Dr. Nammy Patel talks with John Maher about porcelain veneers. She explains when she recommends patients to get veneers. Then, she talks about how long they last and how they improve someone’s smile.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Dr. Nammy Patel, founder of Green Dentistry in San Francisco, California, helping patients recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health and the author of the best-selling books, Age with Style: Guide to a Youthful Smile and Healthy Living and Total Wellness: Understanding the link between your teeth and your health. Today our topic is long-term teeth whitening with porcelain veneers. Welcome Dr. Nammy.
Nammy Patel: Hi John. How are you?
Traditional Teeth Whitening Methods
John: Good, thanks. So Dr. Nammy, what are some traditional ways that people whiten their teeth?
Dr. Nammy: Traditional ways of whitening teeth can be really simplistic, as simple as do-at-your-home recipes. A lot of times patients will try baking soda or charcoal toothpaste to be able to whiten your teeth. And then there’s over the counter products like white strips that patients can utilize in order to help whiten their teeth.
And then the most and effective ones are actually in the office. They work really, really, really well. And first, it always starts off with the cleaning, making sure that all the stains and all the bacteria are removed so that the tooth is wide open to receive the bleach and give you a really nice, beautiful white smile. And so that’s how the first step is.
A second step is a whitening process, and we have several types of whitening and I’m so delighted to share with you that we even have whitening for patients who have had fluorosis, white spots on the teeth, or patients who’ve had tetracycline staining, which is that yellow staining on the teeth. And we are now happy to report that we actually are whitening that gives you a really good result in the office.
How Long Does Traditional Whitening Last?
John: So do you have to go back for additional treatments? So how long does the whitening tend to last in these treatments?
Dr. Nammy: So the whitening lasts for a very long time. Personally, mine has lasted 10 years and I did the simple whitening, laser whitening, and it’s worked really, really, really well. I do love to drink my chai every day in the morning. So despite having my chai, my teeth have stayed nice and beautiful and 10 years I feel like is a really good timing. So whitening does have to get redone, yes, but the length of time is pretty darn good.
What Are Porcelain Veneers?
John: Okay. So another option for a teeth whitening is to use porcelain veneers. What are porcelain veneers?
Dr. Nammy: So porcelain veneers are like press on nails. So another way to whiten your teeth is, let’s say first we started the bleaching and it didn’t work so well. We also wanted to actually change the shape and size of the teeth, not just whiten them, but we’re able to change the shape and size. So it’s like a complete transformation of the smile. We can do that with porcelain veneers. So porcelain that we utilize is biocompatible and we’re able to transform someone’s smile, make it nice, beautiful, healthy, and just really rewarding so that we feel really good about ourselves.
Porcelain Veneers Vs. Other Teeth Whitening Methods
John: Do you prefer doing porcelain veneers for teeth whitening as opposed to just doing the treatments that you mentioned before? Or do they have different reasons why you might want to do one or the other?
Dr. Nammy: Honestly, I like to treat my patients as if they’re my sister or my family member. So my attitude is I always start with a conservative measures first. So I would say we would start with an office whitening. If that doesn’t work or if someone’s not happy… for example, let’s say you came into the office, we did whitening on you and you said, Dr. Patel, I’m really not happy with my smile still. I’d like to change the shape and size and even go whiter than what my natural teeth have gone. Could you help me out? And then I would say, Okay, let’s go ahead and look at veneers so that we give you the result that you’re really desiring.
And the reason why we like to start with basic whitening first is mainly because it’s conservative, number one. Number two, it’s a nice way to keep the budget in place and then also gives you a gradient. So that way, just because you have a small infection, we’re not cutting off the whole finger. We’re saying, let’s start with a small aspect of what needs to get done first. Let’s put a bandaid on and do some Neosporin and give your body some time to heal before we go ahead and do porcelain veneers. So that’s how I usually like to do it, is I like to do it on a gradient.
Difference Between a Veneer and a Crown
John: And how is a veneer different from a dental crown?
Dr. Nammy: So a veneer is on the facial side of the teeth. It’s basically a press-on nail and a crown is something that goes over the entire tooth. And so the reason why veneers are really great is because they’re very conservative. So it’s very, very, very thin. And we remove a thin layer of the enamel to make it look nice and pretty and white and also change the shape and size.
Can You Customize the Shade of White on a Veneer?
John: And can you actually choose the color that you want, the shade of white that you want when you’re getting veneers?
Dr. Nammy: Absolutely. You can pick the shape, the size, the color, you can stain it, you can have it custom made to what you really like. We can round the teeth to make them just like the way you want them. So it fits your personality really well.
Do Veneers Need to Be Whitened?
John: Does the whiteness with porcelain veneers, are you going to end up having the same problem with your regular teeth where they’re going to stain and then you might have to get them whitened or replaced or something like that? How long does the color last?
Dr. Nammy: Porcelain veneers tend to last. They can actually last a lifetime if you do the maintenance on them. So as long as you come in for routine maintenance cleanings and if you take care of them properly, they actually can last a lifetime. So usually the portion veneers are really, really, really beautiful and they last, a porcelain material lasts forever. Just kind of like the porcelain we have with our China. It lasts for a very long time. The problem actually occurs at the gum line or at the interface between where the tooth and the porcelain meet. What happens is that when there is, as we age, the gum recedes over time. And so that might be a reason to redo the veneers or something along those lines. But the veneers technically do last a lifetime.
How Gum Recession and Stains Affect Porcelain Veneers
John: So you could end up with, if your gums recede, you end up with a little gap above where the porcelain veneer is and where your gums start. And that might look a little awkward. So you might have to replace them at that point?
Dr. Nammy: Yes.
John: Okay. And do the porcelain veneers stain in the same way that your teeth do? Do you have to get them cleaned or whitened?
Dr. Nammy: They do need to be cleaned. They don’t necessarily, you can’t really whiten porcelain. What they do need to be done is remove the stains by coming in for routine maintenance cleanings, and then making sure you have really good oral hygiene at home. So making sure you’re brushing and flossing and taking good care of them.
Contact Green Dentistry About Porcelain Veneers
John: All right. Well, that’s really good information, Dr. Nammy. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Dr. Nammy: My pleasure, John.
John: And for more information about Green Dentistry, visit the website at sfgreendentist.com or call 415/433-0119.