The Specialist

Dental veneers enhance the attractiveness of front teeth

In my last column, I addressed what teeth whitening can do for your smile. However, what if your teeth do not get white enough, or you don’t like the shape of your front teeth?

Dental veneers are the answer for healthy teeth that are not aesthetically pleasing to the patient.

Dental veneers have become popular over the years due to increased patient demand for cosmetic dentistry. They have been the feature on popular extreme makeover shows. Most patients have heard about veneers but what are they and could you be a suitable candidate?

Veneers are custom-made coverings of tooth-colored material designed to cover the front surface of your teeth to improve their appearance. I tend to compare them to false fingernails that are glued directly over your existing nail. The results are instant and dramatic.

They can be used on healthy teeth that are discolored, chipped, uneven, worn down or irregularly shaped. They are also done to close small gaps between teeth. Veneers are made very thin, so that only a minimal amount of healthy tooth structure needs to be removed to create an esthetic veneer.

To determine if veneers are the best treatment option for you, your dentist will first need to discuss what you would like to improve and your expectations. Impressions of your existing teeth should be taken prior to preparing your teeth for veneers. These diagnostic models made from your existing teeth serve many functions. Your dentist can improve your chipped teeth on the models by tooth-colored wax on each of the teeth. This is called a “wax-up”. The wax-up gives you a visualization of what is important to get to your desired results. Both you and your dentist can see what can be achieved – and both of you have the chance to critique and adjust the wax-up as desired before you start treating the teeth themselves.

Once a treatment plan is developed, the next step is tooth preparation. Oftentimes, limited or no dental anesthetic is needed due to minimal amounts of tooth structure that is removed. Once your dentist is satisfied with your tooth preparations, he or she will take a final impression. Then, you should leave the office with temporary veneers. Although these won’t be as beautiful as the final restoration, they do give you the opportunity to assess the shape and length of what the final veneers could look like. Your temporaries can also be adjusted to your desired liking – and when you and your dentist are in complete agreement, a photo and a model of the adjusted temporaries are sent to the laboratory. The lab then creates your final veneers based upon those temporaries.

The next appointment will be to deliver your veneers. The “temps” will be removed and the final veneers will be placed on your teeth with a special permanent bonding agent.

Veneers are an excellent cosmetic option if you are unhappy with your smile. With veneers, your teeth can be whiter, straighter and more aesthetically pleasing in a few weeks. Also, with proper care and good oral hygiene, they will last a very long time.

• Dr. Kendal V.O. Major is the founder and CEO of the Center for Specialized Dentistry, which is a comprehensive family dental practice operating in New Providence and Grand Bahama. He is the first Bahamian specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He is also a certified fast braces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue, New Providence. He can be contacted at (242) 325-5165 or

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