The planning of the most complex dental treatments is, in turn, necessarily complex. For this reason, there are certain phases or steps that some patients do not understand. In the world of dental aesthetics, more specifically in the placement of dental veneers, the procedure that is often not understood by patients is the mock-up or simulation.
Although it may seem to some people to be an 'in-between' and somewhat tedious step, it is neither. It is a fundamental and basic step in this treatment. Let me explain what it is and why it is done:
What is a mock up?
The mock up is a test that we carry out directly in the patient's mouth during the treatment of dental veneers. It is a removable provisional that simulates the final result of the smile design chosen by the dentist and the patient, in order to test it before the milling and fitting phase.
In this way, without having administered a drop of anaesthetic or touched teeth or gums, both the dentist who designed the veneers and the patient who is to wear them can evaluate the planning and correct, if necessary, any details that they consider could be improved.
How is the mock up made?
The first step we take when a patient shows interest in veneers, even for an initial assessment, is to take a reliable measurement of their teeth with an intraoral scanner. This type of optical scanner (which does not emit radiation) generates a virtual 3D recreation of the patient's mouth, which can then be used for treatment planning.
Photos are also taken to serve as a reference for the prosthetic laboratory specialising in dental aesthetics, helping to design the patient's smile under the instructions of one of the members of our aesthetics team, who will be responsible for the entire treatment.
The next step will be what is known as 'smile design', which is carried out completely computerised. The ideal shape of the veneers is then designed. The laboratory, together with the photos, uses this to produce a simulation of the patient's final teeth and a 'silicone key'. It is something like a negative that allows us to bring the result of this procedure to the mouth.
We put a tooth-coloured resin in the key and bring it to our mouth so that we can see our simulation.
Why is it so important?
The mock up is a reference guide to continue the rest of the treatment. Thanks to it we know beforehand if we want to make teeth bigger or smaller, how they are going to look in proportion to each other and to the rest of your face, we can try out the final colour...
I like to tell my patients that the mock up is 'a starting point and not a finishing point'. It is from this test that we decide in which direction we want to orientate the treatment so that the final result is the best possible for both the patient and for us.