Porcelain veneers allow you to transform your smile, hiding numerous cosmetic issues like staining, chipped teeth, and abnormally shaped teeth. However, once you have the veneers put into place, you want to ensure they last a lifetime. They’re not cheap to replace, so it’s worth your while to do all you can to keep them — and your underlying teeth — in the best shape possible.
There are a number of common habits that are bad for veneers and for the overall dental health of patients with veneers. If you have any of these habits, you may want to change them before you get veneers to keep them in their best condition.
Grinding Your Teeth
Many people grind or clench their teeth at night. This is not good even for natural teeth, but it can easily lead to chipped or cracked veneers. One problem is that many people are not aware that they do it. Have your partner or a friend observe you sleeping for a few nights and tell you whether you grind your teeth. If you wake up with an aching jaw, you should also assume you grind your teeth.
How to Break It
Nighttime tooth grinding is often related to stress, so taking steps to reduce your stress levels should help you break the habit. Try meditating for 30 minutes before bed or eliminating activities that stress you out from your daily routine. You can also have your dentist fit you with a mouth guard to wear once you get your veneers. This way if you do grind your teeth, there will be a layer of rubberized material between your teeth to prevent friction that leads to chips and cracks.
Using Abrasive and Whitening Toothpaste
Especially if you’re getting veneers because you want your teeth to appear whiter, you may currently be using a whitening toothpaste. However, whitening toothpastes typically contain abrasive agents that may slowly remove the glazing agents used to coat porcelain veneers. Over time, this will dull the look of your veneers.
How to Break It
Luckily, this habit is easy to break. Just toss out your whitening toothpaste and purchase an all-purpose, non-whitening toothpaste. Steer clear of those that contain baking soda, too—it’s also an abrasive agent. Make sure the toothpaste you choose is ADA-approved and contains fluoride. Fluoride will help keep the enamel on your teeth strong, making them less prone to cavities. If you’re struggling to decide on a toothpaste, ask your dentist to recommend one.
Chewing On Your Fingernails or Other Hard Objects
The porcelain used to make veneers is very hard, but it is slightly more brittle than your natural tooth enamel. This means your veneers are likely to chip or crack if you bite down on hard items like your fingernails, plastic packaging, or beer caps.
How to Break It
Unfortunately, breaking a nail biting habit is often easier said than done, so you’ll want to work on cracking this habit well in advance of your veneer application appointment. Some tips that may help include:
- Getting a manicure. You may have an easier time not biting your nails when you want to preserve your perfect new look.
- Keeping your hands occupied. Play with Silly Putty, flip a coin between your fingers, or fiddle with your keys. If your hands are occupied, you can’t bite your nails.
- Keeping your mouth busy. Chew gum, sip on water throughout the day, or suck on sugar-free candy.
Habits like opening beer bottles and packaging with your teeth are easier to break. Start carrying miniature scissors and a bottle opener in your purse or wallet so you always have a good way to open these items.
Drinking a Lot of Dark Liquids
You don’t really have to worry about staining your veneers; porcelain is very resistant to stains. However, you do need to worry about staining the teeth that are not covered with veneers. The darker they become, the more obvious the difference between them and your veneers will become.
The most common culprits for tooth staining include coffee and red wine. If you drink a lot of either one of these liquids, it’s best to cut back drastically before you get your veneers.
How to Break It
Usually, the best strategy is to replace your coffee or red wine with a similar product that won’t stain. If you’re a wine drinker, go to a wine tasting event where you can try white wines and find good go-to whites to drink in place of reds. If you like coffee, switch to a lighter roast, which is not so staining, or opt for a pale-colored herbal tea instead.
By avoiding tooth grinding, using a non-abrasive toothpaste, breaking any nail or plastic biting habits, and steering clear of staining liquids, you can keep your veneers in better shape. Don’t wait until you have veneers to work on breaking these habits—get a jump start now for best results. Speak with your cosmetic dentist for more tips and advice.