Veneers: The Step-by-Step Process

Veneers allow cosmetic dentists to create the smile a patient has always dreamed of, yet it takes several steps to make it come to life. Dr. Rhonda Kalasho of GLO Modern Dentistry in Los Angeles explains the veneer process and the individual steps necessary to complete a stellar smile makeover. 

Veneers are the ideal solution for improving the appearance of virtually any part of the smile—including tooth size shape, size, length, color, alignment and more. Although one veneer can be used to restore one tooth if necessary, a full set of veneers provides a complete makeover—and there are several essential steps that are required in order to create a picture-perfect new smile.

Creating the vision
The smile design process is a collaboration between both the patient and cosmetic dentist, and the consultation is the patient’s opportunity to explain what they’d like to fix about their teeth. It’s also important for the patient to communicate the traits they desire, and photos of friends, family and even celebrities with smiles they find attractive are useful. If age has had an impact on the appearance of the teeth, photos of when patient when they were younger can help as well. Once the cosmetic dentist has an understanding of the patient’s goals, he or she can explain how they can be incorporated into a new smile while looking natural. In some cases, a cosmetic dentist may have additional suggestions that can help achieve the best possible results.

The test-drive
Veneers are an investment, so it’s imperative that the patient has an opportunity to get an exact preview of their smile makeover before the final porcelain shells are created and adhered to the teeth. Some dentists may create a life-sized replica of the teeth and use wax to illustrate what the smile will look like with veneers. A better option is choosing a cosmetic dentist who can create trial veneers that can be placed on the teeth. These are only for “trying on” in the office, but patients can leave with photos to show their family and friends.

Prepping the teeth
Once the dentist and patient have agreed on the final “smile design,” it’s time to prepare the teeth for the veneers. Depending on the starting state of the smile, this preparation may include polishing the teeth as well as removing enamel from the fronts, edges and/or sides of the teeth with a dental drill.

Creating the veneers
After the teeth are prepared, a mold is made and sent to the laboratory where the porcelain veneers will be created. These can take up to five to seven business days for the certified ceramicist to create, and in the meantime, patients wear temporary veneers that are affixed to the teeth so they can go about their usual activities (although it’s important to eat and chew with extreme care). This is an important step of the veneer process, as the patient must be 100 percent sure they are happy with both their look and function. Then, another mold will be made with the temporary veneers, which is sent to the lab along with photographs as well.

The end results
When the final veneers are ready, they are securely cemented to the teeth—where they will stay for 10 years or more. However, patients but be extremely mindful and careful to protect their veneers. It’s important to avoid biting through apples or baguettes, and patients are generally cautioned against biting through anything with the front teeth to preserve the integrity of the veneers for many years. Patients may also be advised to wear a night guard to protect their investment. Beyond a fully customized smile, the true beauty of veneers is that they are highly resistant to stains and appear as if the patient was born with their new-and-improved teeth.

It’s important that patients understand that once they get veneers, they will need veneers for life, as the tooth preparation that is performed is not reversible. This is also why it’s essential that patients seek an experienced cosmetic dentist with an artistic eye who understands the elements of a beautiful smile and knows how to achieve a natural-looking final outcome that enhances the overall appearance of the face.