If flashing a big grin makes you uncomfortable because your teeth are discolored, chipped or crooked, veneers may help boost your confidence and put that perfect smile within your reach. But are porcelain or composite veneers better? Here's what to keep in mind when considering each type of veneer. Remember that your dentist can provide guidance on the best cosmetic treatment option for you.
What Are Veneers?
Veneers are fingernail-like shells that are custom fit and permanently bonded to the fronts of your teeth. They are made of thin layers of either porcelain or a strong composite resin.
Veneers can hide dental imperfections, such as chips, slight gaps, overlaps or stains that do not respond well to tooth whitening, according to the American Dental Association. Because veneers retain more of the natural tooth, they are considered less invasive than dental crowns, which are commonly used to strengthen heavily decayed or broken-down teeth.
Because they are created to match the shape and color of your natural teeth, porcelain veneers look very natural, and it's hard to tell which teeth have veneers and which do not. They are strong, long-lasting and stain-resistant. The procedure is irreversible because some of the enamel has to be removed to place the veneer on the tooth. So make sure you are confident about your decision before getting veneers.
Depending on individual circumstances, porcelain veneers may cost between $800 and $2,000 per tooth, and they are usually not covered by dental insurance. However, they can last between 10 to 20 years.
Veneer Application Procedure
Porcelain veneers need to be made in a lab. The first step will be to schedule an initial consultation with your cosmetic dentist to determine what improvements you are hoping to achieve. The dentist may create a mock-up, allowing you to preview your new and improved smile. Once you've agreed on the treatment plan, the dentist will prepare your teeth by taking off a small amount of enamel from the fronts and sides of the teeth that will receive veneers. Afterward, they will take impressions of your teeth and send them to a lab. The correct shade will also be determined before the impressions go to the lab.
Since it usually takes the lab a week or two to make the veneers, your dentist may place temporary veneers on your teeth. When the veneers are returned from the lab, you and your dentist will confirm that the shape, fit and color are perfect. Your dentist will bond the finished veneers to your teeth with a light-sensitive resin.
Composite resin is a less expensive material that is also tooth-colored and frequently used for veneers. Composite veneers may also be made in a lab, in which case the procedural steps are the same as with porcelain veneers.
As an alternative, this kind of veneer can be made and placed by your dentist during a single visit, according to a study published in the Journal of Dental Research, Dental Clinics, Dental Prospects. After preparing and reshaping your teeth, your dentist will choose a shade and then sculpt the material directly on your teeth. The material hardens under a special light that bonds it securely to the enamel. The finishing touch is smoothing and polishing the composite resin so that it has a natural appearance.
The British Dental Association notes that composite veneers require less preparation, cost less and are easier to repair than porcelain veneers. They can be installed in a single appointment, while porcelain veneers require a longer process. These factors make composite veneers a useful option for younger patients. However, these veneers may have a shorter lifespan and wear down more easily than porcelain.
Veneers are a permanent commitment, so make sure that you're fully informed about your options before deciding what material is best for you. By working closely with your dentist, you can determine if you are a good candidate for veneers and find the best way to improve the appearance of your smile.