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Do Porcelain Veneers Ruin Your Teeth?

November 26, 2019

There are many misconceptions about porcelain veneers, but perhaps MOST common is that porcelain veneers ruin your teeth.  To be fair, the short answer is “maybe”, and that is where it becomes difficult from a consumer standpoint.  Yes, we are irreversibly removing “some” tooth structure (generally, as much as we need.  Sometimes little to none, but sometimes ½ mm or more).  Even if NO tooth structure is removed, if the decision to remove the veneers at a later date is made, the process to remove the veneers will remove some tooth structure as well.

Is removing tooth structure a BAD thing?  Some dentists will passionately say yes, while others are more indifferent.  If the REPLACEMENT of tooth structure is poorly done, then yes, I think everyone would agree that it was a bad thing.  However, if done properly, well prepared teeth and well bonded porcelain veneers can last a VERY long time (perhaps a lifetime).

Proper Tooth Preparation for Porcelain Veneers

Less is more.  That is a common phrase with many intentions.  In THIS case, it simply means that the less tooth structure we must remove, the more we have later if we need to remake or redo the case.  If a dentist is aggressive with removal of enamel and dentin, the NEXT dentist will have less to manage.  It MAY even appear that the first dentist was “great” and the next dentist is “less than”, and it may be the opposite.

So how much enamel removal IS needed?  If teeth are perfectly aligned, maybe none.  However, the result MAY feel bulky.  A more common approach is to remove 0.3-0.5mm of tooth, and the porcelain restoration would be the exact same thickness.  This means “net zero” or no change in tooth size/thickness and would feel very natural.

Bulky porcelain veneers replaced with better fitting veneers

As Much As Needed

Sometimes, the tooth itself tells us how much to remove.  The most common way or reason is when the patient wants a bright white smile.  If the natural tooth itself is very dark, then this color would “shine through”, so in order to get the desired color, we must remove MORE enamel/dentin to allow the restoration to be thick enough to block out the natural color.

Another reason is due to previous dentistry.  It is very common that teeth have already “had work done” and the porcelain veneers are an upgrade of sorts.  If a tooth already has a large filling, then the porcelain veneer, crown, or onlay will need to be larger than normal.  If restored properly, this is not a significant issue.

Properly Bonded Porcelain Veneers

This is where it gets tricky.  Every dentist has “their way”.  It stands to reason that “their way” should be similar/identical to the manufacturer’s instructions, but that isn’t always the case.  I will go on record and say that if you find a dentist that reads the instructions from the box that his materials came from, you likely have found a dentist that has work that lasts longer and is more comfortable than other dentists that do things “off label”.

Traditionally, the tooth surface is etched in order to accept the primer and bonding agent during the bonding process.  Some more recent materials combine the etch with the primer, but these products may not last as long as more traditional materials.  Get a group of dentists in a room, they will debate this step for years….!

The enemy to the bonding process is moisture.  To a degree.  Common problems are blood contamination, saliva contamination, and anything else that would spoil the bonding process.  This is why a good dentist will use isolation to control the amount of moisture present.  If moisture is the enemy, one would think that totally dehydrated teeth would be best; however, this isn’t true.  We need the tooth “sorta moist”, so there IS a level of moisture needed to bond the porcelain veneer.

Disinfectants and Desensitizers

When the tooth is ready to be bonded to, it is common to place solutions that “soothe” the tooth and disinfect. 

Not all dentists do this step, some claim it is not necessary, but I feel that the end result is more comfortable and longer lasting.  With an investment like a porcelain veneer smile makeover, we do our best so that our patients get the best value, and part of that is that they last as long as possible.


It is not unusual for a patient to feel that they replaced all of their teeth and no longer need to brush or floss.  “Why would I?  My teeth are gone!” 

This isn’t true.  The teeth are still there, they are simply covered up, or partially covered.  If you don’t want to have porcelain veneers ruin your teeth, be sure to brush, floss, visit your dentist as recommended and follow ALL advice from your dental office.

Seattle Porcelain Veneer White Smile Makeover

November 25, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — drtimmerman @ 2:19 pm

We have found that one of the best investments that people can make for themselves is the gift of a smile.  I don’t mean “a healthy mouth” but an actual smile makeover that turns heads!  But what does that MEAN?

I have found that the “perfect smile” means something different to EVERYONE

White Smile

Did you know that there are at LEAST 50 shades of grey?   And that the human eye can distinguish 500 shades?  I’m not sure that I could PERSONALLY distinguish them, but that is what I am told…. 

So what about white?  When people ask me for a white smile, what does that mean?  How white do you want?  Is it possible to be TOO white?  The “right” answer is a personal opinion, as I have delivered beautiful smiles that for ME seemed too white, but my patient LOVED the result.

Have YOU thought about a white smile, and WHAT white you would like?  Is “mother of pearl” too yellow, or is that about right?

And for the record, there are 52 shades of white….

Perfect Smile

There is actually some math involved when designing a smile.  I know, we all insisted (were maybe even CERTAIN) when we were in school learning Algebra that the real world would have no need.  Yet, as we age, we see math EVERYWHERE.  Case in point: smile design.  Designing a perfect smile includes considering the overall face and looking for balance and symmetry.  While NOTHING is perfectly symmetrical, we do our best to create symmetry whenever we CAN.

The lips ideally cover 1-2 mm of enamel at the gumline when smiling, the incisal edges of the two front teeth should be 21-25 mm from the bottom of the nose, the width of the central tooth should be 1.6 times as wide as the lateral, the height vs width should be 78%…. 


There are famous numbers that we were taught in life: Pi is 3.14, Avagadro’s number is 6.022×10^23, the Fibonacci Sequence or the Phi Matrix is 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, … 

The latter number is what trained cosmetic dentists use to create what is commonly called “Golden Proportions” or the “Golden Ratio”. The math involved is 1.6, shown here:

This is a common ratio we see all throughout nature:

It stands to reason that if we can design a smile with THIS math, our eyes/brain will see the smile as “beautiful”.

Proper Design

If we design a smile in advance, it will appear something like this:

From THIS starting point, we can personalize a smile and deliver the best possible outcome.

How much DOES a perfect smile cost?

Well, THAT is the $64,000 question, isn’t it? Ironically, it COULD cost $64,000…..

Most of the time, it won’t be THAT much. The vast majority of smiles deal with 8-10 teeth so the cost will likely be closer to $15,000 to $20,000 but each and every case is different.

Dental Exam

There is NO substitute for a dental exam. This is not merely a conversation, but also a collection of diagnostic records, photos, and any necessary data to assess the situation and then render an opinion on what it would take to achieve YOUR goal.

Conservative Smile Makeover

January 18, 2017

Filed under: Blog,Cosmetic Dentistry,Smile Makeovers,Teeth Whitening — Tags: — drtimmerman @ 7:47 am

Conservative Smile Makeover

A conservative smile makeover is sometimes unsatisfactory. While it is not uncommon to treat MANY teeth when doing a complete smile makeover, sometimes we can be creative to be conservative. Combining treatments can give a fantastic outcome, if not ideal. Most people, when making over their smile, want whiter teeth, better shapes, and better alignment. This led to the process commonly called “ABB”, or “Align, Bleach, and Bond.”

Align, Bleach, Veneer

In this case shared here, instead of “bonding” (a term often incorrectly used to describe composite tooth colored material bonded to teeth), there were 3 veneers already in place, the two front upper centrals, and the lower lateral (looks short, making an uneven gumline).

Simply remaking the veneers wouldn’t be enough, the color wasn’t bright enough, so whitening of the other teeth was needed. But the lower tooth situation wouldn’t be solved simply by replacing the veneer, and contouring the gums wouldn’t last due to the alignment. The existing veneer on the lower tooth was driving the patient crazy due to how thick it was to make it “appear” in alignment so the tooth needed to move (or be extracted and a bridge or implant placed, a pretty extreme option).

Braces for a single tooth

When given the option of braces AGAIN (earlier in life, orthodontic treatment had been completed), the patient was reluctant (nice way of saying REFUSED). But the idea of an Inman Aligner, for less cost and less time, was a game changer. Gentle movement with a removable device allowed the tooth to move into place in a matter of weeks.

Single tooth porcelain veneer

Once in alignment, a single veneer was need to finish the case. With some laser contouring of the gums and a final retainer, our patient had a new smile: Whiter, straighter, and more ideal shapes.
And saved THOUSANDS of dollars.