If you've recently received the disappointing news that your dental enamel is too thin for your teeth to be suitable for laser whitening treatments (or even at-home whitening strips), you may be worried that you're stuck with yellowed or discolored teeth forever. Having dental veneers placed over your most visible teeth can provide you with a bright and long-lasting smile that won't be nearly as vulnerable to the staining power of soda, coffee, or red wine -- however, you may be concerned that these veneers will change the shape of your smile and make it obvious you've had cosmetic treatment. How can you be sure that veneers are the right choice? Read on to learn some more about your options when it comes to whitening your smile in a subtle but permanent way.
Are veneers the right choice to permanently whiten your teeth?
When the outer enamel on your teeth wears thin due to erosion from food and drink acids, it allows the yellow dentin inside your tooth to show through. As a result, dental whitening strips and even laser whitening procedures performed in a dentist's office won't do much to change your tooth color -- even if your enamel is bright white, it won't disguise the dentin to prevent your teeth from appearing yellow.
One of the easiest ways to permanently whiten your teeth is to have them fitted with dental veneers. These veneers permanently fit over the surface of your natural teeth to correct any flaws with color, shape, or texture. Veneers are closely related to dental crowns, but are much thinner to more closely mimic the shape of your tooth and minimize the amount of drilling the dentist is required to do. In most cases, you'll need no special treatment after having the veneers placed and should even be able to eat and drink normally after just a few hours (although you'll want to avoid anything too hard, like nuts or popcorn). Because the veneer placement process doesn't usually require the dentist to pierce the enamel or come into contact with any of the nerves in your dental pulp, you shouldn't find yourself dealing with any pain or discomfort after the procedure.
In addition to improving the color of your smile, these veneers can improve the strength of your teeth. If you were dealing with thin-enough enamel that your dentin was showing, it's likely that your teeth were vulnerable to cracking or other stress damage from hard biting. Because veneers are made of a durable enamel and fused to your natural tooth, they provide additional strength and should be at least as long-lasting as (if not longer-lasting than) your natural teeth.
What can you do to ensure you'll be satisfied with your appearance after veneers?
If you've ever noticed a celebrity's dramatically altered appearance after getting dental veneers, you could be worried that you'll look too different after your procedure. While you want to whiten your teeth, you may not want to tip off friends or coworkers that you've had cosmetic dentistry performed. However, these obvious and overly large veneers are the exception, not the rule -- and with new technology available at many cosmetic dentists' offices, you'll be able to get an incredibly accurate 3D simulation of what you'll look like after getting veneers.
This software requires the upload of a current photo and the exact dimensions of the veneers your dentist plans to place. The program is then able to calculate the placement of these veneers in your mouth and provide you with an accurate image reflecting the final result. If you're unhappy with your simulated appearance, you and your dentist can work together to change the shape, size, or color of these veneers until you find some that provide the subtle improvement you're seeking.
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