent bonding agent to hold the veneer in place.
One downside of traditional veneers is that their placement is irreversible. Plus, the procedure can be painful enough to warrant a local anesthetic.
- No-preparation veneers such as Lumineers and Vivaneeres do not require as much reduction of enamel – which does not grow back as hair does. These tooth coverings fit right over existing natural teeth and, in many cases, can be fitted without any anesthetic.
The dentist adjusts the veneer’s fit, appearance, and color. When everything is perfect, the new veneer is bonded to the tooth.
The cost for traditional veneers ranges, on average, between $925 to $2,500 per tooth. and can last 10 to 30 years. No-prep veneers cost around 800 to $2,000 per tooth and last between 5 to 7 years. You can see that traditional veneers might get you more bang for the buck. Selecting the right kind of veneer for your lifestyle and financial means is something to discuss frankly with your dentist.
Before ordering the lab to fabricate veneers, most dentists create a model of the patient’s mouth for diagnostic purposes and to test out different oral contours and tooth colors. The size, shape, and proportion of dental veneers are all critical to a winning result so it is definitely worth the time and extra expense to get this preparatory part right.
If you are shopping for a new smile and considering getting veneers, it’s important to understand that Mother Nature is wonderful, but almost never bestows perfectly straight and uniform teeth. It’s easy to spot fake teeth by their perfection so avoid perfectly space, identical “chicklet teeth” that are, frankly, too good to be true.
Slight imperfections in our teeth are desirable. Did you know that the same is true with certain flaws in precious gemstones?
A great dentist will work with patients – and patience – as well as the lab techs, to achieve a match to the other teeth that will remain uncovered. The edges of the veneer are translucent to blend into the gums.
Not every mouth is a candidate for veneers but a reputable dentist will steer you in the right direction toward a smile that just won’t quit.