Porcelain Veneers or Laminates


Porcelain Veneers or Laminates


Porcelain laminates are thin shells of porcelain that are designed to seat on the front of teeth, to improve tooth color or tooth shape. Porcelain by its very nature is brittle, but when bonded to tooth structure becomes increasingly strong. Although not as conservative as bleaching, porcelain laminates are still more conservative than many other procedures that have been done in the past to improve dental esthetics.


Porcelain laminates have several major advantages over other bonding techniques in improving tooth esthetics. First and foremost, porcelain laminates are stain resistant. One doesn’t have to worry about a change of color over the years and due to the smooth porcelain surface, any stain that does occur, will not penetrate the porcelain and can be easily removed. Also porcelain is very similar to enamel in the way it reflects light. Enamel is translucent and allows light to penetrate through it until it reaches the inner nonpenetratable tooth structure, which reflects the light back out. Porcelain allows light to penetrate in a similar way. It will go through the procelain until it hits the resin cement or inner tooth structure, at which point the light will reflect back out. Finally porcelain laminates are very versatile. They can be used in lieu of minor orthodontic treatment to correct minor rotations, gaps or misalignments. They also can be used to mask over extremely discolored teeth from root canals, older fillings to severe tetracycline staining. In general, they can be used to correct almost any minor tooth defect.


As mentioned, porcelain laminates aren’t as conservative as bleaching. To be done properly, a certain amount of tooth structure will need to be trimmed back. The amount varies, but it usually amounts to a half to two-thirds of a millimeter reduction. This is the usual thickness of a porcelain laminate. Although there are dentists who place laminates on teeth without tooth reduction, the reduction is necessary to maintain healthy gums around the tooth. Tooth reduction also prevents the tooth from having a fat or over bulked appearance. Laminates usually involve two visits, and once bonded in place, lingering sensitivity resulting from the tooth reduction will usually dissipate. Another disadvantage is cost. Since they are considered to be cosmetic procedures, dental insurance will not usually cover the expense. The cost of a laminate varies by geographical area, but typically will cost close to one thousand dollars each. Laminates, when done, usually involve multiple teeth. Therefore, placing porcelain laminates, is an expensive out of pocket proposition for most people.


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