You’ve noticed that your teeth don’t look quite the way they did when you were younger. Maybe they’re more translucent, or shorter. Maybe they’re ground down on the fronts or even cracked or chipped.
While dental veneers are primarily known as a cosmetic procedure that can give you the dazzling smile of a movie star, veneers have non-cosmetic, functional benefits, too. Danielle Greene, DDS, an expert dentist and founder of Fabulous Smiles of Atlanta, located in Atlanta and Marietta, Georgia, explains how veneers might be the right solution for your tooth and bite problems.
Veneers strengthen your teeth
Sometimes being overly vigilant about your oral health backfires. If you brush your teeth too often, with too much pressure, or use a hard-bristled toothbrush, you erode away the hard enamel surface that protects your teeth.
You may not be able to see any breaks or cracks in your teeth. But even a microscopic fissure, crack, or hole allows bacteria to travel into your tooth, where it can infect the nerve-rich dentin and your gums, and even cause permanent tooth loss. Tooth loss is so common that fewer than half of adults in the U.S. under age 64 have all of their teeth.
Veneers are cemented directly to your teeth, creating a shield against bacteria and acids that could destroy your enamel and put your teeth at risk. Veneers also make your teeth slightly thicker and much more durable. Veneers last up to 15 years before needing to be replaced.
Veneers restore your biting surface
If you’ve noticed that your teeth aren’t straight across at the bottom, you may have a condition called bruxism. Bruxism, which is grinding your teeth during times of stress or while you sleep, wears down the surface of your teeth. Although your molars are most often affected, your front teeth can also get ground down so that the biting surface is higher or more angled than it used to be.
Veneers restore the proper length to your teeth. Creating hard, new biting surfaces means that you can enjoy your favorite foods without worrying about chipping a tooth.
A more even biting surface also improves the way your mouth and jaw close and function, and even improves digestion. When your teeth are of uneven lengths, you might favor one side of your mouth more than the other, which can cause tension and pain in your jaw. Even, regular biting surfaces let your teeth and jaws function as they were designed to.
Veneers close the gaps
Gapped or twisted teeth expose more of your tooth area and your gums to bacteria and acids. Gapped and twisted teeth can also be more difficult to brush and floss.
By closing the gaps and making the surface of your teeth more regular, Dr. Greene helps you take better care of your smile. Veneers limit bacteria’s access to your teeth. By closing the gaps with veneers, Dr. Greene also creates a more perfect and functional alignment of your teeth.
Veneers are easier on your teeth than crowns
If you have damaged, cracked or ground-down teeth, you may have considered covering them with dental crowns. However, crowns require your dentist to remove more of your natural tooth than veneers do.
When you get veneers, Dr. Greene first takes physical molds and digital images of your teeth. She then sends these to a lab, which fashions the custom-designed veneers to match your ideal tooth shape and color. Within weeks, your veneers are ready.
Before applying the veneers, Dr. Greene cleans and prepares your teeth. She removes just a small amount of the enamel surface so that the veneer doesn’t add too much bulk to your tooth, and the cement adheres well. Even if you’re getting multiple veneers, the entire process only takes about an hour or two.
Veneers save you from constant whitening treatments
If you want sparkling white teeth but worry that constantly removing stains with whitening treatments may wear down your enamel or weaken your teeth, veneers are the solution. Dental veneers are made of stain-resistant materials so you never have to worry about drinking coffee or tea or eating blueberries.
Though they’re stain-resistant and will always be bright and white, you still need to care for your veneers just as if they were your natural teeth. Brush with an American Dental Association (ADA)-approved enamel toothpaste twice a day, using a short brush. Floss at least once per day and see your dentist at least twice per year for a thorough, professional cleaning.