Business people know the importance of a great smile, but teeth can wear down over time and your enamel can discolor. And that’s when many of us consider porcelain dental veneers. These are thin shells that are laid onto the teeth and bonded to the surface.
Although veneers can be made of different materials, porcelain is the best option for its durability and realistic appearance. They also require less removal of the tooth’s original surface. Dental veneers have come a long way in the last two decades.
I needed porcelain veneers for dental health and restorative reasons — important for preserving my teeth. It was also an opportunity to have a smile makeover that would result in natural-looking, straighter, whiter and more even teeth that will last a long time.
How many? 14 — eight on top and six on the bottom.
My Dental Veneers (Temporary and Porcelain Veneers):
Many people get veneers for their own reasons or those that are similar to mine, and I know that I’m not alone in getting them. According to a 2013 state of the industry by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, veneers are the third most frequently performed procedure by cosmetic dentists (coming behind crowns and bonding). 64% receive 4 or more veneers while 20% get veneers for their entire smile zone (as I did). About 60% of cosmetic dentistry patients are female and 40% are male. And 56% who get veneers are between the ages of 31-50.
Choosing Dental Veneers
If you’re going to consider veneers, it’s really critical that you select a highly experienced cosmetic dentist. Mine? Sheldon Seidman, DDS, of Smile Chicago. Dr. Seidman is committed to using the finest technology and materials, and he’s a highly recognized cosmetic dentist in the Chicago area. And that’s why I also deferred to his recommendation for the best shape and shade of white that would meet my needs. My final veneers began with a tooth shade that was similar to my original teeth, but with a bleach color added to it. It’s actually a few shades down from the brightest so that they appear natural.
Before making the decision, my hygienist Cheryl had mentioned along the way that I would likely be an excellent candidate for veneers. I also discussed my interest in obtaining veneers and discussed the appropriate options with Dr. Seidman during one of my routine dental visits.
After I made the decision, I searched the web for stories of others who chose to get veneers. I wanted to know why they did it, what should I expect along the way, and how they felt about their results. To be sure, Dr. Seidman provides plenty of information on his web site and during his initial consultation (he has also been my regular dentist for more than 10 years, so I have developed a comfort level with his work).
If you’re also searching the web for similar stories and reading mine, I suspect you’re a bit like me, and you’ll find it helpful to learn as much as possible. That’s why I decided to also share my experience in case it helps others. (Plus, people who take care of their dental health are likely to also enjoy the other travel, hotel, spa and lifestyle reviews on our site.)
Because you’re probably wondering, I’ll jump to the end of the story at this point and let you know that I feel great about my final results.
The main work is scheduled in two appointments.
Preparing for Veneers: First Visit
Dr. Seidman started by taking photos of my existing teeth before beginning the work. I’m not completely sure why I’d like to keep those images, but maybe it’s a good reminder as to why I went through the time and expense. Then, it was time to get started.
He worked first on my upper teeth. While waiting for the anesthetic to fully take effect, Dr. Seidman made some adjustments to my bite and then removed the top layer of enamel. The result? “Instant orthodontics,” as he says.
What can you expect? Dr. Seidman used a mouth retractor, and his dental assistant Jackie worked the dental water jet and suction, and curing the bonding as needed. The time actually passed quickly and smoothly, and he was ready to focus on my bottom teeth — more anesthetic.
While that was taking time to kick in, I do have to admit that at one point I felt a bit of anxiety because the skin around my mouth was fully anesthetized, and I started to feel an itch. That may have been because a little of the initial anesthetic for the top of my mouth was slowly starting to wear off. I just didn’t expect that feeling.
After a few more minutes and when I was relaxed, Dr. Seidman returned and began preparing the lower teeth. Mine required much more anesthetic than the top to avoid feeling any pain from the removal of the outer layer of enamel.
Although I did glance at what remained of my teeth (and luckily it was a hazy view because I wasn’t wearing glasses at the time), my advice is to ignore the desire to look (as Dr. Seidman suggested). Then, temporary veneers were fitted and adjusted.
Impressions and photos are taken several times throughout the whole procedure. In total the appointment lasted about 3 hours and 45 minutes (much shorter than the anticipated five hours).
The Plastic Smile: Temporary Veneers
Temporary veneers are placed in on your teeth in a single layer, and this will help to ensure that they stay in place and not fall out between appointments. But, when you smile, people will only see a well-sculpted set of teeth that are a prototype for your final veneers — both in color and shape.
Based on the descriptions and posts offered on the web by others, I expected a sandy or rough set of temporary veneers. But mine were a little smoother than the way others have described their temporary veneers (it’s kind of like having a bad case of plaque covering your teeth).
However, I did feel a sense that they were pulling my top set of teeth together (reminding me of the days of my youth when I wore a retainer). But my lower teeth felt a bit more comfortable because the veneers were cemented individually (although that wasn’t intentional — it just happened that way when the mould was pulled off and Dr. Seidman worked to ensure they were secure).
I also expected some initial tooth sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures as others have warned, but didn’t experience much of that at all (maybe because I was being extra careful). There was a some sensitivity, but it’s nothing like the sharp nerve shocks just after a tooth whitening treatment. I was told that I could take any over the counter pain medication if needed for a day or so, but that wasn’t necessary.
Brushing my teeth seemed to be the biggest challenge because my gums were initially sensitive, and I was concerned that operating my Philips Sonicare toothbrush on the temporaries would result in loosening of the bonding. So, I used only my Sonicare brush on my teeth without turning it on (although I started using the Sonicare in action after a couple of days for my gums only). I relied on a clear colored mouthwash, and limited the use of floss to my remaining “original” teeth.
As it relates to what you can eat, I can assure you that your diet will need to change dramatically.
What Can You Eat with Temporary Veneers?
Surprising little, but you’re not going to starve.
Always remember that these aren’t meant to stay on your teeth forever. So, while they are securely in place when you’re in the dentist’s office, temporary veneers can fall out if you eat the wrong foods. You should avoid biting into anything that requires strong teeth for chewing, and that includes crusty breads, sandwiches, nuts, meats and other similar items.
You also need to keep in mind that temporary veneers are made of acrylic, so they can stain very easily. Even if you’re the most careful patient with temporary veneers, the color you see in the dentist’s office will not last very long, so definitely avoid anything that is red, brown and black. If you don’t want the food color on your teeth, my suggestion is that you should not eat it. That means you should avoid items like tomatoes, wine, soda, coffee/tea and chocolate (okay, I’ll admit it — I carefully had some chocolate using my back teeth during that time).
Your best rule of thumb is to stick with white and light colored foods and beverages. I relied heavily on mashed potatoes, rice, scrambled eggs, dairy products, light colored juices, protein drinks and water while I wore temporary veneers (plus my daily vitamins). Other suggestions include yogurt and cheeses.
While wearing temporary veneers and changing my diet, I lost a few pounds in the process — a nice bonus. (Porcelain veneers typically take less than two weeks, but due to my conflicting schedule, I went four weeks between appointments.) I had hoped to lose more during that time, but my diet was still a bit carb heavy.
Porcelain Veneers: Second Visit
I schedule a cleaning appointment roughly every four months, and my planned hygienist appointment was scheduled three days before my second visit. It’s completely optional, but worked out pretty well in my case. Cheryl was able to scrape below the gum line on my teeth and around the temporaries to reduce the amount of bacteria. It also served as an opportunity to take off some of the staining and brighten up my temporary smile.
That said, on the morning of my final appointment to receive my porcelain veneers, I wondered if I should feel a little nervous about what to expect or if I should feel excited. I chose the route of excitement. And I was prepared for what to expect with the anesthetic.
However, the appointment went much more quickly than I expected — nearly half the time of my first visit.
The majority of the tough work to prepare for my final set of veneers was already completed on the first visit.
My top teeth were prepared first. A few minutes after an injection of anesthesia on each tooth, Jackie began her work to remove the temporary veneers. I heard a few clicks and scrapes and the full set of temporaries were removed in what was probably less than a minute. I actually didn’t even know when she was finished, and expected it to be much more difficult.
The new veneers were temporarily put in place for me to view, and then it was time to cement them. After that, Dr. Seidman took a few minutes for me to relax and view the new set of upper teeth.
I actually appreciated that break because I wanted the upper teeth to have a few more minutes to recover from the anesthetic before injecting the lower teeth and experiencing that numb feeling on both the upper and lower lip and face.
But then it was time, and the process for the lower teeth mirrored the experience on the upper teeth. And he finished things off by polishing and adjusting for my bite.
In just two hours, my porcelain veneers were finished. They looked very real, but I definitely needed some time to adjust… the anesthetic needed to wear off, and my mouth was a bit traumatized by the process.
Dr. Seidman assured me that over the next couple of days that the teeth would start to feel much more comfortable. It would take one final appointment when he could make any final adjustments for my bite and veneers. I scheduled it two weeks later because of my personal schedule prevented me from returning prior to then.
Porcelain Veneers – First Two Weeks
Dr. Seidman was right: A few days after receiving my dental veneers my bite started to feel much more comfortable and the veneers started to feel like they were my own.
Within the first couple of days I was much more comfortable with eating regular foods, but will be honest that I still relied on soft and cooked vegetables, as well as ground meats. My teeth were still a little sensitive during the first week, but it became much easier as each day passed.
It was nice to be able to use floss again, but I relied mostly on the soft gum pics for the gums between my teeth because it felt a little painful to use the floss while my teeth and gums were still so tight. The soft gum pics are great to use anyway.
By the second week, my gums started to relax and my veneers began to feel like my own. To be sure, that feeling is a process that takes some time. But others who have had dental veneers also assured me in private that I’ll begin to treat them just like my original set, but without all of that wear and tear.
And it’s true. After getting veneers, you can eat just about anything you’d like, and they’ll stay in place. And the great news is that food and drinks will not stain your new teeth.
Minor Bite Adjustments
Two weeks after my veneers Dr. Seidman inspected my teeth and made minor bite adjustments. He also took some “after” photos which I have shared in my gallery above.
To be sure, minor issues can happen in about 7% of patients where “something” happens to the veneers. And because of the way I move my jawline, about a month into my veneers I did have a tiny, but visible chip that happened to one veneer, and a tiny but not visible issue to another.
Those were resolved with a little bit of minor smoothing of the veneers and another bite adjustment. However, if that doesn’t solve it, we can always replace switch them out with new veneers. But we’re giving the smile and bite adjustments some time to see if that will be necessary.
As each day passes, they get more and more comfortable.
Have you had dental veneers or are you considering them? Share your story here!