The rise of the cosmetic dentist in the 1980s follows the beginning of the porcelain veneer. Its immediate effect on transforming appearance shook up dentistry from an important/prudent and strictly medical establishment to a more casual relaxed atmosphere with the feel of the 1980s.

The way you could walk into a dental clinic for a veneer fitting was regarded as transformative. But there was still a delay between taking measurements for veneers and having a technician manufacture them before fitting.

The idea behind the bonding was – could a dental cement and artificial enamel be placed directly on to the patient’s teeth and sculpted to a finish comparable to a veneer?

If so, could a one visit instant dental procedure be possible? It was, and composite bonding Harley Street was developed.

The veneer

To start, the first veneers were temporary and were used as part of special effects make-up in the 1920s. There were attempts from the beginning to use dental porcelain, which was already in clinics being used to make crowns, as an alternative, but the issue was how to keep the porcelain attached to the tooth surface.

This was solved by tooth etching; the front surfaces of the enamel are now scored to allow the dental adhesive to hold the veneer in place. Another challenge that dentists faced was the creation of a quality, reliable dental adhesive. Anything soluble or requiring high temperatures would be unsuitable.

An air setting ‘super glue’ would not give the dentists the required time to fit the veneer and perform the trimming that may be required.

There were also questions about how much enamel was being lost during the fitting of laminates and if this was in the patient’s best long term interests. The focus turned to the shaving of less enamel and better adhesives for the procedure.

This resulted in very thin porcelain veneers which hardened under UV light, allowing a UV light curing resin to be used to secure the veneer.

The veneer

The bonding

Bonding uses many of the terms from the older procedure of laminates, but the process is quite different. With layers of UV cured resin built up over the tooth (like a ‘veneer’ before it is sculpted) bonding was seen as a cheap and less attractive alternative to veneers.

This is no longer the case with the improvement in dental resins. A reduction in curing times allowed more layers to be applied and by varying the opacity of different layers, dentists were able to create a very convincing artificial enamel.

The dentist’s skill

The way bonding is performed over a laminate puts more responsibilities on the competence and expertise of the dental practitioner. It is not as reliable as a set of veneers produced by a dental technician.

This has made checking the qualifications and experience of your dentist important if you are looking into bondings. This has become expected within dentistry, with many practitioners publicly displaying portfolios of past work alongside their British Dental Council licence to practice to reassure patients of their skill.

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