Veneers – A porcelain layer of tooth to change the colour and shape of your front teeth!
Crowns – a full tooth cap version that comes both in metal and porcelain styles to protect the entire tooth. Its like wearing a cap, except your tooth is the head and your crown is the cap, cemented in permanently.
Why is it done?
Veneers – Calling all ladies who gets manicures, this one is for you! Just like acrylic nails, the same concept applies. When our natural tooth shape limits the aesthetic potential of the final smile results, veneers are porcelain shells cemented on your front teeth to give the best possible smile.
Crowns – More for function. When a root canal is done or a tooth is cracked, the tooth becomes weaker. So a crown encapsulates and hugs the entire tooth to protect it from the dangers of further damage especially when we are enjoying a good packet of almond nuts!
Can it last?
Veneers – Lasts 5 – 7 years theoretically (will link literature article) however it really depends on your lifestyle and diet! If you are a teeth grinder in your sleep, veneers are not such a good idea because the chances of them chipping or having hairline cracks are much higher.
Crowns – Lasts 10 years theoretically (will link literature article) however if lots of sticky sugary foods are taken and there is no flossing to remove these acids, chances are the crowns may not last as long because decay will creep in from underneath.
Moral of the story – Floss and brush well to optimize the longevity of your crowns and veneers!
Which is the best material for veneers and crowns?
There are no hard or fast rules with which is a better material but instead, we evaluate based on aesthetic demands, functional demands and also location! For example, unless you were snoop dog you probably would not want a gold front tooth. Or if you do then good for you, gold is historically proven to be the best dental material known to mankind.
Veneers – Two main materials include porcelain and composite veneers.
Porcelain ($$$$$) is far superior in aesthetic shine, contour and overall longevity in comparison to composite veneers due to the nature of the way it is glazed and heated in a furnace.
Composite ($$) is a good tooth coloured material that can be blended in to look natural though it loses its shine quickly and relies on regular polishing to maintain a natural glossy appearance.
Crowns – Three main materials included zirconia (all ceramic), porcelain fused to metal and metal crowns.
Zirconia and pure ceramics ($$$$$) such as EMAX porcelain are metal free. Zirconia is extremely opaque and hardy good for back teeth, while emax porcelain is more translucent good for front teeth. However the biggest downside to ceramics is that they tend to wear down the natural opposing tooth over time due to their abrasive nature.
Porcelain fused to metal crown ($$$) is the most popular choice. Why? Because it is semi aesthetic with porcelain on the outside to match its neighbouring teeth, as well as functional with metal on the inside which helps to protect the tooth within. The main draw back is that porcelain and metal are not cut from the same cloth, and as such over time the porcelain can chip off, exposing parts of the metal within the crown which some might mistake as decay or dirt.
Full metal crowns ($$$ – $$$$$) are the least popular choice due to their aesthetics. However, metal is known to be the most lasting crown material to put in the mouth. Stainless steel and gold are the 2 main metals used. However stainless steel can tarnish and rust over time. Gold is still the gold standard.
What to expect if I do a porcelain veneer?
It takes 2 – 3 visits depending on how many veneers are being done.
For example, for a single tooth veneer, it would be more straight forward and simple if the goal was to create symmetry and match the tooth beside it. However, for multiple teeth such as front 6 to 8 teeth, more time would be spent to create the correct shape and tooth dimensions so that the final product is tailored to your aesthetic goals.
Visit 1: Mock up – We do a trial version using temporary material to show what the shape of teeth with veneers could look like. A physical illustration per se, so that both dentist’s and patient’s goals are aligned.
Visit 2: Tooth preparation – This visit typically takes 45 minutes to 1 hour for 2 teeth, and can take longer if needed for more teeth. The top outer layer (enamel) of teeth is shaved off under local anaesthetic to create space for veneers to be fitted on. To be exact, 0.5mm to 0.8mm of tooth tissue is shaved off because this is the amount of space required for porcelain to be aesthetic yet retentive.
A mould or 3D scan of your teeth is taken to be sent to the lab so that customized veneers can be created. A temporary version of the veneers are cemented on.
Visit 3: Veneer cementation – Local anaesthetic is given (yes, an injection) so that the rest of the procedure is painless. Temporary veneers are removed, and porcelain veneers are cemented in. Bite and contacts are checked, and viola, your smile is complete.
What to expect if I do a composite veneer?
It takes 1 visit and is done chairside, i.e. freehand by the dentist. Sometimes we also have pre-fabricated veneers that can be used depending on shape and size desired.
Typically takes 30- 40 minutes per tooth. The composite material is a soft layer bonded to the tooth, and then hardens with a blue light that activates the hardening process. We then adjust and polish till an ideal smile is achieved.
How does it feel like to have veneers and how to make them last longer?
It takes 1 – 2 weeks to get used to veneers. Sensitivity to hot and cold drinks and foods is normal for the first 2 weeks but it should not get progressively worse. You really should not be biting into apples or doing anything to put unnecessary stress on your veneers because they are a THIN layer. No matter what the textbook says, environmental and habitual factors are the biggest determinant to the longevity of any dental work done.
What to expect if I get a crown done?
2 – 3 visits.
Visit 1: Tooth preparation – This visit typically takes 45 minutes to 1 hour for 1 tooth. The tooth is shaved to become smaller, to create space for the crown to be fitted on. To be exact, 0.5mm to 0.8mm of tooth tissue if its metal, and 1.5 to 2mm if its ceramic. This is the amount of space required for porcelain and metal to be lasting and retentive.
A mould or 3D scan of your teeth is taken to be sent to the lab so that a customized crown can be fabricated according to your bite. A temporary crown is cemented on.
Visit 2: Crown cementation –Temporary crown is removed, and the final crown is cemented in. Bite and contacts are checked, and viola, your smile is complete.
How does it feel like to have crowns and how to make them last longer?
Generally, a crown would take 1 – 2 weeks to get used to.
Theoretically, a gold crown can last for up to 20 years in the tooth and on average porcelain fused to metal crowns can last for up to 10 years. However, many components are at play to the success of keeping a crown in place. Several of these components include diet, oral hygiene habits and medical health. Having a dry mouth due to side effects from medication or smoking can lead to a higher risk of decay underneath the crowns. Flossing enables the surrounding gums to be healthy, and prevents the risk of food trap that can cause further decay even in a crowned tooth. Having a high calcium low acid diet can help to create a friendly pH neutral environment for crowns to live an inert and hopefully indefinite life in your mouth.
If I whiten my teeth, will my crowns and veneers get white too?
No, they will not because teeth whitening depends on a process that takes place to breakdown the molecular structure within living tooth tissue while crowns and veneers are inert substances.