In the search for a picture-perfect smile, many of our Chicago neighbors turn to Dr. Brittany and our Sugar Fix Squad to chat about porcelain veneers as their perfect smile solution. These thin layers of porcelain can work wonders in enhancing the appearance of a smile, offering a radiant and flawless grin. However, like any work of art, veneers are not immune to the passage of time. Over the years, several factors such as staining teas or wines, decay under veneers, and general wear and tear can contribute to the gradual darkening of these little tooth saviors. In this post, we’ll explore the reasons why veneers might become discolored and delve into the ways to maintain their original sparkle and shine
1. Rounding Up The Usual Suspects: Staining Beverages
Coffee, tea, and red wine; Basically all our favorite things to sip on! Nearly everyone in the world drinks at least one of these crowd pleasers on a daily basis. But the organics and tannins that are found in these drinks have a reputation for causing stains on teeth. When it comes to veneers, these components of our favorite beverages can build up on the surface of your porcelain veneers and sometimes even gradually seep into the surface of the porcelain, leading to a dull and discolored appearance and staining. We’ve found that organics from loose-leaf tea are especially sticky and will build up the most quickly on the surface of your veneers.
To reduce the build up of these organics and tannins on your veneers, we recommend drinking these staining beverages in moderation. And when you do, use a straw to bypass your front teeth, keeping them stain free and sparkly. You can also sip water between sips of the more staining beverages to rinse the residue off of your veneers before they have time to stick. If you’re out at a party, snack on apple slices. They are naturally scrubby and will remove any potential surface build up from your veneers without having you brush your teeth in the middle of a soiree. Luckily, this type of darkening is mostly due to surface stains and will polish right off during your regular dental cleanings. When you come in for your bi-yearly visit, our hygienist will gently remove this surface build up by hand, then polish the surfaces of your veneers back to their original luster.
2. Hidden Cavities: Decay Under Veneers:
The wonderful thing about veneers is that they cover the fronts of your teeth and make your smile look perfect, but this can also conceal cavities from your view. With any veneer or crown, there is always a seam where the porcelain meets your tooth and this spot can still have a cavity. Decay or cavities can happen at this seam then spread under the veneer itself, looking like a darker shadow. While the veneer itself is not changing color, it is a thin piece of porcelain that allows the natural color of your tooth to shine through, and because of the darkness of a cavity, the dark cavity color may show through making the veneer look darker.
Regular cleanings and checkups are crucial to prevent this from happening. Unfortunately, when a cavity happens under a veneer, the entire veneer must be removed, the cavity cleaned out, and a new veneer made. At Sugar Fix, Dr. Brittany recommends coming in for checkups every three months during the first year after getting veneers so that she can see if there are any areas our guests are finding challenging to keep clean. Maintaining a good routine at home is so important to keeping veneers bright and healthy. Of course, we recommend brushing and flossing twice a day, but our recommendations go beyond that. We highly recommend the Sonicare toothbrush, which has a much better brushing power than a manual toothbrush. We also recommend a woven floss like Cocofloss that will act as a loofah between your teeth and leaves behind a hint of antimicrobial coconut oil. Coconut oil is also a natural whitener and will keep the crevices between your teeth bright and white! . At our dental loft, we like an insurance policy that your veneers will be cavity free, and our best way to combat this is with our prescription strength Fluoridex toothpaste. If an issue is detected early in a “precavity” stage, we can intervene with preventative measures and save you from needing to replace the veneer.
3. More Than The Average Wear and Tear
Just like natural teeth, veneers are subjected to the rigors of daily life. Chewing, biting, and exposure to various foods can contribute to the gradual wear and tear of porcelain veneers. Even considering the all-day everyday wear your teeth and veneers go through, they should last a long time! However, if you grind your teeth, there are a few things that can go wrong. You can cause microfractures in the porcelain which collect stain over time, making the veneer appear darkened. Another potential problem is that your tooth itself can die from clenching and grinding. When this happens, the tooth itself darkens under the veneer and because the veneer is thin, the darkened tooth will show through and the veneer will appear darkened as well.
Teeth are not tools! Avoid using your teeth to open packages, bite into hard objects or open bottles. While veneers are strong, just like your teeth they are not indestructible. If an action can break a tooth it can certainly break a veneer! At Sugar Fix, Dr. Brittany recommends wearing a nightguard to all of our guests with veneers. Consider it a protection on your smile investment!
While we do see these things happen and veneers darken, they are generally uncommon, especially with the preventative measures we put in place at our Chicago loft. Being proactive about keeping your veneers healthy is the best way to ensure your smile stays in great condition for years to come! For more information on porcelain veneers, check out our info page, and our before and afters!