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Smile Savers
Want to upgrade your grin with dental veneers?
Here’s what you should know.


March 2019

Dental veneers are no longer the go-to smile perfector for the Hollywood set alone.

Once popular primarily with younger patients, veneers now appeal more to the over-60 population, according to Dr. James Michaels of Oconomowoc Dental Care.

“Twenty years ago, 30- or 40-year-olds were typical [patients for veneers],” he says. “It was unheard of to have anybody over the age of 60 even address any interest in them.” Instead, says Michaels, 60- to 80-year-olds who wish to enhance the appearance of their teeth represent the primary demographic at his practice. Regardless of the age of the patient, he adds, “almost all the time, a veneer is an aesthetic decision.”

Dental veneers are porcelain shells designed to cover the front of the tooth. “With minimal drilling — and sometimes no drilling at all — we can reconfigure the shape and color of someone’s teeth,” Michaels explains, noting that placements now last for decades. Drilling is required if the dentist needs to create relief on the tooth to ensure proper adhesion, he explains, but if the veneer can be stacked onto the existing tooth, no such action is needed.

The process — which includes creating a study model and taking digital impressions before the veneers are cemented on — is typically completed in two or three office visits, and, Michaels says, patients should estimate a cost of $1,000 per tooth.

If you’d like to snazz up your smile, but that cost is too big a bite out of your bank account, a similar, but less expensive, cosmetic treatment option is also available locally.

“We’re doing a different type of veneer,” says Dr. Dale Rottman of Successful Smiles in Thiensville. “It’s called a ProVeneer. Generally it [requires] one appointment, there’s no anesthesia involved, and you don’t have to remove any tooth structure.” ProVeneers cost about half the price of porcelain veneers, he adds, estimating $500 to $600 per tooth, and typical ProVeneer patients are in their late 30s to 50s, though Rottman occasionally sees younger patients.

“We just [placed ProVeneers on] a young girl who had braces and couldn’t close all the spaces between her front teeth with the braces, so we did [Pro]Veneers to finish it off,” he explains.

Placement of ProVeneers on six top-front teeth takes about two to two and a half hours, says Rottman. A putty-like bonding material is shaped to the front of the tooth, and a light is then shined on the material to harden it. “Then we can do a preview, which is kind of nice for a patient,” Rottman says. “If they decide they like [the ProVeneer], we pop it off and we heat treat it so it makes it super hard. Then we bond it back onto the tooth, just like a porcelain veneer would be bonded.”

The catch? ProVeneers come in a limited number of color choices — only about five shades of white, according to Rottman. For patients with considerably darkened teeth, he recommends bleaching the teeth to brighten their coloring and better match the ProVeneers, an additional cost anywhere from $350 to $1,000.

Caring for Your Veneers

You’ve invested thousands of dollars in your new smile. Now what? Proper care and maintenance is essential, just as it was with your original grin. Brush twice daily, floss daily, and limit your intake of coffee and red wine, says Dr. Dale Rottman of Successful Smiles in Thiensville. Avoid extremely crunchy foods like apples and carrots — a crack or chip in a porcelain veneer generally requires a rather extensive repair process.

The veneer must be removed, he explains, and a new impression is taken to form a brand-new veneer. If the veneer debonds and is still intact, it is possible for your dentist to simply reattach it. Conversely, a break in a ProVeneer, says Rottman, can be mended by adding bonding material to the existing veneer. — Jen Kent


This story ran in the March 2019 issue of: