Did I ruin my porcelain veneers by using abrasive toothpaste?

I started using Crest 3d Vivid toothpaste a couple of months ago. A friend of mine just told me I shouldn’t be using abrasive toothpaste on my porcelain veneers, and recommended Supersmile toothpaste. I’m concerned that I have made a very expensive mistake…that the abrasive toothpaste has either scratched my veneers or it will cause the glaze to come off and the shine will not last as long. Help!

John in California

Your friend is correct in telling you that abrasive toothpastes are not ideal for porcelain veneers. However, you do not need to worry about it scratching the porcelain because porcelain is too hard. The issue is with the bonding composite used to attach the porcelain to your tooth — abrasive toothpaste will scratch or wear it away. Bonding composite forms a very thin line around the entire veneer and the thickness of it depends on the technique of the dentist and the ceramist (it could be anywhere from 100-200 microns or about the thickness of three to five hairs). Using abrasive toothpaste for only two months, you likely will not notice anything yet. If the bonding composite was scratched, it could eventually pick up stain and you would notice a line of stain around the veneer. The other issue with abrasive toothpaste is that it wears away the composite, forming what would be the equivalent of a tiny “ditch” around the veneer. This ditch would attract plaque and eventually start decaying.

Just like your care needs regular maintenance to keep working properly, think of Supersmile toothpaste as great “maintenance” product for your expensive cosmetic dental work. If you use Supersmile on a regular basis from here on out, you should be smiling for many years to come.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Find out why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.

Is it possible to refurbish my 20-year-old porcelain veneers?

I’ve had porcelain veneers for 20 years and they have lasted just about the length of time my dentist said they would. I got them because my teeth were stained by tetracycline and at the time, whitening treatments were not readily available like they are today. I would have liked to have gone that route, but my dentist said whitening treatments aren’t really effective on tetracycline stains.

I’ve been pretty happy with my teeth, however, in the last six months to a year, I have noticed a gap forming between the veneers. When I eat, food seems to get caught. Also, I am starting to have a space at the top of the veneers and the gum line. Can my veneers be removed for new ones or is there a way that I can “refurbish” them? — Nancy

Your dentist was correct in the fact that teeth whitening or bleaching is not a good option for tetracycline staining. Even if you had been able to lighten your teeth, they would never have been perfectly white.

It is possible to touch up porcelain veneers by polishing them and smoothing off the margins. However, what you are describing sounds like you might need to have them replaced. The space developing between the veneer and your gumline is likely a result of your gums receding a little and exposing some of the tooth. With tetracycline staining such as yours, it could be noticeable if the space continues to get worse.

If you have to go the replacement route, be sure to do your homework. Many dentists who say they can cover tetracycline stains often lack the skill and artistry required for true, high quality cosmetic dentistry – and these stubborn stains require the best cosmetic dentist you can find.

As for the life expectancy of veneers – even though your dentist told you they would last twenty years they could have possibly lasted longer. Your situation sounds more like the issues may have been caused from changes specific to your teeth, rather than the veneers deteriorating themselves.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Find out why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.