SAN DIEGO -- With the recent broadcast of the Academy Awards, it’s hard to miss the continuous parade of Hollywood smiles.
Almost everyone in Los Angeles has that winning grin: Their teeth are not only perfectly shaped, but they’re perfectly white -- the kind of white that leaves you wondering if they have ever had a glass of red wine or a cup of coffee.
The truth of the matter is that many of these Hollywood stars and starlets weren’t born looking as if they fell out of an Orbitz gum commercial. Those smiles are made possible through a bit of dental magic otherwise known as the porcelain veneer.
Defined, a porcelain veneer is a thin layer of restorative material placed over the surface of a tooth.
“It’s basically another way to change the shape, size or color of your teeth,” said Dr. Rod Strober of Strober Dental in Hillcrest. “A lot of people call them instant ortho, because instead of going through the process of straightening their teeth with braces or Invisalign, they instead get veneers on their teeth, which will put them in the right position, and will make them the right shape and color.”
That gleaming white color is impervious to stain, Strober continued, meaning that million-dollar smile will remain permanent. You’d never need to worry about bleaching your teeth ever again.
While some choose veneers to whiten their teeth, others choose veneers to help improve their smile due to injury. Hale Media publisher Johnathan Hale is among those falling into the latter group.
“I sustained injuries to my front teeth when I was younger and the replacement crowns that I received were less than desirable,” Hale said. “My crowns were darker than the rest of my teeth due to bleaching treatments. The replacement crowns and veneers would be a closer match to my other teeth.”
Smiles, however, are not cookie-cutter items. Strober works closely with his patients to ensure they’ll be happy with the final result.
“If a patient is interested in veneers, we’d have them come in to discuss what their wants are and to then take some photos,” Strober said. “We’ll then look at their teeth together on a very large monitor, and I’d have them tell me what they don’t like about their teeth and what they do like about their teeth.”
From there, a dental impression is made and the patient will begin to browse through a catalog of smiles.
“This catalog has different shapes and sizes of teeth,” he said. “We’ll talk together about what they like and what they don’t like, and from that catalog I’ll tell the laboratory to create what’s called a wax-up, which allows the patient to see what his or her smile will look like after they get veneers.”
Once the patient improves the wax-up, the next step is to schedule a preparation visit. During this visit, a small amount of the enamel is taken down (7/10ths to one millimeter) off the front of the tooth to make room for the veneer.
“We use that reduction so that when we add to the tooth with the veneer that they don’t feel too bulky and people don’t feel like they have a big mouth full of teeth,” Strober said.
The next step involves the trying-on of temporary veneers. Made from an exact replica of the wax-up, wearing the temporaries allows the patient to “test drive” their new smile for a couple of weeks to make sure they like the shape and size of the teeth. If they’re too big, too small, or otherwise not quite right, this allows time for the patient and dentist to communicate as to any changes that need to be made.
After a thumbs-up is attained, the laboratory will move forward with fabricating the porcelain veneers, which are then bonded permanently to the teeth. All in all, it’s a very thorough process.
While the process is through, however, Hale said it’s not as complicated as one might think.
“The process was actually not lengthy at all,” he said. “My initial treatment to prepare for the crowns and veneers was less than three hours. The follow-up treatment to install them was just over an hour.”
While some question whether getting veneers might open them up to additional risks for tooth decay, Strober said that if the veneer is done properly and everything is sealed correctly, there shouldn’t be anything that gets underneath them.
“Veneers don’t get cavities,” he said. “Of course, there’s still the expectation that the patient will come in and get their teeth cleaned every six months and that the veneers will be cared for. The patient should also know they should really stop using their teeth to open packages, and that they shouldn’t be biting pens or pencils or their nails, but this is also something they should stop doing in general with their natural teeth.”
Using your teeth to open beer bottles, he added, is also entirely out of the question.
All in all, the process of getting veneers is becoming more and more common with each passing year. It’s not only for actors and actresses wanting to get that superstar grin, but it’s also for people who are tired of whitening their teeth and want that permanent white smile. Others are deciding to move forward with veneers due to permanent brown or white spots on their teeth caused due to developmental issues. Regardless as to your reason for wanting veneers, the outcome is one you’re bound to be thrilled with for the rest of your life.
Hale said he couldn’t be happier with the final result.
“My front two teeth always reminded me of Bugs Bunny so the new crowns and veneers were a dramatic change,” he said. “I am thrilled with the results and feel that my smile is finally complete. Take a look at my before and after photos and you can see why!”
If you have questions about porcelain veneers, contact Strober Dental at (619) 299-5925 or click HERE.