If your teeth are decaying, stained, or you have an uneven bite; dental laminates can be the solution you’re looking for. Made of a thin material covering each tooth, laminates are an excellent option to restore your naturally beautiful smile and give you the appearance you want.
However, although laminates are made of cemented dental materials, they aren’t indestructible. How long do laminates last? That depends largely on how you care for them. Let’s look closer at the makeup of these versatile oral care tools.
What are dental laminates?
Dental laminates (also called porcelain laminates) are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth – colored material specifically designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve their appearance. The shells are bonded to the front of the teeth to change their color, shape, size, or length.
Dental laminates are made from porcelain or resin composite materials. Porcelain laminates resist stains better than resin and more closely match your teeth’s natural color.
How are dental laminates used?
Laminates are routinely used to fix:
- Discolored teeth from root canal treatment; stains from certain drugs or excessive fluoride, or large resin fillings that have discolored the tooth
- Teeth that are worn down, chipped or broken
- Misaligned, uneven, or irregularly shaped teeth with craters or bulges
- Teeth with gaps between them
What is the procedure for dental laminates?
Getting a dental veneer usually requires three dental visits—one for an initial consultation and two to make and apply the laminates. The process can accommodate a single tooth or many at the same time.
The laminate procedure is composed of diagnosis and treatment planning, preparation, and bonding.
How long do dental laminates last?
Dental laminates generally last 7 to 15 years, after which they would need to be replaced. Porcelain laminates are sturdy and can last 10 to 15 years with proper care. Occasional cosmetic repair or replacement may be needed, depending on the type of wear or damage incurred. Ultimately, it’s up to the individual to protect laminates in order to extend their lifespan.
For example, the same habits that can damage your natural teeth can shorten the life of laminates. Laminates can chip and crack like natural teeth, so biting down on hard foods or chewing on the end of a pen or similar can damage a laminate’s surface. Laminates are susceptible to staining as well and dentists recommend avoiding excessive exposure to coffee, wine or tea.
Dental laminates are not meant to be a permanent, maintenance-free fix but you can get the most out of them by treating them well. Here are some effective ways to properly care for laminates:
- Maintain good oral hygiene practices to avoid stains and keep your natural teeth healthy. Brush at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste with cleaning silica similar to what dentists use. Remember to floss and make regular visits to your dentist for cleanings.
- If you play a contact sport, wear oral protection such as a mouth guard. Impacts to the face can easily result in cracked or chipped laminates.
- Don’t use teeth as tools. We are all guilty of using our teeth instead of scissors to open a stubborn package or loosen a knot, but it’s a very dangerous habit. Not only does it invite germs, but it’s a great way to chip a veneer and dramatically shorten its life.
- Do you grind or clench your teeth when you sleep? This is called bruxism and while it generally will not crack laminates, they won’t last as long. A nighttime mouth guard can be a simple fix.
Is special care required?
Dental laminates do not require any special care, aside from following good oral hygiene practices including brushing, flossing, and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash. Porcelain laminates resist stains but your dentist may recommend avoiding stain-causing foods and beverages.
What about alternatives?
If you are not completely sold on dental laminates, alternatives are available, including bondings and crowns. However, laminates are an excellent intermediate option, especially well-suited to individuals interested in changing the shape of their teeth in smaller increments but not enough to require a full crown procedure.
Remember, dental laminates are not and excuse to slack on regular oral hygiene. Treat them well and they will return the favor.