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Porcelain Veneers

Porcelain veneers are thin shells of ceramic that bond directly to the front surfaces of the teeth, immediately improving their appearance

About the author, Dr. Stella Kim

The materials on this page were prepared and medically reviewed by Dr. Stella Kim, DDS, a San Francisco dentist and a graduate of the UCSF School of Dentistry.

About porcelain veneers

Porcelain veneers have become increasingly popular because they can improve your smile dramatically in a relatively short period of time. Veneers can be used alone or in conjunction with orthodontics, full-coverage crowns, and/or selective “composite bonding” to achieve the customized smile makeover that you desire.

You should be aware that placing veneers requires a high degree of technical skill in addition to very precise laboratory fabrication and careful attention to cosmetic detail. The results can vary significantly depending on where you get your veneers done. At SF Dental, we place veneers routinely, and we design each case individually to match and enhance the characteristics of each patient’s smile. We only use premium laboratories and materials for all veneers.

How veneers are applied

There are a few steps to placing dental veneers, and it usually takes a few appointments:

  1. Diagnostic impression: We take an initial impression, which is used to create a mockup wax model of what we want to achieve.
  2. Patient discussion: When the mockup is ready, you return to the office so we can discuss the design with you. We may even do a demonstration on your teeth with temporary materials, to mimic what the final restoration will look like.
  3. Enamel preparation: Next, we numb the area for greater comfort and remove a small layer of the enamel, just enough to accommodate the thin porcelain. Then we take accurate impressions and have them sent to a lab.
  4. Temporary veneers: While we wait for the lab, you will be provided with temporary veneers. They are very thin and must be cared for carefully so that they don’t pop off or break.
  5. Veneer placement: Once the porcelain veneers are delivered from the dental laboratory, we schedule another appointment to cement them permanently. We begin by cleaning the tooth. It is very important that your teeth be thoroughly cleaned before applied veneers, as we do not want to trap any bacteria or debris underneath them. We then use a special tool to roughen the surface of the tooth. This allows us to apply the dental cement that will hold the veneer. Once the veneer is placed and properly adjusted, we use an ultraviolet curing light to harden it.

Your tooth is then ready to go! There is no extended recovery period for most veneer treatments. You can eat and chew as you normally do.

Reasons to consider veneers

There are a number of situations where veneers make a good deal of sense. There include:

  • Worn or discolored teeth: Your tooth enamel can deteriorate with age, leading to issues with discoloration or textural irregularities. Veneers can make these more regular.
  • Uneven spacing: You may have uneven spacing between your teeth, or some may have been worn by grinding (bruxism). In certain cases, veneers can help make your smile look more uniform.
  • Broken or chipped teeth: With certain types of tooth injury, veneers provide a more natural-looking result than the alternatives.

Will they look like normal teeth?

A veneer’s resemblance to healthy, white tooth enamel—with all of its color and shade complexities—is unsurpassed by other restorative options. Our goal is a beautiful, age-appropriate smile that earns you compliments.

To achieve this, the typical treatment plan involves optimizing the tooth color of all teeth in the mouth using Zoom or Kör, replacing unsightly or damaged fillings, and then shaping the teeth for precise impressions that are sent to the lab.

How durable are porcelain veneers?

Our lab crafts veneers from the highest quality porcelains available, using high-tech materials unavailable just a few years ago. When bonded to the teeth, thin porcelain veneers are virtually undetectable and highly resistant to coffee, tea, or even cigarette stains. Veneers are a commitment to a permanent change. Under ideal circumstances they last as long as regular full-coverage crowns.

Further reading