How Are Invisalign Aligners Made?

If you’re looking at Invisalign as an option for straightening your teeth, you may be wondering just what exactly it is you’d be wearing in your mouth for months to come. 

Invisalign aligners are made individually for each patient based on digital scans taken from their own teeth and bite. The teeth-straightening system works by gradually moving from one set of aligners to another over the course of the treatment, and reshaping your smile along with them. In the same way that traditional metal braces are tightened or adjusted to guide teeth into a new shape, Invisalign aligners will put gradual pressure on your teeth to move them into their new places. 

Sometimes, your dentist may apply small tooth-colored protrusions to your teeth before you begin using Invisalign aligners. These are called SmartForce attachments, and allow your dentist to straighten teeth that are difficult to move or need multiple directions of force to be moved. They attach to the aligners and allow them to exert force more precisely on teeth that might present a more complex problem. The attachments allow Invisalign aligners to do more and help address issues that otherwise might call for metal traditional braces. 

What They’re Made Of

The clear, removable aligners are made from a patented material from Invisalign called SmartTrack. It’s called this because it’s made with small blue indicators that can tell you or your parents whether you’ve been wearing the aligners long enough each day to accomplish your goals. (Invisalign patients usually need to wear the aligners for at least 20 to 22 hours a day to stay on track with their progress.) 

SmartTrack is an extremely durable, BPA-free hard plastic material that is clear, and fits closely to your teeth. These qualities make the aligners near-invisible, which looks more pleasing than metal braces typically do. The material is chosen for comfort while wearing, and to fit your teeth tightly. It is tough, but light and flexible, and capable of gently moving your teeth during treatment.

How Aligners Are Made

The process starts at your MPDG dentist’s office, as he or she will create a custom treatment plan for you. A detailed digital scan is taken of your teeth with a scanner designed specifically for that purpose. That’s used to create a 3D image of your bite and smile. The images allow your dentist to map out a thorough, exact treatment plan that will gradually move your teeth into the desired new shape. At this point, you’ll also know about how long Invisalign treatment will take for your needs — it can be different for each person.

Your aligners are made by Invisalign at a lab, using an advanced 3D printing process. (An interesting fact for you — Invisalign is actually the world’s largest user of this kind of cutting-edge 3D printing.) When they’re ready, they’ll be sent to your dentist, who will then check to make sure they fit correctly. The aligners are trimmed to fit your gumline comfortably, based on the scans of your teeth taken earlier. 

Over the course of your treatment plan, you’ll switch through several sets of aligners. Each set helps you progress toward your end goal of having straight teeth. You can usually expect to move on to the next set of aligners every few weeks, but the timing is an individual process that depends on the condition of your teeth and what problems your dentist is treating with Invisalign. 

Our Invisalign Experience

Monterey Peninsula Dental Group is proud to be an Invisalign Preferred Provider. This means we’ve gone through certification with Invisalign to prove we are well-versed in using the Invisalign system, and have continually and successfully treated many cases with it. In fact, we are a top Invisalign provider for the Monterey Peninsula. It also means our staff is familiar with helping our patients through the billing and insurance process with Invisalign and can answer all your Invisalign questions. Get in touch with us to find out more about whether Invisalign might be right for your dental goals.

Invisalign vs. Braces: Which Is Best For You?

If you have orthodontic issues like gapped teeth, an overbite or underbite, crooked teeth, an open bite and other irregularities in your smile, you may be considering braces or Invisalign to fix them. At Monterey Peninsula Dental Group, we’re a preferred provider for Invisalign in the Monterey Peninsula, with lots of experience helping our patients with Invisalign.

One major difference is that Invisalign can be done through your general dentist’s office, eliminating the need for additional appointments with an orthodontist. Traditional braces need to be put on and maintained with the help of an orthodontist, while Invisalign is easily removable at home for eating and cleaning. This feature also makes Invisalign attractive to many people, because you can eliminate the tricky brushing and flossing needed to keep braces clean and teeth healthy. With Invisalign, you remove the aligner trays and brush and floss normally, then replace the trays.

Treatment times and costs can be quite similar between Invisalign and braces, but both depend on individual patient needs, and how long it will take to address the issues with each patient’s smile. No matter which you choose, it’s important to have well-aligned teeth and a solid bite, which help you eat and talk more effectively. Crooked or misaligned teeth are also at higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease, since they are harder to keep clean.

Why Invisalign?

For many patients, the biggest draw to Invisalign is the improved aesthetic appearance of your smile. It’s made with clear plastic forms called aligners, that fit tightly over your teeth and gradually guide them into the new, desired places. So, unlike braces, when you smile, all that can be seen is the clear aligners over your own teeth, not metal brackets and wires. Patients also typically report less mouth pain with Invisalign, which is a more gentle, and sometimes slower, approach to reshaping your smile. And, patients who play contact sports should be aware that Invisalign is a safer choice than braces, to lower the risk of orthodontic or soft tissue injuries to the mouth from such sports.

Invisalign is an effective orthodontic treatment and has been around for about 20 years now. They’re suitable for both teens and adults, and are customized to each patient. Your MPDG dentist will start by taking digital 3D images of your teeth, then have the aligners made to fit them precisely. Over the course of months, you’ll receive several sets of new aligners, each one getting your teeth a little closer to the final goal. Invisalign aligners are easy to clean and come with an Invisalign cleaning system to help you keep them clean.

Why Braces?

Even with all the benefits and good qualities of Invisalign, there are good reasons why you and your dentist might want to choose braces for you instead. There are some complex orthodontic problems that Invisalign can’t fully address. For instance, if you have persistent bite issues with your back teeth, or if teeth need to be moved vertically or rotated, braces are a more effective choice. Patients with existing bridgework should also not use Invisalign, because the pressure on the teeth can’t be customized to protect the bridgework the way an orthodontist can with braces.

Another consideration, especially for teenagers, is whether they will have the discipline to keep Invisalign aligners in for up to 22 hours a day. Braces can’t be taken out, so you can be sure they are working. However, Invisalign has come up with blue indicators on the aligners so that parents can check and see if their teens are wearing the aligners enough.

Every patient is different, so it’s important to talk with your dentist about which treatment option is the best for you. Whether it’s Invisalign or braces or another option, MPDG is here to help point you in the right direction to solve your dental problems and help you get the smile you want to see.

What to Expect with Dental Sedation

Dental sedation doesn’t need to be a fearful or worrisome experience for patients — It’s a very common procedure that makes many dental treatments easier to perform, and helps patients relax and get through the treatment pain-free.

There are a variety of drugs used in dental sedation, and which ones your dentist will use depends on factors like age, weight, overall health, any allergies, anxiety and other medical conditions, and what procedure is being done. They include medications for pain control, to induce sleep, and to help relaxation.

Sedation vs. Anesthesia

Sedation is different from anesthesia. With nearly every dental procedure, a local anesthetic is also used, whether you’re sedated or not. This is usually done with a precisely targeted local injection in your mouth to numb the area being worked on and ensure you don’t feel pain during treatment. Local anesthetic wears off over the course of a few hours after it’s given. There are no special precautions or side effects associated with it, except we usually advise patients to be careful while biting or chewing, to avoid damaging the numbed area while they can’t feel it.

In some major oral surgeries, like wisdom teeth extraction, you may also undergo general anesthesia, which results in a temporary loss of consciousness during the procedure. When this is used, patients are not awake or aware of anything while under anesthesia. Recovery can take up to a day before you’ll be back to normal, and you won’t remember the experience.

Conscious Sedation

More commonly, some form of conscious sedation is used to reduce fear, anxiety and pain in dental office visits. The experience of being sedated is a little different for everyone, but there are some common things you can expect during each kind of sedation. What type of sedation you’ll have depends on what kind of dental work is being done, how long it will take, and your own personal medical history. Often, dental sedation is used for both children and anxious patients to help them relax and get through the procedure calmly and safely. It’s also possible to combine two different forms of sedation for patients who are very anxious or who have challenges or resistances to anesthesia.

Oral Sedation

This is a form of conscious sedation induced with oral medications before the procedure. Oral sedation is good for longer or more complex dental work, and is always customized to the needs of each patient. Patients take a combination of sedatives and anti-anxiety medications before their treatment. When they arrive at the dentist’s office, the dentist gives them additional medication if needed.

When the dentist is sure you’re adequately and safely sedated, he or she can proceed with the needed dental procedures. Patients report this experience is like being half-asleep and half-awake. They often can respond to direct questions or instructions, but don’t remember much about the procedures themselves once the sedation wears off. Typically, people who have oral sedation will be feeling normal again soon, but we don’t suggest that they drive, work, or make big plans for the rest of their day, to allow the effects of the medications to completely clear their system.

Nitrous Oxide

Often called laughing gas, this form of sedation is given in gas form through a nasal mask or tube before and during dental procedures. The gas is odorless and takes effect quickly, and the dose is calculated for each patient. This method is common for sedating children, because its effects fade quickly afterward and its use allows patients to remain fully conscious. What patients report feeling with nitrous oxide sedation is a sense of relaxation, comfort, and happiness, which gives the gas its popular nickname.

There is no memory loss after nitrous oxide sedation, and adult patients can often drive themselves home or go back to work. Children sometimes experience sleepiness or nausea afterward, so it’s best if they don’t return to school or daycare.

At Monterey Peninsula Dental Group, our concern is always our patients’ well-being. We understand that undergoing sedation can be a frightening idea for many people, and we work hard to minimize any associated risks. With any anesthesia or sedation, we carefully monitor each patient’s responses and vital signs to ensure the medications are working throughout the treatment. We also ensure our staff and dentists who administer sedatives and anesthetics are well-trained and qualified to do so, and follow all guidelines for patient safety closely. Your dentist will work with you to explain every step of the sedation process and what you can expect.

How Safe is Sedation Dentistry?

While it may seem being sedated during a dental visit could be risky, that impression couldn’t be farther from the truth. One misconception that leads to worries about sedation dentistry is that it’s like undergoing anesthesia before surgery. In reality, it’s more like taking a prescription sedative for most patients.

For patients who have fears or anxiety about dental work, sedation before procedures actually makes the experience safer and more comfortable. If you struggle with going to the dentist because of worry, fear or anxiety, or if you’ve had negative past experiences with dental work, gentle sedation can help. Other reasons to have sedation dentistry or conscious sedation might include having phobias of needles or drills, having a poor gag reflex or a resistance to anesthetics. Sedation can also help patients who need long, in-depth dental treatments or who have a limited amount of time and need a lot of dental work performed.

At MPDG, we also offer sedation to help children who are very fearful at the dentist’s office, or who have to undergo long dental procedures and may not be able to keep still. Parents are often understandably concerned about having their child sedated. Your MPDG dentist will be happy to talk with you and answer any questions about the safety and efficacy of sedation. For most patients, including children, it is a very safe and comfortable experience.

Types of Sedation

Dental sedation can be done in a few different ways. Choosing a method depends on the patient, what kind of dental work is needed, and how long a procedure might take.

Oral conscious sedation is what is usually referred to when we talk about sedation dentistry. This type of sedation is done with oral medications taken before the dental appointment. The type and amount of sedative medication depends on the patient, and is carefully personalized to ensure the right amount of sedation. These may also include anti-anxiety medication if that is the reason for the sedation.

This method results in a relaxed, half-awake state during the treatment. Patients can still respond to directions from the dentist and won’t be unconscious. With conscious sedation, you’ll need someone to take you to and from the appointment, as driving is not possible for the patient.

Nitrous oxide sedation is another choice, best suited for simpler or shorter treatments, as its effects don’t last as long. It’s especially good for children who may need sedation during routine appointments. Sometimes called laughing gas, it’s administered through a breathing mask or tube, and customized precisely to suit each individual patient. Patients don’t fall asleep during nitrous oxide sedation, and can usually go back to work or drive themselves home afterward.

Risks of Sedation

The safety of our patients is our top concern when using any kind of sedation or anesthetic. We adhere closely to all medical guidelines for amounts of sedative and techniques used to administer them. There are, however, a few factors that might require we avoid the use of sedation for a specific patient. Some lifestyle habits, like smoking and drinking, may affect sedation, as do some medications and health conditions, like sleep apnea. A thorough health history is taken to ensure every patient’s safety.

During sedation, we carefully monitor heart rate, blood pressure and other vital signs, to make sure sedation is safe and effective throughout dental treatment.

Children can sometimes have difficulty dealing with the aftereffects of sedation, which may include dizziness, sleepiness and nausea. We always recommend that children who undergo sedation dentistry do not go back to school or daycare afterward, and that they are monitored by a parent or responsible adult.

We’re also happy to answer any questions or explain steps of sedation and monitoring to patients who are curious about the process. Our staff places the highest priority on making each and every patient feel comfortable with their dental care, and sedation dentistry offers us options for doing just that. Get in touch with your MPDG dentist with any questions or concerns you have about sedation.


What to Expect After Dental Implants

Getting dental implants to replace missing or damaged teeth can be a long process from start to finish. A common question from patients who may benefit from the procedure is what the recovery time and post-operative care will be like. We’ll answer that in this blog, along with explaining the procedures that make up dental implant surgery.

The process of placing dental implants has several steps, with their own recovery times and precautions to take along the way. Each patient’s surgery can be different, depending on the health of your teeth and jawbone, and on how many implants are needed. Your MPDG dentist will talk with you about the specifics of your care and explain what the best approach is for you as a patient. In some cases, some of these steps may be able to be combined, shortening the total surgery and recovery time.

Getting Ready for Implants

For some patients, dental implant surgery begins with removing the damaged tooth. This is a common dental procedure, but can take a few weeks to recover from before moving forward. It’s crucial to follow your dentist’s post-extraction instructions carefully to prevent complications like dry socket or infection.

For others, it might begin with bone grafting or bone regeneration procedures to strengthen the jawbone. A strong, stable bone in the area of the implant is necessary to support the force of biting and chewing with the eventual replacement tooth. These procedures rely on bone healing, so can take six to eight weeks for full recovery.

Dental Implant Surgery

Once you’re ready for dental implant placement, the longest part of the process begins. Your oral surgeon will make a small cut in your gums to reach the jawbone, then drill a hole and place a titanium implant in it, to stand in for the missing tooth roots. This is done under anesthesia or sedation, so you shouldn’t drive afterward, and should plan to rest for the remainder of the day after your surgery.

The recovery time from this part of the procedure can take several months. As the process of bone healing goes on, the implant will fuse with the healing bone around it and essentially become part of your jaw. Titanium is used as the material for dental implants specifically because of its ability to permanently bond with bone tissue. This means much less noise and slippage compared to dentures, and also improves on the stability and lifetime of the restoration work compared to fixed bridges.

If your missing tooth is in the front of your mouth, you may have a temporary replacement tooth placed during this healing process, for appearances. This is a kind of partial temporary denture, and can be removed for cleaning and at night.

Final Steps

After the dental implant has healed, there’s often one more surgical step — placing a small attachment, called an abutment or collar, on the top of the implant. This provides a base for the crown or replacement tooth to attach when it’s ready. The abutment usually requires local anesthesia.

For some patients, the abutment might be attached during the original implant procedure, but that means the abutment will be visible above the gumline throughout the long healing time. Many patients don’t like how that looks, so it’s placed later on instead. Either way, the abutment attaches to the metal post of the implant, and the gum tissue is closed around it. This requires about two weeks of healing for your gums before the final replacement tooth or teeth can be placed.

After that, impressions will be taken for the creation of your new artificial tooth. These new teeth may be either removable or fixed; your dentist will consult with you about what’s best for your case.

Finally, your new crowns or replacement teeth will be attached to the abutments and you’ll be ready to face the world with a new smile. It may take some time to adjust to the replacement tooth, so follow your dentist’s aftercare instructions closely to ensure everything goes well.

Expected Side Effects

As with any dental surgery, you may have some discomfort during healing from one or all stages of the implant process. Side effects that are normal and expected include swelling around the gums and in your face, slight bruising, pain at the implant site, and minor bleeding. It’s usually recommended to avoid hard foods during healing, and your oral surgeon may prescribe pain medication or antibiotics after surgery to help you heal.

If at any time during the healing periods you find that these issues get worse or are causing too much pain, get in touch with your surgeon right away to make sure the problems don’t persist.

Caring for Your Implants

There are things you can do to increase the success rate of dental implants. The failure rate is very low, but there is a significant correlation between smoking and tobacco use and dental implant failure. If you smoke, quit before having this procedure for the best chance at success. If the implant does fail, it has to be removed, and the surgery can be tried again after a few months.

You also can take steps to care well for your teeth and implants after surgery. Keep your teeth, gums and dental work clean by regularly brushing and flossing. There are interdental brushes that can help you clean around and between dental implants and your teeth for a deeper cleaning.

You also should check in with your dentist regularly to maintain the health of your teeth and implants. And, of course, avoid activities that can crack or damage your teeth or implants, like opening bottles with your teeth, chewing on hard candy or ice, or grinding your teeth at night. If the last is a problem for you, talk with your MPDG dentist for possible treatments, like a night guard.

The best guideline to follow post-implants is to communicate any problems right away to your dentist, and don’t hesitate to call if you have any concerns or questions about recovery and post-op care.

Dental Implants: What Are The Alternatives?

When facing a missing tooth, there are several alternatives for replacement, but the most advanced and often-recommended solution is a dental implant. As with every dental issue, the details of what that might mean for you is highly individual, with each patient being different.

At Monterey Peninsula Dental Group, we have several experienced implant dentists who can work with you on a treatment plan that is customized to your needs, dental history and the implant options that best suit your situation. Our cutting-edge imaging tools and our in-house ability to craft dental restorations will help shorten the timeline of your implant treatment and ensure that your replacement teeth fit your mouth and jaw flawlessly.

Dental implants function as the replacement root structure for a missing tooth, anchoring it in place in your jawbone. It often takes some time for an implant to bond with the bone and heal up to the point where a replacement tooth can be placed. But when it’s all done, you’ll have a strong tooth replacement that looks, feels and functions just like a natural tooth.

Types of Implants

The type of dental implant your dentist will recommend is based on your particular needs for tooth replacement. Because implants are anchored in and bond with your natural jawbone, its condition is an important consideration during the implant process.

The most common type of implant is an endosteal implant, which resembles a tiny screw and is usually titanium. These are placed directly in the jawbone and can support any type of dental restoration. Often, these are done with a single tooth, but it’s also possible to place several at once if you’re missing a few in a row, for example.

Another, less common type of implant is called subperiosteal dental implants. These are secured in the soft tissue of your gum and sit on or above the jawbone. They’re used in cases where the patient does not have enough healthy bone tissue to support an implant, but can’t undergo bone regeneration or augmentation to create new bone.

There are also other types of dental implants available, mostly suited to special circumstances. Typically, getting dental implants is a multi-step process spanning several months. But there is a type of implant called immediate load dental implants, which place both the implant and a replacement tooth at the same time. That’s best suited for patients with plenty of healthy jawbone and an implant secure enough to support pressure on the new replacement tooth right away.

Miniature dental implants are sometimes used in the creation of dental restorations like bridges and dentures. These are toothpick-sized implants, also called narrow diameter implants, and they are less invasive, but typically used just to stabilize other dental work.

Dental Implants Vs. Dentures and Bridges

Dental implants are permanent fixes, and should not need to be replaced in a patient’s lifetime, unlike many other types of dental restorations, like dentures or bridges. While the replacement tooth may wear out or become damaged at some point, the metal implant itself won’t be going anywhere, and will always provide a stable base to strengthen your jawbone for any future restoration, if needed.

In the case of fixed bridges, which attach a false tooth to its neighbors for support, we expect a lifetime of 5 to 15 years, the average being around 10 years. For dentures, a lifespan of 7 to 15 years is expected, and most patients, in addition, find dentures less stable and comfortable than dental implants.

Talk to your MPDG dentist about the dental restoration options that might be right for you. We’re always happy to hear from new or current patients about their concerns. You can contact us online anytime, or give us a call during office hours at (831) 373-3068.

Veneers Vs. Crowns

Among the many restorative dentistry technologies available to improve your smile and correct dental problems, it’s easy to get lost in comparing treatments and trying to figure out what the right approach for you personally might be. Here, we’ll talk about two of the more versatile options to restore good dental health and appearance: veneers and crowns.

Repairing Damaged Teeth

Both crowns and veneers have the ability to fix several common dental problems. Gaps between teeth, misshapen or crooked teeth, stains and discolorations, and minor cracks and chips are some of the dental issues for which you might be considering a crown or veneer.

Sometimes, the location of the tooth will have an impact on which is a better choice. For instance, front teeth are the most visible, and concerns about appearance might make a veneer a more attractive option when we’re trying to fix damaged teeth in the front of the mouth. The severity and location of the damage is also a consideration. Veneers are placed on one side of the tooth, while crowns repair the tops of teeth. It’s also possible to combine both restorative options depending on how extensive the damage or discoloration is and how many teeth are affected.


Here’s a little on how veneers work, and what might make them the right restorative choice for your smile. The veneers we use are extremely thin, porcelain shells that we bond directly to the front surface of the teeth in question. This stabilizes small chips and cracks, but would not address deep cracking or damage to the tops and backs of teeth.

Appearance-wise, porcelain veneers create a very attractive, clean, white and natural-looking smile, so they’re the treatment of choice for cosmetic issues like staining, discoloration, and badly shaped teeth. Crooked and gapped teeth also are common reasons for choosing veneers. If you have issues with your tooth enamel, the porcelain can help protect your teeth in place of healthy enamel.

Veneers are made especially for each patient, to match each individual tooth. They also blend in well with your other teeth, able to take on your natural tooth color because of the thinness of the ceramic layer. Veneers typically last anywhere from 10 to 15 years, and would have to be replaced after that.


Crowns are also sometimes made partially of porcelain or ceramic, and traditional gold crowns are another option. Crowns, sometimes called caps, are also made to custom-fit each tooth on an individual basis. They can cover the top of the tooth and wrap around the upper part of the sides, fitting precisely as needed to cover damage, and support broken or cracked teeth. They also can smooth out jagged top edges of teeth, and preserve and strengthen damaged or worn-down teeth that otherwise might be at risk of needing a root canal or even extraction.

Crowns consist of a tooth-like covering that’s both protective and supportive, placed over the top of your natural tooth. They can be attached to other dental work, like bridges, and are a permanent restorative procedure. There are different types of crown materials and methods of fabrication, which your MPDG dentist can discuss with you and evaluate which is best in your case.

Both veneers and crowns are created in our office, customized for each individual patient using CEREC technology. This allows us to serve our patients quickly and effectively with the best dental technology available. If you’re wondering what your choices are for improving your smile, we’re happy to consult with you about how best to address your dental concerns — get in touch with us online anytime, or book an appointment with us to see a qualified and experienced MPDG dentist.

Your Options for Dental Veneers

When you’re considering dental veneers, whether that’s for restorative or cosmetic reasons, it’s important to know what your choices are. Veneers are often used to improve the appearance of your smile, and can be used on discolored teeth, broken or chipped teeth, misshapen teeth or teeth with large gaps between them. They can be made from a variety of materials that affect their lifespan and endurance. For more on how veneers work, see our blog on veneers here

Porcelain & Ceramic Veneers

The toughest, longest-lasting, but also most expensive type of veneer is porcelain or ceramic. Porcelain veneers were the first modern veneers developed in the 1980s, and have been used with great success ever since. Current dental technology has also made it possible for us to create veneers with new types of ceramic material, which may be appropriate depending on the individual patient.

Either ceramic or porcelain veneers are machined using CAD/CAM programs to perfectly match the needs of each tooth. We can even do this in a Same-Day Smile visit, where your veneers are prepared and placed in our office all in one appointment, instead of the usual three. Get in touch with our office to see if that’s a good choice for you.

Traditional porcelain veneers are preferred for cosmetic purposes, because their thin, pristine surface gives such a clean, white appearance. However, if a patient has other challenges of restorative dentistry, like damaged enamel or misshapen teeth, ceramics offer a sturdier, thicker surface that may be the better choice.

Your dentist will evaluate each individual case to determine which is the right material for your veneers. There is no distinguishable difference in the lifespan or function between porcelain and ceramic veneers, and they’re often referred to interchangeably by dentists. These veneers will typically last between 10 and 15 years, and possibly longer with good dental care.

Composite Veneers

Sometimes called no-prep veneers, these are created by your dentist from a material similar to what we use in dental bonding procedures. The composite material is a resin, and softer than ceramic veneers, with a shorter lifespan of five to seven years. However, this material is sometimes chosen because of its comparatively lower price to porcelain veneers. It’s also possible your dentist may combine composite and porcelain veneers depending on your individual dental needs and what may be the best option for each tooth needing a veneer.

Good Veneer Care

Caring for all types of veneers is similar to how you would care for your own natural teeth, with regular and thorough brushing and flossing, accompanied by regular dental cleanings. But there are things you can do to help extend their life, such as not chewing on hard objects like pens, ice or fingernails, not opening packaging or bottles with your teeth, and avoiding chewing hard foods with your front teeth.

It’s also important to wear a mouth guard during sports, or at night, if you tend to grind or clench your teeth while sleeping.

Get in touch with your MPDG dentist if you have questions about whether veneers are right for you, and to find out what he or she might recommend to treat your dental concerns. 

Are Veneers Permanent?

Considering veneers as a solution to fix unsightly, discolored, cracked or crooked teeth? A common concern is how long the veneers will last. Every patient is different, and some smiles may have more longevity than others, depending on the extent of the veneers needed, other dental problems, and how well you take care of your teeth.

How Long Veneers Last

As an average, the type of porcelain veneers we use here at Monterey Peninsula Dental Group last patients between 10 and 15 years before they need to be replaced. So, they are not permanent, but are a long-term fix for some dental problems. Confusion sometimes occurs with the permanency of veneers. It’s easy to think that at the end of those 10 or 15 years, the veneers will simply come off and your smile will return to the way it looked before. That’s not the case, however.

During the application of veneers to your teeth, the top layer of enamel is removed to make the bonding with the porcelain material secure and stable. This process is irreversible and without the veneers, your teeth would be unprotected. That means when the veneers reach the end of their life, you will need to replace them with new ones, since you will not have your natural tooth enamel anymore. In a sense, having veneers is permanent, but the veneers themselves are not, so you won’t keep the same set forever.

Veneer Basics

It often helps to understand exactly what veneers are. Porcelain veneers are very thin, ceramic shells that fit your front teeth precisely and are bonded directly to the surface of your teeth. They can fix problems including gaps between teeth, discoloring, graying and stains, badly shaped or crooked teeth, and minor cracks. They are used only in the front of the mouth, and are considered a cosmetic dentistry procedure, although there are restorative aspects to having veneers done. You can find out all the details of how veneers are applied here on our site.

While veneers are not permanent, they remain a popular option for restoring an attractive appearance to your smile, because they most closely imitate the strength and appearance of natural tooth enamel. The porcelain shells are so thin that light actually can shine through them. This allows them to reflect your natural tooth color and blend in perfectly with surrounding teeth. We make sure to use the highest quality of porcelain, to give our patients the longest-lasting veneers possible.

Keep Veneers Strong for Longer

There are lots of ways to maximize the longevity and appearance of your veneers. While the fine porcelain is resistant to staining from common sources like coffee and cigarettes, avoiding these and other discoloring substances like tea and red wine will help keep them looking clean and white for their entire life.

Keeping up a good at-home care routine is also really important for veneers. Brushing and flossing well  will keep them healthy and looking good — our only caveat is that it’s better to use a non-abrasive or sensitive toothpaste to minimize any wear on the porcelain. And, if you are someone who grinds or clenches their teeth at night, talk to us about a recommended soft mouth guard to protect your veneers while you’re sleeping.

Other habits to avoid with veneers include anything that tends to chip or crack teeth, like chewing on ice, biting fingernails, pens or other items, and eating very hard foods. It’s also important, if you play sports, to make sure you wear a well-rated and protective dental mouth guard. We also recommend avoiding actions like using your teeth to open packaging, bottles, and condiments.

No-Prep or Composite Resin Veneers

There’s also another type of veneer sometimes used, which lasts a shorter period of time and is the result of a very different procedure. They’re sometimes called no-prep veneers because they don’t require the extensive preparation and bonding time that porcelain veneers do. Or, you might see them called composite resin veneers, for the material they’re made from.

Composite veneers resemble dental bonding more than traditional veneers, and consist of a layer of resin applied over the front tooth. They can be customized to the exact shade of your teeth, and are less expensive than porcelain veneers. But, they only last a short period of time, from five to seven years on average, according to the Consumers Guide to Dentistry. This means they will need to be replaced sooner and may even cost more in the long run, depending on how many replacements a patient goes through.

Dental Implants – A Permanent Fix

If you have a badly damaged tooth or a tooth that otherwise isn’t well suited to a veneer, another option is a dental implant. This is permanent, and replaces your natural tooth with a custom-fabricated replacement tooth. The implant is anchored by a metal post placed in the bone below the tooth, and both looks and functions just like a regular tooth. Talk with your MPDG dentist about whether this long-term restorative option might work for you.

Whichever type of veneer or other restoration treatment is best for you, our cosmetic dentists at Monterey Peninsula Dental Group are experienced with all the options and will be happy to talk with you about the decision to get veneers. We welcome patients from all across the Monterey Peninsula. Get in touch to learn more about our cosmetic and restorative dental treatments by contacting us online anytime.