Veneers are tough, but can they fall victim to cavities? It’s a question we hear all the time.
Porcelain veneers are custom-crafted shells that are fitted over your natural teeth to cover up cosmetic issues such as yellowed, stained, or chipped teeth, slightly crooked teeth, or misshapen teeth. Pioneered in the days of the first “talking” Hollywood stars, dental veneers have become popular among patients today for their ability to create a dazzling smile.
If you have dental veneers or are considering this treatment for brightening your smile, you’ll want to maintain optimal oral health to protect yourself from tooth decay and gum disease, thus ensuring that you can enjoy your veneers for as long as possible.
The good news is that, although you can still get cavities with veneers, the veneers themselves aren’t vulnerable to this type of decay.
Why Can't Veneers Get Cavities?
While porcelain veneers look like natural teeth, they are made out of an inert material (ceramic) that isn't porous like dental enamel. Because it's not porous, plaque and bacteria can't get inside to cause decay like they do in organic teeth. It's a bit like a dental filling. While the filling material itself doesn't break down, the tooth around the filling can—at which point the filling needs to be removed so that the decay can be cleaned out and the filling replaced.
As veneers are a cosmetic treatment, they cover up aesthetic concerns but don't make your natural teeth bulletproof. The tooth can still decay beneath the veneer, and you could still develop periodontal disease. That's why it's essential to follow a solid oral hygiene routine after perfecting your smile with veneers.
Caring for Veneer-Covered Teeth
Veneer-supporting teeth don't require much special care beyond your usual dental hygiene routine. However, if your dental hygiene regimen is lacking, now is a great time to tighten things up. An ideal dental hygiene routine would include:
Flossing daily (including between veneers) to remove food particles that lead to decay
Brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush for at least two minutes each time
Rinsing with a mouthwash (commercial or homemade)
In addition to your daily routine, it's essential to visit your dentist for professional cleanings every six months. Your dentist will check your teeth and gums thoroughly and catch any developing problems in time to correct them before they get worse.
Special Precautions When Using Veneers
A solid dental hygiene routine will go a long way toward preventing cavities behind and around your veneers. However, there are a few additional precautions you should follow to prevent your veneers from suffering damage:
Avoid chewing on very hard foods like peanut brittle and ice cubes.
Never use your teeth to open a packet or sever tape.
Wear a mouth guard at night if you grind your teeth.
Wear a sports mouth guard when participating in sports.
If you notice any decay behind or around a veneer-covered tooth, it's best to have it treated immediately to stop the decay in its tracks. Advanced decay could make it necessary to remove the veneer and replace it with a new one.
The Choice of Cosmetic Dentist Matters
The best way to prevent any sort of damage to your veneers or underlying teeth is to see an experienced cosmetic dentist. The right dentist will give your mouth a thorough assessment before recommending a specific treatment and explain in detail how to take care of your teeth. An experienced, trustworthy cosmetic dentist will only apply veneers if your teeth are strong enough to support them and won't take any shortcuts in the preparation or application of the veneers.
When you go for your initial consultation, make sure to ask which materials the dentist uses, as this also affects the longevity of the veneers. Porcelain is the most durable material and the least likely to harm your gums. Composite resin is cheaper but doesn't last as long and is more prone to staining.
Veneers and Cavities in a Nutshell
Can veneers get cavities? In a word, no. However, while the veneers themselves are resistant to decay, the tooth behind the veneer can still develop cavities. The good news is that if you look after your teeth, you can enjoy your natural teeth and shiny veneers for up to 15 or even 20 years.
To protect the natural teeth behind your veneers, brush and floss daily and use an antiseptic mouthwash. You should also see your dentist every six months for a professional cleaning and thorough check-up.
Porcelain veneers are a long-term investment that can boost your confidence and beautify your smile. By looking after your veneer-covered teeth, you should be able to enjoy this life-changing investment and a healthy, radiant, cavity-free smile.