I co-founded Atlanta Dental Spa ten years ago, and I’ve been a cosmetic dentist in Atlanta for fifteen years. In that time, my procedures and technologies have drastically changed, however my care for my patients and my “chairside manner” are still rooted in delivering the very best dentistry to every patient. Still today, I start every smile with a consultation visit to answer my patients’ questions. Interestingly, the questions they ask now are almost the same questions my patients were asking me a decade ago. Here’s what I know that everyone wants to ask your dentist, answered.
How much of my natural tooth do you have to grind down?
The answer to this question varies drastically depending on who you choose to be your cosmetic dentist. In the past 5-10 years, the science and technology of cosmetic dentistry has changed drastically for those of us (cosmetic dentist “nerds”) who are dedicated to continuing education. That means that some of us go to many leading-edge courses to learn the new methods and technologies…and many self-proclaimed “cosmetic dentists” don’t. And, in the past 5-10 years the new methods, materials and technologies allow me to be extremely conservative with your teeth. We call it minimally invasive dentistry — and it is where no-prep veneers were born. My goal is to drill your teeth minimally or not at all. If needed, I simply reshape your teeth in a way that will eliminate crooked, crowded teeth, and that will allow for the best aesthetic result. If there are unhealthy parts of your teeth (cavities, old fillings, etc), then I will remove the unhealthy parts, of course. But when it comes to your healthy natural tooth structure, I preserve it like crazy.
We are able to build all of the beauty within that thin porcelain shell. I work with the top master ceramists in the country, because only they know how to work with porcelain this thin. The new porcelain technology allows us to use porcelain almost as thin as a contact lens.
How can I be sure my new smile won’t be fake, hollywood-white or look like chiclets?
My reply is always “I don’t want that for your smile either!!” And, honestly, I don’t want my name associated with those smiles. I want my patients to feel like they have the best smiles in town. Here’s some of what I do to ensure you love your results: First, I study teeth…specifically smiles. I attend courses, read literature, and study gorgeous smiles. It’s my laser focus. And I’ve been using my studies in practice for nearly 15 years, so I’ve gained a good bit of knowledge and experience. Still I continue to study and learn as much as I can get my hands on, knowing it will benefit my patients. Ask most people to draw teeth, and they’ll draw white rectangles. They’ll draw Chiclets. Natural teeth do NOT look like Chiclets!!! Natural teeth have a great depth of characteristics including different colors, translucencies, and textures. At the gumline there is a hint of color, and the tooth gets brighter as you move down toward the biting edge. As you near the biting edge, natural teeth have a bit of translucency and also some colorful specks.
What is the process and how long will it take?
From start to finish takes, on average, 4-6 weeks. Though you can be wearing your temporary veneers (1st version of your new smile) in one week. Sometimes, when a case needs to be rushed, we can get from start to finish in as little as 2-3 weeks. Your first visit with me is a consultation appointment where you will share with me your goals for your smile. Together, we will design a plan that best suits you and your goals. Then we will make some records (photos, models, etc) of your teeth so I can create the blueprint (called the “wax up”) for your new smile. After the blueprints are finished (1-2 weeks), you will see me for your “prep” visit. At your prep visit, I will shape your teeth (if needed) to fit your veneers. Also, at that visit, you will get your temporaries which designed from the blueprints. The aesthetic temporaries are gorgeous, so you walk out of your prep visit with a spectacular new smile designed according to your goals. My master ceramist then starts to create your porcelain veneers (2-3 weeks). And your next visit with me is to try in and bond in your porcelain veneers. After this visit, you walk out of my office with the smile of your dreams.
How do I take care of my porcelain veneers, and how long will they last?
You simply take care of veneers the same way you take care of your own teeth. Brushing and flossing is all that’s needed for most people. You should see me and my hygienist at least twice per year for healthy cleaning visits, and if you ever have something unhealthy with your gums or teeth (gum disease, cavities, etc), you should get those things fixed so they don’t infect your porcelain veneers. Some people clench their teeth when they sleep, and if you do, you should wear a properly fitted night-time appliance that protects your natural teeth and porcelain veneers. I will advise you if you need to take any of these additional steps.
If you are taking good care of your mouth and smile, your veneers should last 15-20 years or longer.