Elevate Magazine Fall/01

Elevate Magazine Fall/03

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Reprinted from Elevate Magazine Fall '01 with permission.

Say Cheese
Part Two of the Perfect Smile:
Porcelain Veneers

By Susan Williamson

Matt Damon, Tom Cruise, Claudia Schiffer and Drew Barrymore: what do they have in common besides mega money and star status? Courtesy of good dentistry and porcelain veneers, all four have fabulous smiles. While chicklet-style teeth may have been in vogue twenty years ago, today, both star and fans alike are sold on the natural look.

But why porcelain? “Because it reflects and transmits light beautifully,” says Dr. Mark Kochman who specializes in esthetic and rehabilitative dentistry at his practice in Toronto. “Porcelain veneers capture the translucence of natural teeth, so you can look as if you were born with them, only better!” The colour looks natural because it’s customized to suit your eyes, complexion and hair.

Like bonding, veneers are applied to the enamel of the tooth, but the similarity ends there. Porcelain veneers are not a paste. They’re actually fabricated and fired in a dental laboratory from molds your dentist makes of your teeth. These wafer-thin ceramic veneers, which fit around the top and sides of the tooth like a slipper, are permanently fused to your enamel using a light-sensitive resin.

Veneers will cost you a lot more than bonding, and they definitely take time. “The process is technically-demanding,” Dr. Kochman explains. “It is very precise work and the actual insertion requires both critical skill and artistry.” Veneers also hold up much longer. With good oral hygiene and regular professional cleaning, your veneers should last for ten years…maybe longer.

Not everyone can benefit from this process, though, and your dentist will tell you on your first visit if your teeth are too discoloured for veneering. Those teeth that are badly broken down or really out of line with each other will need capping or orthodontics. And a tooth that has had root canal work done may not be suitable either.

What veneering will do is correct minor crowding and fill in chips and gaps. It’s also a great rejuvenator of yellowing teeth, although many patients opt for tooth whitening beforehand because the porcelain is translucent. And since veneers fit snugly, your gumline may need to be corrected or shaped. When and if all systems are ‘go’, your dentist will take molds of your teeth for temporary acrylic veneers and book your next visit.

At this appointment, dentists like Dr. Kochman will have had a wax model of your teeth prepared for you to look at. This allows you to envision the final result and discuss any modifications that you’d like made. Then about 10 per cent of your tooth enamel will be removed and final impressions taken. Before you leave, the temporary veneers are put in place to protect your teeth for the next week. You may experience some tooth sensitivity now but this will subside after permanent veneers are fixed to your teeth.

The next scheduled visit usually completes the process. Your dentist will remove the ‘temps’ and try on your new porcelain veneers. If you’re happy with the result, he or she will permanently bond them to your teeth, and finish up with some minor shaping and polishing. After insertion, your gums may be tender, but this should last only a couple of days.

Most patients are thrilled with the results…in more ways than one. “The contours of the lips are improved,” says Dr. Kochman. “And small wrinkles can disappear because of better underlying support.” Porcelain veneers seem to be one of those cosmetic procedures that have a high ‘wow’ factor because you’re bound to get more ‘oomph’ than nature usually provides.

NEXT ISSUE: The Rolls-Royce of tooth restoration: porcelain crowns.

For more information:

Dr. Mark Kochman, DDS
The Kochman Centre