A lot of people choose to improve the aesthetics of their teeth with dental veneers but few are aware of the materials involved in the veneer fabrication process and how much they can influence the natural appearance and strength of the final product.
The most commonly used materials are composite and porcelain. These two have several differences in the preparation and durability compartment, but stain resistance and cost should not be overlooked either.
All these have to be factored in when you are weighing your personal considerations about the treatment.
Key Takeaways for Composite and Porcelain Veneers
- Porcelain is a much stronger material than composite
- Composite veneers are more affordable but less sturdy
- Composite veneers can be done in a single appointment while with veneers the procedure is more complex
- Porcelain veneers are stain-resistant, tooth-like aesthetics that can hide imperfections more readily than composite
- Some dental issues cannot be repaired with composite veneers, making porcelain the best and only option
- You will need a thorough oral health evaluation before you get started with your smile makeover
To give you a better idea of each procedure, take a look at the upsides and downsides of composite and porcelain veneers.
Similarities Between Porcelain Veneer Procedure and Composite Veneers
Before we get started, you should be familiar with the main similarities between the two materials, so you can easily point out the differences after that. What do we know so far?
- Dental veneers are thin shells with translucent quality that can cover one tooth or several teeth alike
- They adhere to the teeth with bonding cement
- The ideal candidate is someone with good oral health who has cracks or stains on their front teeth
- All patients should undergo an initial consultation coupled with examination prior to the procedure; this is to make sure there is no tooth decay or gum disease on the existing teeth
- Cosmetic dentistry offers direct and indirect composite veneers
- Veneers may not work if you have a broken tooth; in that case, dental bonding will be more appropriate - check out our article on veneers vs bonding for more information.
- Proper care is needed for both the veneers and the surrounding teeth
Pros of Composite Veneers
Now, let's review the pros of composite veneers.
One of the biggest advantages of composite resin veneers over their porcelain counterpart is their cost. Without question, they are the cheapest option.
They start from $170 and upward per tooth. By contrast, porcelain veneers run a minimum of $720 per tooth and can climb up to $2,000 per tooth.
Another advantage worth mentioning is reversibility. Unlike porcelain, composite veneers can be reversed. They are not permanently bonded to your natural teeth in such a way that they cannot be removed.
Minimal prep work is required with direct composite veneers, meaning the enamel is barely touched. In some cases, there may be no enamel removal at all, only roughening of the surface with an acidic gel.
The third advantage of composite veneers is they can be fitted in one appointment. This is because the products are usually made while you sit and wait. They are moulded into the desired shape straight into your mouth rather than in a dental laboratory.
This is especially true for direct composite veneers that offer same-day treatment (as opposed to indirect composite veneers which are fabricated in the dentist’s office or a lab).
What are the Cons of Composite Veneers?
You are probably wondering, with so many advantages, is there something that could make you stay away from composite veneers?
The truth is, even though they look just as good as porcelain veneers, they are not as durable. Over time, they will begin to chip.
The lifespan of composite material is about 5-10 years. Even though you could add more to the tooth structure to restore it, you will still need to make an appointment with a cosmetic dentist and pay for the procedure out-of-pocket.
Prone to stains
Another notable disadvantage is that composite tends to be more porous, which means it’s more susceptible to staining. If you use dental veneers to hide stains and discoloration on your teeth, the last thing you’ll want is for your appliances to get tinted.
So, even if your veneers withstand 10 years of use, they may not look as good as new by that time.
This will probably require you to follow a specific diet during your composite veneers treatment plan that doesn’t involve certain stain-causing foods.
Pros of Porcelain Veneers
And just like that, let's check out the pros of porcelain veneers.
One advantage of porcelain is its resemblance with the natural tooth enamel, which makes it the most natural-looking alternative. It’s shiny and translucent, plus it’s strong and durable. The material is not porous; in fact, it's highly resistant to stains.
Without a doubt, porcelain is the sturdiest material available for dental veneers to this day. Well-maintained porcelain veneers can withstand up to 20 years of use and more. This makes it a viable treatment solution.
Better at treating certain dental problems
Not to mention, some serious dental issues cannot be camouflaged with composite resin veneers. Porcelain is more successful at repairing chips and addressing crooked teeth, genetic defects, wear and tear, uneven teeth, misshapen teeth, worn enamel, significant discolouration, and spacing issues.
Check out our post comparing veneers and braces for misaligned teeth for more information.
Cons of Porcelain Veneers
Arguably the greatest disadvantage of porcelain veneers is that they are made outside of the mouth, preferably in a lab. A thin layer of the enamel will be removed and the dentist will make impressions of the mouth that will be used to fabricate the veneers.
What it means is that for the time being the patient needs to wear temporary veneers. This can be a major inconvenience if you are looking for a swift treatment.
Another huge disadvantage is that the enamel has to be thinned out and the process is not reversible, unlike with composite veneers.
Once you put porcelain veneers on, you can never be without them. You should take this into consideration when you are deciding on a porcelain veneer solution.
Which is Better: Porcelain or Composite Veneers?
The discussion of composite veneers vs porcelain veneers is a never-ending process. Many experts will give you different answers because, at the end of the day, the treatment you go with depends on your specific goals.
In truth, both porcelain and composite veneers offer fantastic smile enhancement. Instead of focusing on the upsides, consider their disadvantages as your guide when making a decision.
Of course, you should also discuss your goals with an experienced cosmetic dentist. If you don’t know what to do, a professional will give you a competent answer.
Porcelain veneers are the best option since they resemble the colour and structure of your natural teeth and look anything but fake. If durability is important to you, you should consider this option.
But if you are in a hurry or on a tight budget, porcelain veneers will not be the most desired treatment since the procedure is more involved and takes a couple of appointments. Plus, it’s costly and MediSave doesn’t reimburse the payments.