What is a Dental Veneer?
Dental veneers are a thin layer of composite or porcelain applied to the outer surface of the tooth by a cosmetic dentist to improve the appearance of that tooth. Veneers can be made of a thin shell of either porcelain or composite and are designed to mimic healthy tooth enamel.
A porcelain veneer is a thin layer of either feldspathic porcelain or lithium disilicate glass bonded directly to the tooth surface. Direct composite veneers are made of modern filling materials that are layered directly onto the tooth enamel surface.
Dental veneers have become a very popular treatment option when looking to restore natural teeth. The most common use of veneers in cosmetic dentistry is when you are looking to repair uneven teeth, teeth with worn enamel and teeth that have a stain resistant to tooth whitening.
Could composite veneers or porcelain veneers be right for me?
Dental veneers can be great for:
- People wanting a healthy smile and are looking to fix multiple aesthetic dental issues;
- Those who want white teeth when traditional tooth whitening is not successful;
- People with worn, chipped or damaged teeth;
- People with stained and discoloured teeth.
What is the difference between Porcelain and Composite Veneers?
Patients looking for veneers often wonder whether they should be considering composite vs porcelain. We have outlined some of the major considerations below.
Composite Veneers vs Porcelain Veneers - factors to consider
When considering veneers as an option for a smile makeover of your teeth a significant driving factor for many patients in the decision between composite veneers and porcelain veneers is cost.
Composite veneers are generally considered to be an affordable option with prices ranging from $600 - $1300 per tooth. This variation in cost is associated with the time required by the dentist to hand layer, shape and polish the composite. It is often cheaper if multiple teeth are involved as the dentist can create a more uniform appearance across those teeth.
An individual composite veneer is usually the most expensive option as it requires a lot of time and expertise to match the colours and character of the tooth to the adjacent natural teeth - nobody wants a different coloured tooth in the middle of their smile!
Porcelain veneers are usually considered to be the premium cost option with prices ranging from $1850 - $2480 per tooth. The cost difference in porcelain veneers again relates to the number of teeth required. An individual porcelain veneer may require the skills of our master ceramist to customise the colour and translucent properties of the material to completely blend in with the surrounding teeth. A smile makeover of multiple teeth will have a reduced cost per tooth as it requires less specific colour customisation to achieve a beautiful result in smile makeovers.
2) Cost of repairs and replacement
Although composite veneers are a cheaper option upfront, it's important to consider their cost over time.
Unlike porcelain veneers, composite veneers can have a short lifespan, and composite is less durable, they are more prone to staining, wear and damage. This means that they may need repair by your dentist more often.
Porcelain veneers are strong and last much longer, however if they are damaged, they cannot be repaired easily and may need to be replaced.
For both porcelain and composite veneer treatments, your cosmetic dentist will talk to you about how to maintain your smile makeover for as long as possible. It is important to treat your new veneers like you would your natural teeth, including to clean your teeth regularly and thoroughly, and make sure you have frequent check ups with your dentist.
3) Material Differences
Composite resin is the traditional tooth coloured filling material used for all modern fillings. Technological advancements in resin now allow it to be effectively used on the front teeth to change both shape and colour. There are significant drawbacks however when using composite in aesthetics.
Composite resin is a very brittle material and is prone to chipping and breaking which will require significant investment in both time and cost to maintain. Initially, the material can be polished up to a high shine, but very quickly it will become dull and matte in appearance which makes it stand out when next to your other teeth. The material is also prone to staining which contributes to its shorter lifespan, and can make it harder to care for - more need to avoid red wine and coffee!
Specific numbers in the scientific literature vary, but the average life expectancy before replacement for a composite resin veneer is around 4-5 years.
Porcelain has been used in dentistry for many years and was the original veneering material of choice due to its excellent aesthetic properties. It is superior to composite resin in both colour and optical properties, as well strength and stain resistance.
Due to the strength of porcelain, it can be used in very thin segments. This offers both a more realistic appearance as well as a significantly reduced likelihood of chipping or breaking over time.
Our eye gathers and processes a very complex mixture of light and colour properties which, when combined, gives the appearance of a natural tooth. Porcelain veneers offer a vastly superior mixture of these properties, and give your dentist more control in creating a natural final result.
The average life expectancy for porcelain veneers is 10-12 years, but with good home care and maintenance may be significantly longer.
4) Individual Requirements
Each patient has different requirements and the team at Sydney Smile Doctor will spend the time to understand your specific needs and will help to offer the best solutions for you.
If your chief concern is the aesthetics and durability of your teeth, then we usually recommend porcelain. However if cost is your primary concern, then composite may be better for you. Either way, the doctors at Sydney Smile Doctor will be able to tailor a beautiful smile for your needs.
What is the process for getting veneers, and how is it different for composite veneers vs porcelain veneers?
For both composite and porcelain veneers, you can expect to need at least two visits to your dentist.
Composite veneers can be quite time-consuming to the nature of hand crafting the material directly onto your teeth. However, in some cases this can be achieved in the same visit as your initial clean and consultation.
Porcelain Veneers require two appointments in the dental chair, initial tooth preparation followed by placement of the final porcelain veneer. Between these two appointments you will be sent home with a temporary temporary veneers, which aren't as strong or stain resistant, but you won't need them for long and they give you the opportunity to "try on" your new smile to ensure you're happy with them. As a final step, your dentist will cement your porcelain veneers in place.
You can read more about the process for getting veneers here.
Do composite and porcelain veneers damage my teeth?
Both porcelain veneers and composite veneers require the removal of front surface tooth structure to allow for it to be replaced with either porcelain or composite. The amount of tooth structure to be removed varies greatly by the aesthetic requirements. In some cases the underlying tooth allows for composite dental bonding which is a very thin layer of composite resin to make small shape adjustments without damaging the healthy tooth enamel.
At Sydney Smile Doctor, we know no two patients are the same. Our cosmetic dentists take the time to review your teeth in a complimentary consultation and will discuss the below factors with you to see what might be the best option in your particular situation.
If you think veneers might be right for you, contact Sydney Smile Doctor to make a complimentary, obligation-free appointment to discuss them with our cosmetic dentists by calling 1300 645 680 or click here.