Porcelain Veneers v. Composite Veneers

Dentist Office in Raytown and Pleasant Hill, Missouri

Raytown Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Robert Davis

     Veneers are thin layers of tooth colored material designed to enhance the esthetic qualities of the smile.  Composite veneers can be applied in one visit.  The visit consists of applying tooth colored resin filling material to the front surface of the tooth and polishing it to a life-like appearance. Porcelain veneers are top grade porcelain or zirconia manufactuered by a dental laboratory specializing in cosmetic dentistry.  Usually a small amount of tooth structure must be removed for porcelain veneers, and the procedure commonly requires 2-3 appointments.  With composite veneers tooth structure may or may not need to be removed. 

In general porcelain veneers are more durable and will last longer than composite veneers.  However, composite veneers are often considerably lower in cost, and considered less invasive usually.  The use of dental veneers has been referred to as “instant orthodontics” because they can change the shape of the front teeth, in addition to changing the color. Veneers can be used to correct unsightly or stained fillings or teeth, chipped or broken teeth, poorly shapen or crooked teeth, and spaces in between the teeth called "diastemas."  

      Porcelain veneers are superior to composite resin veneers in several ways: Although porcelain veneers are quite thin, typically 0.5 – 0.7 mm, once they become bonded to your tooth structure they become extraordinarily strong. Porcelain veneers usually remain for many years, at least 10-15 years, assuming good oral hygiene, the use of a night guard (if recommended), and the avoidance of bad habits like crunching ice.  The visible result of porcelain veneers is usually stunning and often life changing. I'm not sure how many times patients have cried when we give them a mirror to look at their new smile, but it happens frequently. Well done veneers bring about a life-like appearance showing a natural tooth appearance. It is important to be realistic with the shade because if it is too white, the teeth can look artificial.  There are many factors which are considered when choosing a tooth shade and usually we can test the shade using temporary veneers to allow the patient to evaluate the shade over a period of several weeks.  Translucent qualities of high grade porcelain allows the veneers to duplicate the light handling characteristics of enamel giving it a sense of 3 dimensions which is difficult to mimic with other cosmetic bonding materials such as composite resin. Porcelain veneers rarely if ever stain if properly cared for.

    There are, however, several advantages of composite veneers over porcelain veneers. Typically, composite resin veneers can be started and finished in one visit to the dentist, they usually do not require removing as much tooth structure as do porcelain veneers, and they are less expensive. Dental veneers are not appropriate for everyone or every tooth. Case selection is an extremely important factor in the success of this technique. Veneering teeth is not a reversible procedure if tooth structure must be removed to achieve your optimum outcome.  Only an examination by a dentist specifically trained and experienced in esthetic procedures can determine whether dental veneers are appropriate for creating the smile you want. 



Robert M. Davis, DDS, FICOI