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Porcelain Veneers: How Long Do They Last? Benefits & Risks
Porcelain Veneers: How Long Do They Last? Benefits & Risks

An unguarded smile isn’t easy when dental imperfections bring a constant undertow of self-doubt.

They can be genetic, or the result of laxity, naivety, or lack of opportunity in the realm of personal oral care. However it occurred, for a lot of people it brings a long term negative impact that often involves a sense of shame, affecting the way they move through life: not expecting that job offer, not making that approach because of the way they feel about themselves is the way they think others see them.

Reference Maksymilian Faktorowicz and for most there is no spark of recognition and the astute may very well work it out. Suggest Hollywoodland and there’s the understanding of where you mean, even if knowledge of this original name isn’t there.

Mention Max Factor and Hollywood and everyone knows what you’re talking about.

It was the partiality for perfection held by both man and concept, that brought about the first dental veneers. Max Factor’s Hollywood glamour make-up could reframe and refocus any facial flaw with his skilled transformation of the naturally unremarkable – Ava Gardiner, Marlene Dietrich, Lucille Ball.

What the cosmetics Max Factor had developed couldn’t do was camouflage dental defects; which prompted Max Factor to consult his dentist friend Dr Charles L. Pincus.

Eventually referred to as the Dentist of the Stars and dying aged 82 in 1986, Pincus was a pioneer of cosmetic dentistry. 1928 marked the advent of “the talkies” and the industry for actors who not only spoke well, but were beautiful and handsome as well began.

Hollywood enticed many stage actors from New York, and unsurprisingly for the time, few had teeth that were not decayed, missing or crooked.

Prior to the idea of veneers you just had to suck it up. (Or not. Depending on the resulting effect on being able to use a straw.)

The only option really was dentures.

Dr Pincus was called in as a special consultant by Max Factor, and the Westmore brothers of legendary and generational makeup fame. Their aim was to correct what make-up could not: to develop a means of correcting faulty smiles overnight so actors and actresses would photograph well.

Pincus first devised temporary prosthetics that were held onto teeth with denture powder. They were lucky to last the average day, let alone the 10-to-15 years modern dentistry now affords. Luckily the longest film shoot – 31 years (1964-1995) – was an animation with no exhausted dentist harmed in the making of the film. (The Thief And The Cobbler.)

Porcelain veneers are tooth-coloured “shells” irreversibly and permanently affixed the face of the tooth in order to hide any and every flaw – a chip, a gap, a misalignment – and create the appearance of perfectly straight, pearl-white teeth.

Like any child, eight-year-old Shirley Temple lost her baby teeth, but as a recipient of Pincus’ artistry was never photographed with spaces or emerging secondary teeth. All veneers at the time were removed during eating and sleeping. The Tooth Fairy certainly should have renegotiated payment terms for the years of inconvenience so that being On The Good Ship Lollipop was a sweet trip to the candy shop with no mention ever of the dentists involved.

It was the gaps between Judy Garland’s front teeth concealed by Pincus with his slip-on Hollywood veneers that really had the public excited about the idea of the perfect smile. Although The Wizard of Oz is not the first technicolour movie – that accolade belongs to 1935’s Becky Sharp starring versatile American actress Miriam Hopkins. Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer’s Oz was the first big production to bring fantasy alive. It drew crowds during the Depression, and in it Pincus’ work looks outstanding.

Garland would have toto had a feeling her teeth weren’t Kansas anymore.

Time and technology broaden the contenders for the best cosmetic dentist in the world now, the position held for decades by Dr Charles (Fix-My-Choppers) L. Pincus; who still considered the most proficient and luminous of his time. He established the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry where he developed and adapted the techniques and materials in cosmetic dentistry used throughout the world, because of his innate belief that aesthetics affect a person’s entire approach to life.

Inducted into the USC Dental Hall of Fame in 1981, his patients (along with Shirl of the curl) included James Dean, Montgomery Clift, Robert Taylor, Fanny Brice, Mae West, Joan Crawford, Edith Head, Barbara Stanwyck, Walt Disney, Jack Benny, and Bob Hope.

Big names to many, unknown by some; all legends of the silver screen who may very well not have been part of the early Hollywood star system were it not for the expertise of one Charles L. Pincus. Celebrity teeth can only ever be perfect or perfectly memorable – think Steve Buscemi. Never a leading man. Always foremost in his films.

Over 85 years, veneers have gone from temporary dental makeovers for the privileged to last just a few hours, to permanent prosthetics within the reach of many.

It is a permanent dental procedure, and as with any procedure it’s often necessary for some patients to be excluded from veneers as a corrective option. Both untreated gum disease and bruxism diminish the possibility of quality work with an adequate minimum lifespan in terms of the porcelain laminate.

Creating quality, well fitting veneers and attaching them requires specialist skills because these prosthetics are there, in your mouth, doing teethy things over and over and over every day for a minimum of fifteen years.

Twenty, if you give up hard livin’ hard chewin’ and hard crunchin’.

Hard!

Where once porcelain was the only available material, now composite resin is less expensive and more easily repaired other permanent option. As with all compromises, the trade-off in price is that it has less than half the durability, and lacks the aesthetic nuance of porcelain, while both have specific vulnerabilities.

Porcelain is expensive if you ignore the annual cost over the average of 15-20 years these veneers will last, and with comparatively minimal maintenance. Minimal maintenance is 2-minute brushing twice a day, 3-monthly brush replacement, 6-monthly dental check-ups and proper flossing every night because veneers are not just for Christmas.

They’re for life.

Porcelain is by far the best dental material for the replication of natural teeth. Its stain resistance and impressively natural looking light refraction are what makes them indistinguishable from real perfect teeth.

Which volunteers an interesting thought … for what reason are veneers are not made from real teeth?

Putting aside any gory donor questions, ethics and availability, if a perfectly good tooth fell out or had to be removed for orthodontic reasons and a veneer was also needed, could a dental technician make you one from your own donor tooth? A dead tooth won’t decay, so it’s not as if it wouldn’t last. And it’s not as if it’ll be rejected by your mouth.

Again.

Somewhere is a grant to research that. And the possible development of the ultimate, most cost effective dental veneer.

Most definitely its tagline would be “…because there’s nothing more like a real tooth than a real tooth.”

Veneers are not invulnerable. Nor does the Tooth Fairy pull the old team together just to whack ‘em in overnight.

Your dentist makes an impression of your teeth for the dental technician to craft the perfectly appropriate, thin ceramic shells. They’re temporarily fitted so any alterations can be done to ensure the ideal shape, colour match and bite alignment.

It’s not a technically simple procedure. Dentists who offer veneers should be specifically trained, experienced, and committed to their work. It takes expertise to properly perform the procedure. Not like a guy with the tattoo kit he bought online because he’s pretty good at drawing.

Local anaesthetic is administered before bonding, and the relevant teeth are chemically etched and finely reshaped for maximum fit and surface adherence. Light is then used to cure the cement, and even after the pre-fit where modifications were made, it’s not uncommon for finer reshaping to be done during the procedure.

Naturally there is manageable tooth and mouth soreness and sensitivity for a few days, with veneers involving adjustment by the gum, which is why there is always a follow-up appointment a few weeks later.

..And on-going maintenance in order to get 20 years out of ‘em.

Like a car you want to last and in good order. Regular cleaning. Regular check-ups. Not risking the toughage and not taking on the roughage.

Porcelain veneers are not impervious to rough treatment like a shield of steel on your jacketed teeth. If you have to remind yourself that there’ll be no more opening bottles with them it’s probably the reason for the veneers in the first place.

No more chomping on raw veggies or crisp fruits without cutting them up first; no more nuts and basically no more hard chewy for you-ee.

Alcohol softens the bonding cement of the veneer. It’s not to say it will spontaneously drop into your espresso martini, it simply means that exposure to alcohol renders it more susceptible to damage, erosion and staining.

On the upside, it’s brilliant excuse to exit the boring dinner party or family gathering. “One more drink and I’ll be seeing two dentists…”

Alcohol is certainly found in the majority of toothpastes and mouthwashes and porcelain veneers demand they be alcohol-free.

Porcelain veneers probably like Dry January as well.

Coffee, tea, wine and cigarettes, the four pillars of 21st century living will discolour veneers over time. There is a fairy tale, not created or endorsed by the Tooth Fairy, that drinking through a straw remedies this ruinous risk. The part of the tale completely lost in the retweet-story-swelling-telling, is that the straw is in fact a trunk and it is a true story for elephants only. It is an extended metaphor about reaching the last straw about the straw man straw story about the super power of the straw.

Man.

A rethink of consumptions and lifestyle routines might be in order in the saving of the skin of your porcelain skin. Whether you like it or not, the reality is that any identifiable change needed is always going to support better overall health.

As an ongoing side effect, the decision to maintain the veneer of those pearly veneers is ultimately a really good thing. (In the same way veneers of real enamel and dentine could possibly be…)

With porcelain veneers as much about artistry as they are about dental science, the benefits and the risks are as much about an investment in aesthetics as they are about the high dividend of a spirited sense of self.

Note: All content and media on the New Gisborne Dental House website and social media channels are created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.

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