When is it time to consider replacing veneers?
Veneers are designed to enhance the look of discolored, worn, chipped or broken teeth, or to straighten the look of teeth that are crooked. The veneer shell could be made from resin composites (a tooth colored filling material) or from porcelain. It is fitted to the front of the tooth providing a natural, aesthetically pleasing appearance. A veneer is an effective cosmetic solution, but it has a finite lifespan, just like any other dental restoration. Resin composites are usually done chair side, similar to placement of a composite filling, but it covers the entire front of the tooth. Prep is usually similar to porcelain restoration. This is the least expensive form.
What are the signs that your veneers may need attention?
- The veneer has sustained noticeable physical damage – Veneers are designed to handle the acids, sugars, bacteria and other corrosive and punishing elements in the mouth, and porcelain veneers are particularly durable, however, they aren’t indestructible, and veneers may eventually chip, crack or wear down just like your natural teeth. If you notice that a veneer has sustained physical damage, it’s time to make an appointment with your dentist.
- The veneer begins separating from the underlying teeth – Sometimes it’s not the veneer that causes the problem but the tooth to which it is bonded. A veneer cannot protect the underlying tooth from decay, so if cavities form from excessive intake of acids and sugar, sometimes the margins of the veneers may be the problem. Gum disease present around it may also corrode the bond and the veneer may start to separate from the tooth. If you feel or see this happen, it’s time to make an appointment with your dentist.
- The veneer was not installed properly to begin with – A veneer must fit perfectly, or it may separate and fall off. Although it’s not a common occurrence, some patients lose veneers because they weren’t sized or installed properly. When a veneer is installed, some of the tooth’s enamel must be filed away to ensure proper size and shape of the restoration. The amount of remaining enamel and proper care of cements should provide a strong bond. Be sure to choose a reputable dentist with experience in crafting strong veneers. Going with a cheap dentist now may cost you more in the future.
The most common cause of veneer failure is simply the wear and tear that comes with its age. A quick and easy replacement will solve the problem.
A veneer replacement is almost identical to veneer installation, so you’ve been through this before. The process causes little discomfort, but you want it done right to ensure the replacement veneer will last. Here’s what to expect during veneer replacement:
- The old veneer is removed – If the original veneer is still bonded to the tooth, it will have to be removed first. The dentist will cut the veneer off while avoiding damage to the underlying tooth.
- The tooth is prepared for the new veneer – The remaining tooth will be reshaped to ensure a tight bond between tooth and veneer.
- The dentist will take impressions – A veneer is custom made for a patient’s tooth to guarantee a perfect bond and is crafted from impressions taken of the patient’s mouth. The dentist places a tray in the mouth that has a semi-solid material in it. This material forms around the patient’s teeth and, once set, is removed with a tray. This impression provides a detailed picture of the patient’s teeth and soft oral tissues, making it possible for the dental lab to fabricate a precise veneer.
- The dentist will take a bite registration – A bite registration is much like an impression except that it replicates the patient’s bite position. This is a necessary step to ensure proper function of the newly fabricated veneers. The bite registration will alert the dentist to any complications with the veneer arising from the patient’s bite pattern.
- A temporary veneer is installed next – While the permanent veneer is fabricated at the lab, the dentist will place a temporary veneer on the patient’s tooth so that it looks natural. This temporary restoration is easy to remove when it’s time to place the final veneer.
- The lab-fabricated restoration is bonded – Finally, the porcelain veneer is checked for a proper fit and bonded to the tooth, just as the original was placed the first time. The veneer is bonded to the tooth and checked for a proper fit.
How can you avoid replacing veneers in the future?
Many patients assume that because a veneer is made from sturdy, nonorganic materials, it doesn’t need to be cleaned and maintained like a normal tooth. It’s true that veneers won’t decay, but the supporting tooth structure may without consistent, thorough hygiene. Here are some tips on extending the life of your veneer for as long as possible:
- Avoid non-food items in the mouth – Don’t put anything in your mouth that isn’t food. This means avoiding opening things with your teeth or chewing on or through non-food material. Biting nails and using your teeth as tools can also put a lot of unnecessary strain on the veneers (as well as your teeth).
- Avoid anything that will stain your teeth – If it will stain your teeth, it will probably stain the veneer, too. Coffee, soda, tea, wine and tobacco are among the most common culprits.
- Avoid sticky or chewy food items – Foods like caramel will pull and yank at the veneer. With repeated abuse it may come loose, so avoid sticky and chewy foods as much as possible.
- Use a mouth guard during sports and at night – This is especially true when engaging in contact sports as a stray elbow can knock a veneer (and occasionally an entire tooth) right out of the mouth. A mouth guard is also recommended for patients who grind their teeth while sleeping.
- Oral hygiene – If you’re diligent with keeping your teeth clean, the veneer will last. Brush with a soft-bristle toothbrush and opt for nonabrasive toothpastes. Floss daily and visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups.
How long do veneers last?
On average, patients can expect a veneer to last between 10 and 15 years depending on how precisely it was placed and how well it has been maintained.
Take care of your veneers, and they will keep your smile looking nice for years. When it is time for a replacement, select a dentist that you trust to perform the procedure so you’ll be confident in the long life of the replacement.