Cosmetic Dentists Debunk The Most Common Myths About Veneers

Dental veneers have been around for nearly a century, but the technology has come a long way since their early days in Hollywood. Here, cosmetic dentists demystify the smile-enhancing treatment.
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Written by Samantha Stone
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Cosmetic Dentists Debunk The Most Common Myths About Veneerskiuikson/Shutterstock

Dentals veneers have gotten a bad rap over the years. They’ve been regarded as high-maintenance, unnatural looking, and causing heightened tooth sensitivity — but how much of that holds true today? The truth is: very little. A go-to treatment for people looking to conceal a damaged tooth or enhance an entire smile, veneers have come a long way.

What Are Dental Veneers?

Dental veneers are custom-made shells that are designed to cover natural teeth to improve their appearance. The thin shells are bonded to the front of the tooth and are commonly made from porcelain or resin. With the help of a dentist, patients are able to choose the shape, size, length, color, and spacing of their new teeth. The goal of dental veneers is to transform the appearance of the teeth to create a natural-looking smile. While veneers are an option for anyone looking to enhance their smile, they can be a life-changing procedure for those with chipped, broken, or misshapen teeth.

What’s Different About Modern Veneers?

Believe it or not, porcelain veneers have been around for nearly a century. Originally serving as a temporary way to enhance the smiles of actors and Hollywood-types, their popularity and purpose is now widespread — and the technology has come a long way.

The materials used for the caps and the techniques used for bonding have improved results and made veneers longer lasting. Today, you can choose from traditional veneers and so-called ‘minimal-prep’ or ‘no-prep’ veneers. With the classic veneers, a dentist will still shave off a small amount of tooth enamel — though significantly less than the former process. For minimal and no-prep veneers, little, if any, shaving is required. Instead, the veneer is bonded to the natural tooth. With the new bonding agents and proper care, veneers are expected to last upwards of two decades before needing to be replaced.

Debunking Common Veneer Myths

Even with all the progress that has been made, there are still plenty of misconceptions about the quality and effect of veneers. To better understand how modern dentistry has improved the procedure and results, The AEDITION asked two of the foremost experts in the field. Here, Beverly Hills-based cosmetic dentists Anjali Rajpal, DMD, and Sam Saleh, DDS to debunk the most common myths about veneers.

MYTH 1: My natural teeth will be gone

Answer: No, new techniques require less removal of the tooth structure than ever before.

Dr. Rajpal: Porcelain veneers are facings of teeth which require minimal removal of tooth structure from the front and the edges of teeth. To achieve the best bonding results in the long term, the preparation should remain in the enamel layer and not go too deep. Most of the original tooth structure will remain intact. Typically, the reduction of tooth structure is around 0.3 millimeters to 0.5 millimeters, but can vary from zero to one millimeter depending on how much of a shade change is needed and how much pre-existing wear has already occurred.

Dr. Saleh: I specialize in no-prep and minimal-prep veneers. This essentially means that I remove the minimal tooth structure required for the thickness of the porcelain veneers. The digital technology utilized in my practice makes it possible to design the teeth with extraordinary precision ahead of time. Since I know the end result before the preparation, I am able to be specific and conservative with any removal of natural tooth structure.

MYTH 2: I can only get veneers on my front teeth

Answer: Depending on a patient’s teeth and aesthetic goals, veneers can be placed on one tooth or many.

Dr. Saleh: As a facial aesthetic dentist, each patient I work with presents a unique canvas to create a smile that is distinctive to their individual features. I aim to achieve a result that is both beautiful and functional. For some patients, that may mean that they need an individual tooth worked on. For others, it may require a full mouth reconstruction. As an average, I would say 10 veneers on the upper arch are most common.

Dr. Rajpal: Every case is unique and has to be evaluated according to the health and color of tooth structure, as well as facial form. I have done many cases where only one veneer was actually needed, and we were able to match it extremely well by working with a high-caliber lab and taking a proper custom shade. However, in many cases, it’s a good idea to see how wide a smile is corner to corner and veneer the visible teeth to achieve the most uniform look.

MYTH 3: If I get veneers, my teeth will look stained

Answer: Unlike natural teeth, porcelain veneers will not stain — though the same cannot be said of their composite counterparts.

Dr. Rajpal: Composite bonding and natural tooth structure can stain over time, however, porcelain veneers are a solid sheet of glass. They are non-porous so they cannot absorb stains.

Dr. Saleh: The longevity and aesthetics of the veneers are directly proportional to the quality of the materials used and its fabrication process. I am fortunate to have a dedicated team of laboratory technicians and master ceramists who work exclusively for me in my in-house laboratory. This way, I control the process from beginning to end ensuring high-quality function and aesthetics. I work exclusively with various forms of porcelain that are custom glazed. This makes the material impervious to stains, unlike natural tooth structure which continues to absorb stains as we age.

MYTH 4: My teeth will become more sensitive

Answer: Assuming the procedure is performed properly by a qualified provider, any initial sensitivity should resolve.

Dr. Saleh: Sensitivity after placement of veneers depends highly on the individual patient and his or her pre-existing conditions of the teeth. In our experience, those patients who do experience sensitivity find it is for a short period and do not require further treatment. In many cases, patients who experienced sensitivity from their natural teeth reported that, after completing porcelain veneer treatment, it greatly reduced their sensitivity to hot and cold over the long term.

Dr. Rajpal: If the preparation of the teeth are done conservatively and protected with a desensitizing agent and proper bonding technique, there should be no reason for sensitivity.

MYTH 5: The veneer process is not reversible

Answer: It is true that veneers are not reversible, so it is important to be confident about the procedure before committing.

Dr. Rajpal: Once the veneers are placed, it is not possible to go back to the original teeth. If the patient is extremely hesitant about placing veneers and there is room for bonding, then adding composite bonding to the tooth without removing tooth structure may be a good option in the meantime. In some cases, no-prep veneers are an option, but it requires the teeth to be slightly smaller and to have spacing for the best results. You want to avoid having the teeth look thick or bulky, which could cause gum irritation.

Dr. Saleh: While the preparation is minimal, it is true that the treatment cannot be reversed. I, therefore, provide a thorough and comprehensive evaluation and treatment planning phase for all my patients. This results in their ability to make an informed decision that they can confidently commit to without regret. Truthfully, it’s never occurred that a patient wanted to reverse treatment. The before and after transformation is quite remarkable. Most patients comment that they feel they have the teeth and smile they were ‘always meant to have.’

MYTH 6: My smile will look unnatural

Answer: Just as every smile is unique, so too is every person’s definition of ‘natural.’ Be clear about what you are looking for and be sure to ask to see before and after photos of previous patients to ensure your aesthetic aligns with that of your dentist.

Dr. Saleh: My philosophy towards aesthetics is objective. I see my role as delivering a smile that my patient’s want, therefore, communication is a key factor in the process. Our initial consultation will have between one to two hours of discussion followed by the creation of a model. The model will depict the new size, shape, and texture of the teeth. I place the new design in the mouth in the form of temporary veneers and/or crowns. I feel this gives my patients the best insight into their new smile. My patients are able to give me specific feedback with respect to the design, and it allows me to fine-tune the teeth into the smile of their dreams.

Dr. Rajpal: I always communicate with the patient to understand their true desires. It is definitely possible to build character into the smile design and have slight imperfections or asymmetries for a more natural look. I can design a digital simulation as well as a wax mock-up to help visualize the potential final result.

MYTH 7: Veneers are too expensive

Answer: Veneers are an investment. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

Dr. Rajpal: They may seem like a large investment at the time, but veneers are a long-term investment that is well worth it. The smile is an extremely valuable asset. I have seen many of my patients in the entertainment industry book bigger roles and get more opportunities as a result of their enhanced smile. So in the end, oftentimes there is an appreciable return on investment.

Dr. Saleh: As with any self-enhancement, porcelain veneers are an investment towards your overall oral health and systemic well-being. The true value, in my opinion, is the added confidence it brings. Many of my patients have reported life-changing results both professionally and personally. A large number of my patients started their journey following my work on social media. For some, it takes years to allocate the necessary resources to make their dream a reality. My fantastic administrative team is always there every step of the way to assist in any way they can.

The Takeaway

Not your grandmother’s dental treatment, modern technology has improved the quality and longevity of porcelain veneers, with patients often enjoying the smile-enhancing benefits for decades to come. As with any cosmetic procedure, consulting with multiple providers will ensure you find the right treatment plan for your needs and aesthetic goals.

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SAMANTHA STONEis a contributing writer for AEDIT.

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