When a cosmetic dentist places a porcelain veneer over a tooth, they do so to change the colour, alignment and shape of that tooth. With the help of well-crafted and placed veneers, a skilled cosmetic dentist can give a patient a smile that commands attention. What they cannot do, however, is fashion armour from porcelain in order to prevent tooth decay.
With or without veneers, oral hygiene is your best defence against tooth decay. Porcelain veneers are cosmetic in nature; therefore, it is oral hygiene, and not your veneers, that will prevent tooth decay.
Veneers Cover the Front of Teeth
Porcelain veneers are bonded to the frontal surface and sides of teeth. This means that the backs of the teeth they cover are as exposed as they were before the veneers were placed. It is important that you do not assume that your veneers will prevent tooth decay. Wherever bacteria are able to come into contact with enamel, they are able to cause tooth decay.
So, while the frontal surfaces that are covered by veneers are protected by a porcelain barrier, the margins, where the edges of the veneers meet the enamel, and the backs, are not. That is why it is important that you continue to brush and floss your teeth. Severe tooth decay occurring on the back of a tooth will bring about the need to remove the veneer in order to treat the decay.
Floss and Brush to Prevent Decay
Porcelain does not decay like enamel. However, if you fail to floss and brush along the margins (gently) of your veneers, tooth decay could occur between the veneer and tooth. Remember, bacteria cause tooth decay by metabolizing the sugars in your food and secreting an acidic by-product that eats away at enamel.
If your cosmetic dentist leaves even a tiny space between a tooth and veneer, bacteria will enter that space, as will food debris. Food plus bacteria leads to tooth decay. If the decay advances into the area behind the veneer, your dentist will have to remove the veneer to treat the dental decay. Make sure, then, that you choose a skilled cosmetic dentist with a proven record.
Your Veneers Are Not Armour
Although porcelain veneers can last a lifetime when well made and taken care of, they cannot serve as armour for teeth. While the veneers themselves are durable, the bonding used to cement them onto your teeth is less so. Over time, if you regularly chew on hard things like candies and pen lids, that bonding will fail. This leaves the teeth prone to decay since the bacteria now have a place to congregate and hide.
To ensure that your veneers and the teeth they cover live up to their potential, floss and brush the backs and sides of your teeth as well as the front. Also, stay away from sticky foods and sweets, as these will break your veneers or cause the bonding holding them to your teeth to come away.