Ann Le Porcelain veneers can transform your teeth in just a matter of a few weeks. For those with gapped, chipped, or stained teeth, they provide the look and feel of a new smile. They are an ultra-thin composite resin that can last up to 20 years. And, although they are very durable, they are not real teeth. They will need slightly more care and consideration to keep them looking their best and to prolong their lifespan for you. It doesn’t have to be difficult to manage this level of cleaning and care. General Caring Tips for Porcelain Veneers Patients need to commit to good oral hygiene once they receive porcelain veneers. Your dental care provider will offer one-on-one support and guidance on how to do this. Coming in for routine checkups is essential. And, choosing to live a healthy lifestyle is also essential. To prevent decay, proper brushing and flossing is necessary. This in itself can help to extend the lifespan of the porcelain veneers. To be more specific, the porcelain veneers themselves are not likely to decay, but the underlying tooth can, which will distort the teeth and can lead to cavities. Over time, this will damage the veneer. A tooth needing cavity repair cannot support a veneer. Gum health is also very important. The gums do not cover the veneers. However, they do sit right on top of the gumline. Individuals with gingivitis or periodontal disease will see the gums pull away from the veneer. In some situations, this can require the entire veneer restoration to be replaced. The best way to avoid this is to brush teeth at least two times a day and after meals. It’s also essential to avoid excessive force in the veneers. This means not biting hard substances, such as nails. It also applies to several foods. Eating with Temporary Veneers Eating rules around veneers are slightly more complicated because the application of porcelain veneers happens in two steps. The first phase of the process involves removing about a half of a millimeter worth of enamel from the location where the veneer is to be placed. At this point, an impression of the teeth is created. This is then sent away to a lab to fabricate the long-term veneers. This process takes about two weeks. However, in the meantime, temporary veneers are put in place. The adhesive for these temporary veneers is not as strong and requires proper care. They are not like the permanent veneers and, as such, are not resistant to staining. Take extra precautions to care for them. For example, eat everything with a knife and fork, placing the food into the mouth to avoid any type of biting with the front teeth. Because even a small amount of force can dislodge the veneer, it is important to avoid situations where there is any extra force in the teeth. Avoid eating foods that put veneers at the highest risk. While wearing temporary veneers, avoid the following foods: Hard breads Red meats or other chewy cuts of meat Foods with a lot of color such as red wine, curry, dark fruits, ketchup, colored sodas, coffee, and tomatoes Hard food such as nuts and seeds Chips Hard candy Ice Sticky candies Apples and hard-skinned fruit Brush your teeth normally without any heavy brushing. Also, you should not floss temporary veneers. The temporaries are connected to each other. It’s not possible to floss them. Eating with Porcelain Veneers Once your permanent veneers are in place, there are far fewer restrictions on what you can eat. Caring for them, though important, is also a bit easier than caring for temporaries. During the first few days, it is essential to be careful with them. Eat softer foods until you can get used to the new veneers. You should also avoid hard foods such as rock candy, ice, and nuts. Some individuals may need to continue special care for a bit longer. Your dental care provider will offer more information on this if it applies to you. After this time, apply the same rules as you would to normal teeth in terms of how to care for them and protect them. However, you will need to be a bit more cautious and more aware of what you are eating, how you are biting, and how you are cleaning them. There are some foods you should avoid with porcelain veneers. Again, though the list is fewer, it is still important to avoid these foods to help safeguard your veneers for a longer period of time. Avoid: Dark liquids such as tea, red wine, and coffee; if you do drink them, rinse your mouth or brush immediately afterward Highly acidic foods such as lemons or tomatoes; if you do, brush your teeth and rinse your mouth right away Alcohol and all alcohol-based mouthwashes; the alcohol can weaken the bonding agent holding the porcelain in place Hard foods, such as raw carrots or hard candy; use the back teeth to chew any hard substances instead Ice; don’t chew or bite into ice Using your teeth as a tool such as to open a package Don’t smoke or use chewing tobacco This list is not exhaustive. It is important for you to consult with your dentist with any questions you have. And, be sure to listen to your dentist’s recommendations throughout the application process and later to maintain your porcelain veneers. Doing so helps you keep them looking beautiful longer and aids in helping the veneers to reach the 20-year lifespan you expect. Consult your dentist with any concerns you have about specific foods or how to care for your veneers properly. Ann LeAnn Le has been successfully managing dental practices since 1990. She is currently Practice Manager at Bunker Hill Dentistry in Houston, TX which she runs with her husband Dr. Tri M Le.