Cosmetic Dentistry

What Exactly Are Porcelain Veneers?

By Dr. Caroline Thomas, Lexington, SC

“Porcelain Veneers” tend to be buzz words among movie stars and the general population, alike. Dental veneers are custom made to patients’ specifications and can drastically improve the wow-factor of a smile!  I recently ran into a friend of mine with very nice, natural teeth and she said, “I need to get you to do porcelain veneers for me!” - - But does she really? Keep reading to learn more about this popular dental procedure...

* Before and after veneer case by Palmetto Dental Associates (Dr. Franklin Shull) and CMR Dental Lab; click on each image to see it in its entirety. 


Porcelain veneers can achieve beautiful, nearly flawless teeth; however, veneers are not necessary for everyone. Sometimes significant cosmetic improvements can be achieved by small tweaks of tooth shape or color. If you have nice enamel with minimal fillings, then teeth whitening, minor orthodontics, and edge shaping/contouring can go a long way.

Porcelain veneers are wafer-thin shell coverings that go on the front surface of your teeth. Even though they are very thin, because of the strength gained when bonding them, veneers are not fragile and predictably last for many years with proper oral hygiene. Protecting them by wearing a bite guard appliance is also important.

Porcelain veneers are now made from a strong, highly esthetic glass ceramic. This is similar to the material used years ago, but looks much more natural. Veneers have no metal substructure so you don’t have to worry about getting the dreaded “gray line” at your gumline. Dental veneers do not stain or dull, and seamlessly cover gaps, stains, cracks and chips.

Porcelain veneers do not look like "chiclets;" If done properly, they look just like ideal natural teeth. Achieving beautiful veneers is a direct correlation to having a properly trained dentist and top-notch lab technician working together. Just like any piece of art, dental veneers are only as good as the hands of those making them. At Palmetto Dental Associates, we work exclusively with CMR, one of the top dental labs in the country, to produce gorgeous, lasting restorations:

There are ways to see what you will look like with veneers prior to undergoing the procedure. Your dentist will begin with a comprehensive exam and smile analysis to determine what steps are necessary to achieve the smile you desire. A digital "mock-up" can be designed, producing a before and after visual of your teeth with veneers. In addition, a material called PMMA can be milled into a custom shim that will allow you to “try on” veneers to see if you like the final result.  


If you are interested in improving the esthetics of your smile, or just have more questions on the topic, give us a call at 803-808-0888 to schedule a consult with one of our four wonderful cosmetic dentists.  

Experience the difference of positive, comprehensive dentistry! 

What's that dark line at the gum line of my crown (or "cap")?

All Ceramic Dental Crowns / Veneers

By Dr. Chris Campbell, Lexington, SC

This is a question that we hear frequently in our office during our new patient exams.  It’s a great question, so let’s shed some light on the topic.  The majority of the crowns (or "caps") that have been fabricated worldwide are of the “porcelain bonded to metal" variety.  What that means is that there is a metal substructure that fits over the prepared tooth upon which porcelain is layered to make it look like a tooth.  Many times this metal and porcelain junction can result in a black line at the base of the crown, where it had initially been tucked slightly under the gums.  If any gum recession occurs, the patient may then see the black metal line.

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While the porcelain fused to metal crown is still a very durable, long lasting restoration (and can be fabricated in a method that doesn’t show the “black line”), we now have new materials available to us that allow for crowns to be made with absolutely no metal at all.  Is this a brand-new concept?  No, it is not.  We have been making metal-free crowns and veneers for many years.  Unfortunately, in past times we have had to sacrifice strength in order to gain the esthetic benefit of a metal free crown.  With the advent of materials like porcelain bonded to zirconia, and even more recently, a highly esthetic porcelain called Emax, we are able to achieve the ultimate in esthetics without sacrificing strength.  

With the advent of these new materials and by using truly artistic master ceramists to fabricate our crowns, no longer do we have to make crowns that look like crowns.  Instead, we now can fabricate crowns that look like, well... beautiful, natural, healthy teeth!