Porcelain veneers, often alternatively termed dental veneers or dental porcelain laminates, are wafer-thin shells of porcelain which are bonded onto the front side of teeth so to make a cosmetic improvement in their appearance. Porcelain veneers are routinely used to idealize teeth that are discolored, worn, chipped, or misaligned.
What is the dental science behind porcelain veneers?
Porcelain veneers are the most recent application of the art and science of cosmetic dental bonding. For decades dentists have had available to them materials which can create a durable bond to tooth enamel. Porcelain veneer technique utilizes the bonding capabilities of these materials to securely attach a thin sheet of porcelain (the porcelain veneer) to a tooth. Although porcelain is inherently brittle, when it is firmly bonded to a sturdy substructure (a tooth) it becomes very strong and durable.
What are the advantages of porcelain veneers over other types of cosmetic dental bonding?
Two of the greatest advantages of porcelain veneers over other types of cosmetic dental bonding are:
A) Porcelain veneers create a very life-like tooth appearance.
You might be surprised to learn that while yes, a major component of teeth is enamel, they are not solid enamel. The enamel component of a tooth is actually only an outer shell.
One property of this enamel covering is that it's translucent. This means that when light strikes a tooth's surface it is not immediately reflected off, but instead penetrates into the thickness of the enamel. This light will subsequently be reflected off the non-translucent tooth structure that lies beneath the enamel. This property of translucency is an important part of what gives teeth their characteristic appearance.
Porcelain veneers, because they are glass-like, have a great advantage over other types of cosmetic dental bonding by the fact that they are translucent. When they are bonded onto a tooth's surface they mimic the light handling characteristics of enamel.
B) Porcelain veneers resist staining.
Cosmetic dental bonding materials utilized in the past had the shortcoming of being susceptible to staining and discoloring. This was especially a problem for those people whose teeth had excessive exposure to tea, coffee, red wine, or cigarette smoking.
A significant advantage of porcelain veneers over other types of cosmetic dental bonding is related to the fact that a porcelain veneer's surface is just that, porcelain. Since porcelain is a ceramic, and therefore glass-like, its surface is extremely smooth and impervious. This means that the surface of a porcelain veneer will not pick up permanent stains.
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