What Happens if I Damage or Lose a Porcelain Veneer?
At Designer Smiles, we are experts at creating beautiful smiles with porcelain veneers. We don’t want our smiles to be just beautiful; we want them to be long-lasting. Porcelain veneers can last for many decades, when you care for them properly.
We want you to know everything you need to know about porcelain veneers so your smile lasts a lifetime.
What is a Porcelain Veneer?
A porcelain veneer is a thin layer of porcelain that covers the visible surface of a tooth. Porcelain closely mimics natural tooth structure, and it can recreate and transform the color, shape, and size of a tooth. Your dentist can even make apparent improvements in minor crowding or spacing of the teeth with porcelain veneers.
Your dentist attaches the thin layer of porcelain onto the tooth with a dental adhesive material that bonds to hard tooth structure.
How Can You Damage a Porcelain Veneer?
Porcelain is strong and beautiful, but it is brittle. With the wrong forces, you can chip, break, or crack porcelain veneers. We see this commonly in patients who clench and/or grind their teeth at night and do not wear a protective nightguard.
Patients also tend to break veneers when they use their front teeth as tools (i.e. opening packages, holding hair pins, or cutting fishing line).
When using your teeth in normal function (chewing, speaking, laughing), there is no risk for chipping, cracking or breaking the porcelain. It is only when the teeth withstand higher than normal forces that you can damage your veneers.
What Should You Do if You Damage a Porcelain Veneer?
If you happen to notice that one of your veneers has chipping or a visible crack, you need to make an appointment to see us. Unfortunately, porcelain is not a repairable dental material. When it cracks or breaks, it requires total replacement. (By “total”, we mean each individual tooth, not that you must replace all of your veneers.)
Your dentist will remove your broken veneer and clean the underlying tooth structure. Then she will take a digital impression of the prepared tooth and the surrounding veneers. Your dentist will work closely with the lab technician to match the existing veneers perfectly. You will wear a temporary veneer for a few weeks while the lab makes the porcelain veneer, and then you will return for its final placement.
How Can You Lose a Porcelain Veneer?
Sometimes, instead of breaking or cracking the porcelain, abnormal forces will cause a problem called debonding. This occurs when the forces are strong enough to break the bond between the veneer and the tooth structure. When a veneer debonds, it comes off from the tooth in one piece.
The most common cause of debonding is consistent clenching and/or grinding of the teeth without nightguard protection. The heavy forces over time contribute to weakening and eventually breaking the bond between porcelain and tooth.
Another potential cause of veneer loss is new decay that develops on the tooth under the veneer. When you get a cavity on the side of a tooth, the decay process breaks the bond between porcelain and tooth structure. Porcelain cannot bond to anything but healthy, hard tooth structure. It will not bond to decay, which is soft and weak.
What Should You Do If You Lose a Porcelain Veneer?
When we say “lose”, we mean that it has fallen off the tooth. We do not mean “lose” as in cannot find. In fact, the first step if you have a veneer fall off is to make sure you put it in a safe place where it cannot be lost or broken before you get to the dentist. This is very important and drastically changes the cost and extent of needed treatment.
If the veneer falls off, and you have it in a safe place, you simply return to the dentist for re-cementation. Your dentist will clean both the veneer and the tooth structure in order to create a new bond with new dental cement.
If you do not have the veneer, (perhaps you swallowed it or misplaced it) the procedure is much more involved. You must go to the dentist for fabrication of a new veneer, as well as coverage of the tooth by a temporary veneer. You will have to cover the cost of the veneer’s replacement.
Can You Prevent Damage and/or Loss of Porcelain Veneers?
We always try to prevent problems rather than wait for them to occur and fix them. Prevention is less expensive and time-saving in the long run. Here are the most important ways you can protect your porcelain veneers and promote the longest lifespan possible.
Wear a Nightguard
If you have any habits of clenching or grinding of your teeth, your dentist will be able to see evidence of it inside your mouth. Not everyone is aware of a clenching or grinding habit.
The risk of damaging or losing a porcelain veneer from clenching or grinding is very high, so consistent nightly wear of a protective mouthguard is very important. The best nightguard is one custom-made by your dentist. This will give you the most durable and comfortable fit of any type of mouthpiece. If you have problems regularly wearing a nightguard, talk to Dr. Ann. She can address the issues you are having and help you achieve consistent use of your professional nightguard.
Maintain Great Oral Hygiene
It is important to protect the tooth structure underneath the veneers with great home care. Dental plaque causes both cavities and gum disease. You must remove it effectively and consistently through great brushing and flossing techniques.
This will reduce your risk for dental problems and prevent problems with your veneers.
Keep Consistent Check-Up Visits with Your Dentist
Home care is an essential part of preventing dental problems, but it does not work alone. You must add consistent professional care to maintain optimal dental health. Professional teeth cleanings on a twice yearly basis are necessary to remove any plaque and tartar buildup that you cannot remove.
Your dentist evaluates the health of the teeth and the dental work at each preventive care visit. She can spot red flags of potential problems and help you take additional preventive measures to stop cavities and cracks before they start.
When you work with your dentist and dental hygienist, you can protect your veneers for life!
More Questions about Porcelain Veneers?
Call Designer Smiles today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Ann. She can answer every question you have about porcelain veneers and ways to give yours the best lifespan. We love helping our patients maintain beautiful, designer smiles for a lifetime.