Self Enrichment-Putting your best face forward

By James Green, DDS, PA

While it really doesn’t come as a surprise, a growing body of research tells us our smile speaks volumes to those we meet.
Sometimes our smile conveys a great message, and other times your smile can create less than a positive impression. Unfortunately, some people have lost the ability to smile freely, and they will cover their mouths with their hands to avoid showing their teeth in public or simply refuse to smile at all.
In many cases, the problems they are trying to hide include: Staining or discoloration, worn-down or slightly misaligned teeth, space between the teeth, or a gummy smile, all of which could be addressed beautifully with porcelain veneers. So, what exactly is a porcelain veneer?
You’ve probably already heard the word “veneer” used in other contexts to describe a very thin covering that makes the surface of something look better. That’s exactly what it means in dentistry as well.
An extremely thin custom-made porcelain facing that is astonishingly lifelike in appearance and placed on the front of a tooth giving it a new “face.” Mind you, veneers don’t correct issues such as decay; they are cosmetic only. Any other issues such as decay or gum disease need to be addressed prior to even considering veneers.
In order to make veneers look naturally contoured and harmonious, it may or may not be necessary to remove tooth structure, depending on how big the teeth are to begin with, as well as the desired final tooth size and shape.
Porcelain Veneers may be used to modify or enhance the color, size, and shape of your teeth. Tooth color can change throughout one’s life, generally yellowing with age and time. Some people who were given the antibiotic tetracycline in childhood develop tooth discoloration that is very difficult to remove.
Also, the choices we make in consuming certain foods, drinks (especially red wine, coffee and tea), and/or cigarettes can affect the color of our teeth.
Whitening can help, but the degree the teeth whiten will depend on the starting point. Some teeth with excessive discoloration never achieve an acceptable color with simple tooth whitening even when this is done at a dentist’s office.
Veneers have the ability to mask color and therefore provide greater latitude when making a color shift to whiter and brighter. Abnormal wear on teeth can make them appear shorter, flatter or rough along the edges.
Therefore, veneers can give you back your smile or allow you to have the smile you have always wanted. Most dentists can show you what your smile could look like prior to beginning treatment by using a preliminary diagnostic wax-up. Some people consider rounder teeth more feminine and might want the edges made a little squarer for a more masculine appearance.
But that’s the great thing about veneers: It’s a collaborative effort between your dentist and you, in which you play an important part.

Read more in the March/April issue of LiveIt magazine.