Answer: Porcelain veneers can solve all sorts of aesthetically compromised smiles. They can help to correct stained, chipped, crooked, gapped, and cracked teeth, along with many other issues associated with unattractive smiles. In the majority of cases, some tooth structure must be removed in order to create space for the porcelain. Every case is different, and in order to achieve the desired functional and aesthetic results, tooth reshaping is almost always necessary. The amount of tooth reshaping needed completely depends upon the case, the position of the teeth, and the amount of decay or previous restorative material in the teeth in question.
One of the wonderful things about porcelain veneers is that the veneers are made to fit the existing dentition, making the preparation more conservative than for full crowns. With full crowns, the teeth often must be “over-engineered” (or reduced) in order to accommodate the restoration being placed. Fortunately, veneers or other all-porcelain restorations can be bonded directly to the remaining tooth structure, which allows dentists to preserve more of the natural tooth. The bond to the tooth is also much stronger than the traditional “cementation” of crowns to teeth.
Modern porcelain veneers placed by dentists with the appropriate advanced training and fabricated by master ceramists should look very natural. Considerations such as tooth shape, length, contours, “reflective” and “deflective” zones (how light bounces off of different surfaces), the transition of shades, incorporation of color, texture, translucency, and the functionality of the finished product must all be carefully analyzed, discussed, and planned before embarking upon this course of treatment. If not done properly, the fit, function, and/or aesthetics will be compromised.
While some tooth modification is almost always necessary to ensure an excellent result, smile enhancement can be more conservative than ever due to new materials and techniques available today. Porcelain veneers, when fabricated and placed properly, can make obtaining a natural, healthy smile easier and more predictable than ever.
Dr. Jim Arnold is a practicing dentist in Chesterton and Valparaiso. He is also a clinical mentor with the Hornbrook Group and serves on the Advisory Board for the Academy of Comprehensive Esthetics as the Fellowship Chairman. You may send questions to his office at 1830 South 11th Street, Chesterton, IN 46304, or email them to drarnold@SmilesByArnold.com. More information on this or any other dental topics can be found at www.SmilesByArnold.com.