Digital smile design: the essentials of veneers

Smile Design

What are veneers and when are they applied

A veneer is a thin layer of ceramic or composite on a tooth. It covers the front and sides of the tooth and covers the incisal edge. The purpose of the veneer is to hide the visual defects of the tooth, shaping it properly and making it whiter. Veneers replace the top layer of enamel and correct cosmetic defects - that's why they are also called microprostheses. Veneers are applied to the teeth in the smile area, usually the central and lateral incisors, canines and premolars.

With the help of veneers, it is possible to:

• Hide small chips and cracks in the enamel.

• Fill large gaps between teeth.

• Correct non-critical shape defects, making the surface flat.

• To improve the color, hide stains on enamel and dark fillings.

An important condition: veneers are only placed on healthy teeth. If there are cavities or other pathologies, the doctor first removes them, and only then the aesthetic defects are corrected.

What materials are used for veneers

Veneers are made of composite or ceramic in a dental laboratory. Each type of veneer has its own manufacturing technology, advantages, disadvantages and indications. You can learn more about this in our veneers overview

What is a composite veneer

These are overlays made of photopolymeric filling materials - composites. The production technique is relatively simple, the price of materials is low, so these veneers are manufactured quickly and are inexpensive. But that is where their advantages end. The average life span of a photopolymer veneer is 3 to 4 years, sometimes up to 5 years. The coating is periodically polished to keep the teeth looking aesthetically pleasing.

Direct composite veneers are aesthetic restorations made by the doctor directly on the patient's teeth in a single office visit. The process is similar to that of a regular filling: the dentist prepares the tooth, coats it and dries it with a dental light, creating the desired shape and size of the tooth. It is incorrect to call this procedure "veneers". Veneers are prefabricated fillings made in a dental laboratory. In this case, it is a direct restoration of the tooth with a filling material.

Composite veneers: dental relationships

Teeth covered with composite veneers do not have a completely natural appearance, standing out from uncoated teeth. Unlike tooth enamel and ceramic, fillings are not translucent and are not transparent enough, so veneers made of them do not look natural. Over time, fillings become dull and dark and can be stained by food and drink. Patients who choose composite veneers usually return to the doctor after 3 or 4 years to have them replaced with ceramic veneers.

What is a porcelain veneer

Ceramic dental veneers are as close to tooth enamel as possible. It is a durable material that allows light to pass through and does not fade over time. Teeth with such a coating look natural.

There are two main types of porcelain veneers:

• Porcelain. These veneers have a perfect aesthetic appearance. If an appropriate shade is chosen, teeth with these veneers are indistinguishable from teeth with natural enamel.

• Zirconia. These are particularly durable veneers with a zirconia framework and a ceramic coating. Zirconia veneers are superior to porcelain veneers in terms of strength but inferior in terms of aesthetics. They are usually placed on the 4th or 5th chewing teeth if they are in the smile area. Or if that is what the patient wants. Only zirconia onlays can withstand the pressure of chewing.

Veneer fabrication methods

Ceramic veneers can only be made in a dental laboratory. There are three manufacturing methods:

• Layer by layer application. The plaster model of the tooth is set with a 0.025 mm thick platinum foil and the ceramic material is applied in thin layers. The design is then fired in the furnace.

• Molding or injection molding. Onlays are made from prefabricated, fused ceramic blocks that are subjected to high temperatures and pressures. To obtain the desired shape of the veneer, the dental technician builds a wax model of the block and uses it to fabricate the onlay framework.

• Milling. In this method, the dentist uses an optical impression of the prepared tooth, not a physical impression, to model the microprosthesis. The doctor does not take an impression of the teeth, but scans them with a 3D dental scanner. The veneer manufacturing process is fully automated. The veneer is cut out of the ceramic block with diamond burs using a computer-controlled machine.

How strong are porcelain veneers

Pressed ceramic veneers are almost as strong as tooth enamel; zirconia veneers are even stronger. If the doctor has done the job right - there are no cavities between the veneer and the surface, the edge of the veneer fits perfectly and there is no "step" - the tooth is properly protected from bacteria and external stimuli. In addition, veneer materials contain fluoride and other enamel-enhancing minerals.

Ceramic veneers: comments, advantages

Ceramic microprostheses:

• Lasts 3 to 4 times longer than composites: up to 15 years for porcelain, 20 years or more for zirconia.

• Does not discolor. Teeth do not darken, yellow, or become stained by pigments from food and drink.

• They have a natural look. Ceramic veneers are color-matched so that the shade is as close as possible to that of the natural tooth. The optical properties of ceramics - transparency and light reflection - are the same as those of enamel.

• It heals in 7-10 days. This is the maximum time. If the veneers are made by milling, the whole process takes 2-3 days.

• The teeth are not damaged. Although the surface must be prepared for the onlays, only a thin layer of enamel, 0.4 to 0.6 mm, is removed. The dentin and pulp are not affected, so there is no need to remove the dental nerve as with crowns.

For those who want a perfect smile, ceramic veneers are the best solution. This has been proven by numerous testimonials from our patients.

Veneers and Lumineers - what is the difference

Lumineers is the patented name for ultra-thin veneers that are 0.2 mm thick. The patent is held by the American company DenMat. Lumineers, like other types of ultra thin veneers, can only be used on teeth that are uniformly white and have a perfectly flat surface. They are so thin and translucent that they cannot hide visible enamel stains or dark fillings. They cannot correct tooth shape defects. Therefore, lumineers and their analogues are used less frequently than conventional veneers in cosmetic dentistry.

What is digital smile design

Digital smile design or digital veneers is the visualization of the result before treatment begins. Patients know in advance what their smile will look like with veneers because they see their before and after photos. The procedure is as follows:

• At the first appointment, the patient tells the dentist what defects in the teeth he or she wants to correct and what result he or she expects. The dentist makes a video report of the current state of the teeth using a 3D scanner. If the patient has a particular bite, the dentist uses a bite fork so that the simulation takes into account the dynamics of the bite.

• The photos are loaded into the program to create a 3D model of the teeth and the most interesting part begins - the simulation of the new smile. Both the doctor and the patient are involved in the process. When both parties are satisfied with the result, the impressions of the teeth and the created 3D model are sent to a dental laboratory. The dental technician creates prototype veneers for a preliminary fitting. The "test" veneers are placed without preparing the teeth. If the patient is satisfied with the treatment, the doctor orders permanent veneers and places them.

Patients often wonder is smile design worth it after learning about the costs. You can learn about it in the linked blog post.

How to choose the right veneers

The correct veneers are onlays that correct existing defects in the teeth. Only a dentist can determine which microprosthetic restorations are needed in a specific situation. The doctor offers several options at different prices, and the patient chooses the one that is right for them.

If you compare composite veneers to ceramic veneers, the latter are definitely better. They are more expensive, but their beauty, strength and durability are incomble to those of veneers made of fillings.

Frequently asked questions about veneers

Which is better: veneers or restorations?

Veneers are a prosthetic restoration. Unlike dental restorations, they are not used to restore damaged or decayed teeth. They are different areas of cosmetic dentistry for different problems.

Which is better - a veneer or a crown?

A veneer is used when a whole, healthy tooth with no critical defects needs to be beautified. Crowns are used when a tooth is severely damaged or its shape is so irregular that a thin veneer cannot correct it. As in the previous case, these structures are used to solve various dental problems.

Are there any special care instructions for veneers?

Veneers do not require any special care. Good hygiene and good maintenance of the teeth are enough to keep a bright smile.