In the old days the most popular dental veneers — those thin, usually porcelain cosmetic moldings that cover the fronts of teeth — were big, gleaming, flawless choppers. Known in the popular vernacular as Chiclets, they were for decades the go-to smile improvement for actors, celebrities, politicians and anyone else who wanted or needed photo-perfect teeth. In fact, veneers, invented by California dentist Charles Pincus primarily for 1920’s Hollywood film studios, were originally used for temporarily improving the appearance of film actors’ teeth.
Camera-perfect smiles were fairly ephemeral in those days, since the adhesive used to bond veneers to the natural tooth’s surface was temporary. Veneers could only mask the actor’s dental flaws for a short period of time before they needed to be replaced. Predictably, technology has marched on since 1928.
Today’s porcelain-laminate veneers consist of a compilation of several thin ceramic layers which affect original tooth enamel only slightly. They are bonded to the natural tooth with a light-sensitive resin that is hardened using a special curing light. To apply a veneer, a very small amount of the original tooth enamel is removed, less than a millimeter in most cases. This allows the veneer to fit snugly over the natural tooth and comfortably within the mouth.
Technology isn’t the only component that has progressed for veneers. Fashion has also changed. Chiclets are out – at least for anybody but celebrities and politicians. Recently we’ve begun to recognize that large, startlingly white, celebrity teeth look garishly out of place on anybody who isn’t staring into a bank of spotlights and cameras.
Trends today favor attractive but natural-looking teeth. Whereas, back in the 1970’s, supermodel Lauren Hutton was required to cover the natural gap in her front teeth with a temporary crown, contemporary models and actresses, including Georgia May Jagger, (yes, that Jagger) sport natural gaps as a beauty bonus.
Over the past few years I’ve witnessed the dwindling popularity of Chiclet veneers in our own practice. Patients today are generally more interested in a customized, natural look for their smiles. Of course, natural does not mean that we simply replicate original flawed teeth. To our team, natural means subtly and attractively improved versions of the real thing.
Porcelain veneers are often an excellent option in situations where an original tooth has fractured or discolored. It’s also a good option for teeth that need shaping or contouring. If tooth position is compromised or there are minor bite-related problems in your mouth, veneers are a viable solution. And if you aren’t particularly thrilled by a gap between two teeth, then veneers can improve that situation for you.
Further, veneers may be the best option for teeth with superficial stains that do not respond well to whitening. We may also recommend them to quickly fix minor twists, and overlaps. On the other hand, if you are a true fan of a lifelike and thus imperfect smile, we may suggest creating a minor twist or adding grooves that resemble the texture of natural porcelain.
The first and most important part of any cosmetic procedure is the consult. We find that the more specific and detailed a patient is about what he/she wants to accomplish – what problems with teeth/gums she wants solved and/or what kind of visual look he hopes to achieve, the more likely we are to achieve a successful result that satisfies both personal and dental health goals.
We like to start by simply checking your smile, which gives us an ample amount of information about placement and possible solutions. We’ll then spend time clearly identifying dental issues that need to be addressed, cosmetic improvements you want to accomplish, and our advice on best procedures to accomplish all of those results. Veneer placement may be an excellent option for you. On the other hand, if it is not the best option, we can explore alternative solutions.
Our primary goal for your veneer placement is to accurately and attractively restore natural tooth function. We sculpt each veneer for you so that once in place, it blends perfectly with your own teeth. You can treat it like a natural tooth, flossing routinely and brushing with non-abrasive fluoride toothpaste. It won’t change color over time, and it resists staining from coffee, tea, wine and smoking. In a healthy mouth that’s properly cared for, you can expect a porcelain veneer to last five to ten years – usually longer.
Veneers are a permanent solution. Because a portion of the original tooth enamel is reduced, the tooth can never be returned to original condition. However, your natural tooth remains intact with only minimal altering. We should also note that veneers are very strong, but they are also brittle. You should avoid nail-biting, chewing ice or any other undue stress that you would avoid with natural teeth.
If you are considering a dental upgrade to your smile, call us at (781) 826-8395 to schedule a cosmetic consult along with your regular dental exam or as a stand-alone appointment.