What are Porcelain Veneers?

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Dental veneers are a cosmetic dentistry procedure to create a Hollywood smile by filing away a part of your original tooth and covering it with a porcelain shell or cap. The same effect can also be achieved with composite veneers whereby instead of a cap the space created by filing away the original tooth is filled with composite resin. A dental veneer can be made of porcelain or composite resin bonded to the tooth enamel with dental cement.

Porcelain is a ceramic made by heating kaolin (a form of clay) up to temperatures of 1400 Celsius. At such high temperatures molecules of glass and the mineral mullite form within the porcelain and it is these that give it its strong and translucent qualities. Porcelain is particularly well suited for dental veneers because it has a very low permeability (it is the porous nature of enamel that allows intrinsic staining). Porcelain is also easy to file and shape into thin caps to fit over the teeth.

Porcelain’s durability means that porcelain veneers can last for a long time, up to 15 years. They do require taking care of by maintaining good oral hygiene and being careful not to bite very hard objects with them. Their translucence means that they are a good substitute for tooth enamel and look natural in the mouth, so your Hollywood smile looks real. A benefit of both porcelain and composite veneers is that they do not hugely alter the structure of the teeth and mouth, they work with what is there.

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