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Porcelain Crowns & Veneers

A closer look at two innovative techniques and strategies to improve your smile

By Dr. Tyler P. Lasseigne


Before porcelain veneers.
Figure 7: After the “trial smile” is removed the patient is back to his original appearance.
Small amount of tooth reduction.
Figure 8: The dentist will reduce a small amount of the surface of the patient's teeth creating adequate space for the new veneers.
Dental laboratory porcelain veneers.
Figure 9: The laboratory technician creates porcelain veneers on a model following the dentist's prescription.
After porcelain veneers.
Figure 10: The final result creating a new smile which closed spaces and replaced worn, uneven teeth.
Photos provided by Dr. Tyler Lasseigne

More About Choices — Shades of Grey

There may be a fair amount of judgment necessary when determining whether to place porcelain veneers or crowns. For example, your dentist may feel that circumstances dictate that a porcelain veneer needs to be made thicker than normal to cover a larger percentage of a tooth to align it with a neighboring or adjacent tooth. Additionally, more tooth preparation may be required to achieve a desired effect in a severely stained tooth [Figure 8]. Other circumstances may present a sort of compromise between a veneer and a crown — where more than just the face of the tooth needs enhancing. Indeed, porcelain “veneer” restorations have been prescribed where the whole surface of the tooth is “veneered” [Figure 9 and 10].

What Crowns and Veneers Can't Do

These techniques cannot fully correct poor tooth position, poor bite relations, or a poor profile. They may, however, correct minor alignment problems, depending upon the individual case. Many situations may first require some form of orthodontic treatment (braces) to move the teeth into proper position — for both function as well as esthetics. Ceramic restorations may serve as an excellent restorative solution, but like most other techniques, they have both advantages and disadvantages.

Beginning to See the Light?

A talented ceramic artist can sculpt dental porcelain into spectacular tooth imitations that mimic tooth enamel. Properties associated with porcelains include glass-like whiteness and translucence — most important from an optical or visual standpoint. It is these particular nuances that allows light to penetrate and/or scatter, making the restoration life-like.

Porcelains are a form of inorganic, non-metallic ceramic material formed by the action of heat. Dental porcelains are made in many colors and shades; they are manufactured in a powder form corresponding to the primary colors of basic tooth structure. These are mixed with water and placed in an oven for “firing” — hence their ceramic nature. Porcelains are built up in layers to mimic the natural translucency, staining and contours of the enamel of teeth.