Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lumineers® Instead of Veneers

The latest and perhaps greatest thing that has happened in dentistry lately are Lumineers, or "no-prep veneers". This is dentist shorthand for describing cosmetic porcelain shells that can be attached to your teeth without any preparation, i.e., any drilling, shots or loss of tooth tissue.

These no-prep veneers essentially add a very thin layer of porcelain to the tooth. They are very strong and they can significantly change the shape and color of your smile. Many people who wouldn't consider veneers because of the drilling, shots, and discomfort are trying Lumineers.

Lumineers can't be universally applied. You may have too much decay or discoloration, or your teeth may be twisted in a way that the veneer can't cover it. You might need some orthodontics, or you may need to have one or more teeth prepared, which is to say drilled, but the goal in dentistry is to hang onto as much natural tooth tissue as possible, and Lumineers allow you to do that.

Some patients find that Lumineers make them talk a little funny. This is because their teeth are, in essence, thicker. They usually adjust to this in a couple of weeks. They will also break more easily than cosmetic veneers, and if you are a bruxer (you grind your teeth) it's going to be tough to keep Lumineers attached. But most of the time they are fine.

Cost is still fairly significant, close to what regular cosmetic veneers would be, but they can be done without any discomfort. They can also be removed easily if you decide you don't like them, or if you need something that is stronger (because the no-prep veneer breaks,) leaving the original tooth is intact. Look at it like a starter kit for cosmetic veneers, and it may eliminate the need for them, or put it off by several years.

Redoing your smile can really change your life. It can help with your confidence, your self-esteem and generally make you feel better about yourself. That's a wonderful thing in my book.

The procedure is simple. The dentist takes an impression of your existing teeth, designs how your smile will look, and then sends all that off to the lab that makes Lumineers. The next visit, the dentist will spend a couple of hours putting them on (assuming you've had several teeth done), with virtually no discomfort on your part, and then you walk away with a beautiful smile that you can eat with right away. Amazing stuff.

While Lumineers is the most recognized brand, there are a couple of other competitors, Venus Smile and Vivaneers. They are both made by very old, reputable companies in the dental industry, so it's really a matter of what your dentist recommends. See a dentist and ask about no-prep veneers as an option if you're not happy with the way your smile looks. A dentist can design and show you exactly how your smile will look.

I'm probably going to get them myself pretty soon, and if I do, I'll go into a lot more detail about the procedure.

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