Stains and blemishes can take away from the attractive looks of your porcelain veneers. Some of these stains can also indicate lingering problems that you should have your cosmetic dentist take care of immediately. These include microleakage, an issue that could affect the look and help of your porcelain veneers. If you've noticed stains along the edges of your porcelain veneers, then you may be dealing with microleakage.
What Causes Microleakage
Porcelain veneers resist stains well, but there are some areas that are more vulnerable than others. These areas include the gumline, where the tooth is covered with bonding resin instead of the actual porcelain veneer. It's not unusual for the bonding resin to pick up stains, but heavy staining could indicate the more serious problem of microleakage.
After the process of bonding the veneer to the tooth, there may be a microscopic gap left over between the tooth and the veneer. Over time, bacteria-laden gingival fluid from the gums can leak into this microscopic space and multiply, resulting in a highly visible stain along the edge of the veneer. The bacteria also weaken the bond between the tooth and the veneer, causing the latter to break down and eventually fail if left untreated.
Gingival fluid can also actively infiltrate the spaces between the veneer and tooth during the bonding process. Although cosmetic dentists have techniques to prevent this from happening, there's still a chance that this fluid can become trapped underneath the veneer. This not only leaves behind a weak bond, but the underlying bacteria can also cause tooth decay in a short period of time.
What to Do About Microleakage
If you suspect you're dealing with microleakage, you should have your cosmetic dentist take a close look at the problem area as soon as possible. If the issue turns out to be minor bonding resin stains, your dentist may simply polish the affected area until the stain disappears.
If your dentist detects microleakage, however, your dentist may attempt to re-bond the affected area after removing the deteriorated bonding resin with a microetcher. If there's tooth decay underneath, your dentist will address that issue prior to re-bonding the veneer. In some cases, your dentist may decide to replace the veneer altogether.
How to Prevent Microleakage
Microleakage prevention starts at the dentist's office. Your cosmetic dentist should always use the correct surface preparation and bonding techniques to prevent microleakage from occurring. In addition, regular polishing of the margin areas near the gumline can also help prevent microleakage.
It's also up to you to take preventive steps against microleakage. For starters, regular brushing and flossing can help keep margin areas clean and prevent bacteria from taking hold. You should also moderate your alcohol consumption, as contact with alcoholic beverages can cause the composite bonding resin to soften and eventually deteriorate.