How Porcelain Veneers Revolutionized Dentistry
The History of the “Hollywood Smile”
The practice of dentistry is thousands of years old, but scientific and technological advancements have allowed the field to change a lot over the past 150 years. Revolutionary advancements that are now commonplace, like tube toothpaste, dental x-rays, local anesthetics, and veneers, were all created in that span of time! Veneers are a great example of just how quickly the practice of dentistry has changed. They have been around for almost 100 years, which sounds like a lot until you realize that crowns and bridges were being used by the Etruscans as early as 166AD. In the relatively short period of time they have existed, veneers have revolutionized the practice of dentistry—and have changed drastically along the way.
The Invention of Veneers
In modern times, veneers are often still misunderstood as being so expensive that only the richest of the rich can afford them; this might be, at least in part, because they got their start in Hollywood. They were first invented in 1928 by Dr. Charles Pincus. Most of the California-based dentist’s patients were Hollywood stars who were constantly appearing in movies and wanted to look their best for the cameras—especially their smiles. Dr. Pincus hit upon the idea for veneers as a way to improve their smiles for the cameras, but the first veneers were a far cry from what we have today.
Dr. Pincus’ first veneers were made from an acrylic material and fit over his patients’ natural teeth like caps. While modern veneers are permanent, the first veneers only lasted one or two hours; Hollywood stars would put them on with a weak adhesive before they began shooting scenes for their latest movie, and remove them when the scene was finished filming. The acrylic material of the veneers meant that they didn’t look as realistic as modern veneers, but they didn’t need to—cameras back then didn’t pick up nearly as much detail as they do now. Veneers gifted Hollywood stars with dazzling, uniform smiles on the big screen, allowing veneers to skyrocket in popularity in Hollywood.
By the 1930s and 1940s, Hollywood stars were using veneers regularly, but dentists realized that the treatment had the potential for more widespread and long-term use. It was around this time that dentists began making veneers from porcelain or composite materials—the materials that are still used for veneers today. Veneers now looked natural, but there was one major hurdle to the widespread success of veneers: making them adhere to teeth in the long-term. For years, dentists struggled to find an adhesive or technique that would keep the veneers in place for longer than a couple of hours.
In the 1950s, Dr. Michael Bunocore finally hit upon a clue. He discovered that etching the surface of a patient’s teeth by applying a mildly acidic solution to them helped create a better surface for veneers to adhere to. The process still wasn’t perfected until 1982, however, when Dr. J.R. Calamia and Dr. R.J. Simonsen combined the knowledge from their predecessors with their own research. They came up with a process for placing veneers that involved using both the dental etching process and bonding resins. This vastly improved the longevity of veneers, allowing them to be placed on patients for years instead of hours and finally making them a viable long-term treatment for average people. Veneers still took a few years to take off in popularity, but they began making a real impact on the mainstream practice of dentistry in the 1990s.
The Benefits of Modern Veneers
Dentists still use the techniques that Dr. Calamia and Dr. Simonsen first described in 1982, but technology has continued to adapt and improve veneers. Porcelain is considered the best material for veneers because it mimics the appearance of natural teeth perfectly—right down to their gloss. Although porcelain has a glass-like structure, it’s durable and stain-resistant, making it a go-to material for dental work—it’s also used in bridges, crowns, and some dentures.
Nowadays, veneers are very customizable, allowing you to choose their size, shape, and color. Dr. Alhadef is renowned in Dallas and beyond for his craftsmanship and artistic skill with veneers. If you choose to get them, he’ll work with you to create a set of veneers that will complement your facial features and increase your self-confidence. This is many dentists’ favorite part about veneers, as it gives them the chance to mix art with the practice of dentistry, and to make a lasting positive impact on their patients’ lives by helping them love their smiles. Whether you get a full set of veneers or just one or two, no one will be able to tell your veneers from your natural teeth.
Veneers got their start as a purely cosmetic procedure, and while they’re still often used to give you an even, white smile, they have a wider range of uses—including improving some patients’ oral health. In addition to improving the appearance of stained or uneven teeth, veneers can protect and restore the appearance of cracked, chipped, worn down, or broken teeth, reduce tooth sensitivity from enamel erosion, and close gaps between your teeth. Modern veneers are a permanent procedure—once you get veneers, you’ll always need them. While the first veneers fell off after an hour or two, modern veneers can last for 10 or 15 years—perhaps longer if you take good care of them through great oral hygiene.
Veneers have changed a lot over the past several decades, becoming more durable, longer-lasting, and more accessible to average people. They can help solve a wide range of dental issues that you might be facing, restoring your oral health and your confidence. If you’re interested in getting veneers, feel free to call our office to ask a few questions or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Alhadef.