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Proper placement of dental veneers can greatly improve your smile and appearance. There are two types of veneers: porcelain and composite. When done correctly, both can give you a beautiful smile, but what are the differences between the two ? And how do you know which one is right for you?

Composite vs porcelain veneers

author icon By Dr. George Ghidrai

Dental veneers are thin layers of material (either porcelain or composite) custom made to fit over teeth and improve their color, shape and overall appearance.

porcelain veneers
porcelain veneer

Proper placement of dental veneers can greatly improve your smile and appearance. There are two types of veneers: porcelain and composite. When done correctly, both can give you a beautiful smile, but what are the differences between the two ? And how do you know which one is right for you ?

Are you a good candidate for dental veneers ?

Before choosing a certain type of veneer, you should first find out if dental veneers are the right solution for you. Veneers are not appropriate for everyone or every tooth; thus, case selection is a very important factor in the success of this technique.

When are veneers most often indicated ?

Veneers are very effective when it comes to:

When are dental veneers not a good option ?

In some situations, certain teeth or people are not good candidates for dental veneers. This may include:

Once you know that dental veneers can be a good option for you (these is usually done after a thorough Cosmetic Analysis), you must make a decision about porcelain versus composite veneers based on a number of factors (such as your time and budget, the type of work that is needed etc.). Let's take you true both types of veneers:

1. Composite veneers

Composite veneers are done in one visit and are sculpted at the time of placement. The composite resin is applied in layers to the tooth and modeled to the correct shape, length and form. Each layer is hardened using a curing-light.

When all composite is placed, veneers need to be polished extremely well before they are bonded to tooth structure.

Normally, a small amount of tooth structure has to be removed to allow for placement of composite resin in the desired shape without added tooth bulk. In most cases, composite veneers are more conservative of tooth structure as less amount has to be removed compared to porcelain veneers.

When are composite veneers most effective ?

Composite veneers are used in situations in which smaller changes have occurred:

Composite cannot fill in large spaces so many dental professionals will recommend not to use composite veneers when you have big spaces between the teeth, very short teeth you'd like to lengthen, or have broken a large part of the edge of a tooth off.

What to expect from your composite veneers

Modern composite materials can provide a life-like, beautiful appearance and can last for a reasonable amount of time (5 to 10 years). However, direct composite veneers involve extreme attention to detail as the final result depends entirely on the skill and artistry of the dentist.

Choosing the right dentist can be sometimes a challenging process; however, you should make sure you feel comfortable with the doctor before starting the procedure.

What are the advantages of composite veneers ?

What are the disadvantages of composite veneers ?

2. Porcelain veneers

Porcelain veneers are one of the most beautiful restorations available in cosmetic dentistry. Porcelain veneers are always manufactured in a dental lab after an impression of the prepared teeth is taken by the dentist.

Depending on the initial condition of the teeth, more or less of the teeth structure will have to be removed in order to accommodate the veneers. This is done by trimming the enamel from the front and biting edge of your teeth.

A porcelain veneer is usually about 0.5 to 0.7 millimeters in thickness. Once bonded to healthy tooth structure it becomes very strong.

porcelain veneers : tooth preparation

tooth preparation for porcelain veneer

porcelain veneers : prepared teeth

front teeth after the preparation

When are porcelain veneers indicated ?

Porcelain can fill in much larger spaces than composite; therefore, porcelain veneers can be used in any situation in which dental veneers are a viable treatment option.

What to expect from porcelain veneers

Porcelain veneers are very strong and durable, they rarely chip and are color stable. Lifespan is between 15 and 20 years if you take good care of them.

Another thing you should consider is going with a dentist who works with quality ceramics and a highly qualified technician; this gives you the best chances to achieve great esthetics.

What are the advantages of porcelain veneers ?

What are the disadvantages of porcelain veneers ?

Choosing between composite and porcelain veneers

Now you know a little about porcelain and composite veneers. So what is the best choice ? The answer is that your decision should be based on a number of factors.

Let us review some important points:

What care is required to maintain dental veneers ?

Regardless of the type of veneer (composite or porcelain), the care measures are required to improve their durability and longevity:

Last review and update: February 2019

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