Using porcelain veneers to close the gaps between teeth.

Dentists may place porcelain veneers for a variety of reasons. This page's digital makeover features an example where a set of them could be placed to close in the spaces between several teeth.

Case issues and concerns:

  • This person has several spaces between their teeth. (Each individual space is termed a "diastema.")
  • From a dental-health standpoint, the existence of a diastema is of no concern. From a cosmetic one however, many people prefer to have their gaps closed in.
  • This person's upper left lateral incisor appears to be flared out just a bit.
  • Their lower right eyetooth is rotated just slightly, which leaves just a bit of space showing between it and the next tooth forward.
  • When compared to the lower teeth, the upper teeth appear dark.
  • This smile has several tooth gaps. The upper teeth are just slightly too dark.
    This smile has several tooth gaps. The upper teeth are just slightly too dark. This smile has several tooth gaps. The upper teeth are just slightly too dark.
  • After porcelain veneer placement and teeth whitening treatments.
    After porcelain veneer placement and teeth whitening treatments. After porcelain veneer placement and teeth whitening treatments.
 

Photo submitted by website visitor.

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Treatment solutions:

1) Placing veneers. -

Our after picture illustrates how placing porcelain veneers could give this person's smile a more pleasant and even look.

The idea is that the veneers are used to increase the size and shape (primarily the width) of the teeth, thus filling in the spaces between them.

2) Another approach. -

Some dentists might feel that dental crowns would make the better choice for making the types of changes we've illustrated. Obviously, the dentist treating this case would be the one who would need to make this decision.

Placing crowns is a more invasive process than porcelain veneers (more of the tooth must be trimmed away). But if greater restoration strength is needed, then they make the better choice. (More information: What is the difference between porcelain veneers and dental crowns?)

3) Treating the lower teeth. -

Our "after" picture also illustrates how placing just one dental crown on the patient's lower right could help to create a more uniform look for their lower teeth. It might be possible to make this same type of change using dental bonding. Once again, it would be up to the treating dentist to decide. (Between the two, dental crowns are typically considered to be a longer-lasting type of restoration.)

4) Teeth whitening. -

The "before" picture shows that there is a slight color discrepancy between this person's upper and lower teeth. This person might choose to use an at-home teeth whitening system to lighten them. These treatments should be completed some weeks before the porcelain veneer work is started.

One reason to use whitening treatments is this. The upper eyeteeth have the proper shape, they are just too dark. So, why place veneers on these teeth just to create a color change when a simpler process may get the job done. While there's no guarantee that whitening treatments will be successful, it's worth a try. They'll also help to blend in the (new) color of the upper front teeth with the back ones.

5) The consequences of closing tooth gaps. -

While closing tooth spaces is strictly a cosmetic issue, doing so has the potential to place the patient at some risk.

When gaps like these are left open, it's relatively difficult for dental plaque to accumulate and persist. Any plaque that does form can be removed easily with just a toothbrush (as opposed to requiring the use of dental floss).

But if these spaces closed, and if this person is lax with their oral home care (doesn't floss), then as months and years pass, the dental plaque that accumulates (and is allowed to persist) will place this person at greater risk for developing gum disease and cavities.

We're not saying that we're for or against closing in spaces between teeth. But it's important to understand that there are responsibilities that come along with doing so.

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