Veneers are very thin pieces of durable, tooth shaped porcelain that are custom made (for shape and color) by a professional dental laboratory. They are bonded onto the front of tooth to create a beautiful and attractive smile.
Veneers can completely reshape your teeth and smile. They can often be alternatives to crowns and the ideal solution in treating many dental conditions.
As with most dental restorations, veneers are not permanent and will someday have to be replaced. They are very durable and will last many years, giving you a beautiful long lasting smile.
Porcelain veneers are recommended for:
- Cosmetically; to create a uniform, white, beautiful smile
- Crooked teeth
- Misshapen teeth
- Severely discolored or stained teeth
- Teeth that are too small or large
- Unwanted or uneven spaces
- Worn or chipped teeth
Steps to make porcelain veneers
Porcelain veneers usually require two visits to complete the process, with local anesthesia required during the procedure. The teeth are prepared by lightly buffing and shaping the surface to allow for the thickness of the veneer. A mold or impression of the teeth is taken and a shade (color) will then be chosen by you and the dentist.
On the second visit the teeth will be cleansed with special liquids to achieve a durable bond. Bonding cement is then placed between the tooth and veneer and a special light beam is used to harden and set the bond.
You will receive care instructions for veneers. Proper brushing, flossing and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new veneers.
Porcelain Crowns (Caps)
A crown (or cap) is a covering that encases the entire tooth surface restoring it to its original shape and size. A crown protects and strengthens tooth structure that cannot be restored with fillings or other types of restorations.
Although there are several types of crowns, porcelain (tooth colored crown) are the most popular, because they resemble your natural teeth. They are highly durable and will last many years, but like most dental restorations, they will eventually need to be replaced. Porcelain crowns are made to match the shape, size, and color or your teeth giving you a natural, long-lasting beautiful smile.
Crowns are recommended for:
- Broken or Fractured Teeth
- Cosmetic Enhancement
- Decayed Teeth
- Fractured Fillings
- Large Fillings
- Tooth with a Root Canal
Steps to make a Crown
A crown procedure usually requires two appointments. Your first appointment will include taking several highly accurate molds (or impressions) that will be used to create your custom crown. A mold will also be used to create a temporary crown which will stay on your tooth for approximately two weeks until your new crown is fabricated by a dental laboratory.
While the tooth is numb, the dentist will prepare the tooth by removing any decay and shaping the surface to properly fit the crown. Once these details are accomplished, your temporary crown will be placed with temporary cement and your bite will be checked to ensure you are biting properly.
At your second appointment, your temporary crown will be removed, the tooth will be cleaned, and your new crown will be carefully placed to ensure the spacing and bite is accurate.
You will be given care instructions and are encouraged to have regular dental visits to check your new crown.
Porcelain Inlay and Onlay
To repair damage to the tooth’s biting surface, rather than using a simple filling, or a crown, Dr. Alvarez will often use a porcelain inlay or onlay, This is now becoming the material of choice because of its strength and potential to match the natural color of your tooth.
An inlay is similar to a filling and lies inside the cusp tips of the tooth. They are custom-made to fit the prepared cavity and are then bonded into place. An onlay is a more extensive reconstruction that covers one or more cusps of a tooth. Onlays are indicated in situations where a substantial reconstruction is required. However, more of the tooth structure can be conserved compared to placement of a crown.
Composite Fillings (fancy name for a Plastic Filling)
Composite fillings are a mixture of glass or quartz filler in a resin or PLASTIC medium that produces a tooth-colored filling. They are sometimes referred to as composites or filled resins. Composite fillings provide fair durability and resistance to fractures in small restorations that need to withstand moderate chewing pressure.
Originally designed for cosmetic anterior teeth restorations, it is broadly abused in dentistry as a “universal” filling material for the restoration of posterior teeth, especially in HMO driven dental offices. Far better materials such as amalgam are not options due to poor insurance reimbursement or low established fees.
In Dr. Alvarez's opinion, composite fillings are creating an enormous amount of dental problems on patients.
The following are some of the problems that Dr. Alvarez commonly finds related to composite fillings:
- Recurrent decay: Due to shrinkage during curing (placement), contraction and expansion from thermal changes and flexibility from biting forces, bacteria can leak under these restorations faster and more frequently then with other filling materials such as ceramics or amalgams.
- Sensitivity: To thermal changes (cold/hot), air, biting forces that could lead to irreversible nerve damage and the need of root canal treatment.
- Excessive wear: Due to poor properties of this “plastic“ material, Dr. Alvarez frequently finds this problem, especially on the biting (occlusal) surface of posterior teeth creating a distortion of the relationship between opposing (upper and lower) teeth, and in many cases requiring extensive reconstruction to correct the damages.
- Defective interproximal contact: Lack of posterior teeth interproximal ”strong/tight“ contact of this filling materials can lead to food impactation, gum inflammation, pain, discomfort, bone lose, localized gum disease and root sensitivity, along with other complications among other things.
All of these problems related to composite fillings can lead to frequent filling replacement, root canal treatment, crowns, tooth loss, and much more.
“I do not recommend the use of mid to large size composite (bonding) restorations for molars (posterior teeth) because of the poor properties of the material that lead to the list of problems mentioned above", says Dr. Alvarez.
* NOT RECOMMENDED FOR MID-TO LARGE POSTERIOR CAVITES, THE RECOMMENDED COSMETIC POSTERIOR RESTORATION FOR MID TO LARGE CAVITIES OR TO REPLACE EXISTING DEFECTIVE POSTERIOR FILLINGS SHOULD BE A CERAMIC ONLAY OR INLAY AND NOT COMPOSITES (BONDINGS).