Over the years, I have come in contact with a great deal of patients looking to enhance their smile through cosmetic dentistry. While each patient is different, there are a number of questions that I am asked year after year. The following are the most frequently asked questions regarding cosmetic dental procedures.
1.What does the procedure entail?
While each cosmetic dental case is different, there are a number of things that patients can expect when undergoing a cosmetic dental procedure. First, there will be four office visits required to complete the cosmetic dental case. The first visit will be a consultation to discuss your cosmetic dentistry needs and answer any questions you may have. This will be followed by a cosmetic exam, during which time we will cover the specifics of the case and collect the necessary information to perform the trial smile or prepare the provisional veneers.
The third office visit will be the longest. This is the appointment where we place the provisional veneers and prepare for the cementation appointment. Made of an acrylic material, the provisionals will look identical to the trial smile (barring that the patient has not identified any issues with these) and the porcelain veneers. Typically, this appointment will last two to two-and-a-half hours. However, only about an hour of this appointment will be spent working in the patient’s mouth.
Three weeks later, the patient will come back for their final appointment where we cement the veneers to the existing tooth structure. This appointment typically takes an hour, during which time we will remove one half of the provisionals at a time and place the porcelain veneers. This is done to ensure that the porcelain veneers match the provisionals in terms of fit, size and color. At this time, we will clean the teeth and chemically bond the veneers to the tooth structure, making the veneers permanent.
2. What is the level of pain?
Cosmetic dental procedures are very conservative in nature, and as a result I do not expect patients to experience any pain during or after their visit. Unlike more aggressive dental procedures, such as crown preparations, cosmetic procedures deal only with the enamel of the tooth and will require no more than a mild dose of local anesthetic to address any pain the patient may have. Typically, the most common follow up comment from patients is that the gums feel a little sore.
For those patients who have a fear of dental procedures, a light oral sedative can also be taken to calm nerves before and during the procedure.
3. How long will the veneers last? Is there any maintenance that needs to be done?
Statistically, dental veneers will last about 15 years. However, this does not mean that the veneers will come undone at this time. Rather, after this period of time many patients will have sustained some chipping to the veneers and staining around the gum lines and may need to consider repairs and maintenance. These repairs will require that the veneers be replaced. However, only those veneers that have sustained damaged will need to be replaced at this time.
This is not the case for all patients, however. Some patients may be very pleased with their veneers after 15 years. Others may experience problems before this time period. This is all relative to the wear and tear that the veneers endure. To minimize the need for repairs, veneers should be treated like your natural teeth. This means daily brushing and flossing, scheduling regular six-month cleanings, and avoiding activities such as fingernail biting, holding objects with your teeth and chewing ice.
4. What is the average recovery time?
Because of the conservative nature of cosmetic dental procedures, post-op sensitivity is not typically a problem. Recovery time is on average one to two hours, or as long as it takes for the local anesthesia to wear off. Typically, these procedures are scheduled first thing in the morning, allowing patients to return to work that afternoon.
5. Will the veneers look natural?
Absolutely. I am 100% confident that each patient that leaves our office will walk away looking and feeling more confident in their smile than they did before. It is our goal to improve patients’ appearances without drawing negative attention to their smile. What we hope, and what we have seen, is that people will say you look happier. Not that you have undergone a cosmetic dental procedure.