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Dental veneers: Pros and cons of porcelain and composite veneers

With the development of dentistry, there are more and more options for procedures to make the smile attractive. One of them, the dental veneers, has become increasingly popular, especially among the famous. The technique is capable of providing major improvements in the shape and color of teeth in a short time. Veneers are an important tool for the cosmetic dentistry, the dentist is able to use one Veneer to restore a single tooth that has been fractured, discolored,or multiple teeth to create a “Hollywood” type of makeover. Veneers are ultrathin shells of Ceramic (Porcelain) or Composite Resin material which is bonded to the front teeth.

When are veneers used or why would I want them?


When are veneers used or why would I want them

Veneers are one of the most effective cosmetic dentistry treatments, when it comes to improving the look of your smile, as it is a solution that offers quite a bit of flexibility.

Where a cosmetic whitening process can only adjust the tooth colour, veneers can change the tooth colour, look, shape and size, essentially offering an all in one solution for those who want to alter their smile. When veneers have been placed they can help make your teeth appear straighter from the front.

Some of the reasons you might decide on veneers are because they:

Change tooth colour

Change tooth colour

Whilst cosmetic tooth whitening may well work for some, it is not the solution for all.

Tooth whitening makes your teeth whiter in colour, but will not change the appearance of fillings – white or metal.  And depending on the treatment approaches selected, tooth whitening may reverse or not last for all that long.  This is particularly the case if your diet and lifestyle contain choices that are known to stain the teeth; smoking, tea, coffee and red wine being just a few examples.

Exposure to certain medical treatments and antibiotics is known to cause tooth discolouration.  Sometimes this discolouration cannot be fully removed, even with whitening treatments.

Sensitivity in the teeth may mean that traditional whitening techniques are not suitable for you. With the right veneers, you can achieve a brighter and whiter smile.

Improve alignment

Improve alignment

Wonky, crooked, angled, however you consider the teeth in your smile to be positioned, you may think that braces are the necessary solution.

For both children and even young adults, braces are a good long term option to change the position of your teeth.  Thanks to advances it may not even need to be an all metal brace as you might have thought.  There are even invisible looking braces available today.

Braces can be expensive and take a long time to work though.  They also require a lifetime of wearing retainers to avoid the teeth moving again.

Instead, veneers can be used to make your smile appear more aligned, without physically moving the teeth.  The dental veneers are moulded and positioned in the front of the tooth in such a way that post fitting you would never know that behind the veneer sits an angled or wonky tooth.

Close small gaps between teeth

As veneers are shaped to your teeth, mouth and personal desires, if small gaps exist between teeth, the veneers can be designed and fitted in such a way that the gap is no longer present once fitted. The veneer can essentially act as a filling for a gap in your teeth.  This may do away with the need for and orthodontic work, such as wearing braces which is a common option for closing a gap.

Change the tooth shape

Veneers are shaped to your requirements.  This means that if you have naturally short teeth but want longer teeth, then veneers give this exact option.  The veneers can be shaped in such a way that the tooth has more curvature, length or a more fanged look to it if you desire.

Repair chipped and damaged teeth

Life and the ageing process our bodies go through make the teeth susceptible to wear and damage.

If a tooth has been chipped, whilst it remains functional, it may affect your smile and your confidence to smile. You may have had a number of fillings to repair the tooth, but they keep coming out.

Veneers can be used to repair the chipped tooth and give the look almost identical to that of the tooth prior to being chipped.

Improve worn teeth

Over time the natural tooth enamel can become worn through brushing too hard, or a high acid intake.

This wear may cause you to have a “hole” in your tooth, or to flatten the appearance of the tooth. It may also reveal the dentine layer which is more yellow in appearance and can even cause sensitivity.

Veneers are a great way of covering up this wear whilst helping retain the natural tooth too.

Improve the damage done by bruxism

Bruxism is a condition whereby the teeth are worn by the grinding of upper and lower teeth.

Over time, the condition affects the way teeth look whilst often inducing extra sensitivity because the protective enamel layer is damaged and the underlying dentine layer is exposed.

Veneers restore the natural look of worn teeth.  Veneers also protects the enamel by acting as a barrier and reducing the sensitivity that might have once been felt.

Less intrusive option

Compared to crowns or braces, the use of veneers is a less intrusive option.

This is because the veneer materials can be used in a really thin section, unlike traditional crown materials. Because veneers are often placed only on the front teeth, and on those teeth only of the front and biting surface, only those surfaces need any preparation. In some cases, the teeth may not need any drilling at all.

Candidates


Like many dental and cosmetic treatments, there are circumstances that might mean that you are not an ideal candidate for particular treatments and veneers do need certain conditions to be met before they can be offered.

There is some variance in these requirements based on the types of veneers you may well be looking at, but as a general rule you must have:

  • Specific goals that can only be achieved through cosmetic treatment.
  • Realistic expectations.
  • Good dental health with no signs of dental decay or gum disease.
  • Be committed to proper oral care and hygiene.
  • A sufficient layer of enamel on the tooth.

Types of Veneer


There are different types of veneer available, but the specialists believe that long-trusted porcelain veneers are the very best material to work with for this purpose.

Here are some of the different types of veneer you may find:

Composite Veneers

Composite Veneers

Composite resin veneers, also known simply as composite veneers, is a cheap veneer dental restoration that can be applied in one dentist visit. They are most usually made out of resin or plastic, can be easily repaired if broken and can last up to seven years. The process includes applying layers of composite to your tooth, for the layers to then be moulded to fit your desired shape and length. Once each layer is hardened via curing-light, the composite is polished. However delightful this form of veneer sounds, it is worth mentioning that they can also be quite easily chipped, broken or stained.

Advantages

  • Cheaper– Although more time is spent in the dentist’s chair whilst they are created, the material is more cost-effective and the whole process cheaper.
  • Speed– Can be made quickly, whilst you are in the dentist’s chair and does not require you to come back for a fitting appointment.
  • Enamel removal not necessary– If the intention is to make a tooth longer or repair a chip, it may not be necessary to have the external layer of enamel removed.
  • Reversible– If the outer layer of enamel has not been removed, a composite veneer is removable and the whole process reversible.
  • Less sensitivity– As there is no removal of enamel, you are less likely to have sensitivity after the appointment.
  • Easy to adjust– The dentist has the materials available to them whenever you are there, so they can easily make additions or changes whenever you want.
  • Less damage to other teeth– The composite material is softer than porcelain. If you grind your teeth you will not wear through the teeth in the opposite arch (e.g. lower teeth if you veneer the upper teeth).

Disadvantages

  • Look– The final look or aesthetic appearance can be less convincing than porcelain.
  • Durability– Expect composite veneers to need replacing within about 5 years as the material starts to wear, chip away and stain.
  • Suitability– Work well for a chipped tooth or 2, but less ideal for larger smile makeovers.
  • Time– You may have to lie back in the chair for a long time whilst the dentist carefully applies the layers of composite and then polishes them at the end. In some “no prep” veneer options you will spend less time in the chair.

Porcelain Veneers

Porcelain Veneers

Porcelain veneers made of high-quality, hardened ceramic, these types of dental veneers really are the old favourites for everyone. Porcelain veneers have been around for decades, with older forms looking chunkier and acting as a form of teeth whitening. Nowadays, it does still act as a form of teeth whitening for people whose stained teeth do not react well to actual teeth whitening or bleaching procedures. The process consists of thin pieces of porcelain being applied to your teeth to reinstate their natural, white look. The procedure helps give strength to your teeth that mirror natural tooth enamel. Due to fantastic advances in cosmetic dentistry, the shaping, sculpting and colour treatments available for porcelain have improved to the point where they are impossible to discern from the real thing. As do your natural-born teeth, dental veneers usually wear down over time. They may last up to 20 years before needing replacement or repairs. However, life happens, and sometimes you may require cosmetic dental work much sooner, especially if you are not carefully taking care of the veneer teeth.

Advantages

  • Look and feel– Porcelain has the most natural look and feel of the materials available.
  • Durability– They can last 10-20 years and do not stain.
  • Strength– Less likely to break and can even give extra rigidity to teeth that may have slight damage, but do not require a crown.

Disadvantages

  • Cost– Most expensive option and usually double that of composite material option.
  • Enamel removal– Necessary to have enamel removed from the tooth surface for the veneers to be stuck to.
  • Veneers for life– Once you have porcelain veneers made this decision is something you have to stick with for the rest of your life.  You cannot go back to your natural teeth. Therefore you incur the costs that come with them too.
  • Wear opposite teeth– If you grind your teeth there is a risk that the very hard porcelain will wear through the teeth in the opposing arch.

Lumineer Veneers

Lumineer Veneers

Lumineer Veneers Created from a patented material known as Cerinate, Lumineers, also known as non-prep veneers, are extremely thin but strong veneers.

The procedure is painless, with no needles, no drilling and no requirements for anaesthesia, being completely in merely 2 visits. Having durability and high resistance to potentially last over 20 years, they are usually used to cover discolouration or spaces in your teeth, Lumineer veneers last as long as regular porcelain veneers, but the difference is that this procedure is reversible if the recipient eventually changes their mind. However delicate they may look, Lumineers are really very hard wearing in terms of material. Lumineers cost less than porcelain veneers you would expect.

Advantages

  • Look– The porcelain sheen and translucency gives a result that best mimics the natural teeth compared to composite.
  • No enamel removal– In most cases, the enamel on the natural surface of the tooth does not need to be removed for fitting.
  • Thinness– Lumineers are just 0.2mm thin (half that of traditional veneers) but are still made of medical-grade porcelain for a great look.
  • Longevity– Can last for up to 20 years.
  • Fully reversible– Because in most instances, no enamel was removed for fitting, they can be removed or changed at a later date if required.

Disadvantages

  • Cost– Despite being a newer and more technically advanced approach the costs are equivalent to or slightly higher than traditional porcelain veneers.

partial veneers, and full veneers


Partial veneers cover a small section of the tooth that suffered enamel defects. A partial veneer is excellent if you have one tooth or only a part of the teeth that you want to be covered.

Full Veneers involve more severe cases where a patient wants to cover all their teeth to get that “Hollywood Smile.” It’s also common in people who want to close a gap.

Speak with a professional dentist to determine which cosmetic dental procedure is best for you and your dental desires.

Recovery


Thankfully the fitting of veneers has little to no recovery time associated with it. In most instances, anaesthetic is not used, so this is not a consideration when it comes to recovery.  If you do have local anaesthetic you will feel numb for a little while after, but usually, within a few hours this subsides and the feeling is restored to the teeth, gums and mouth.

The veneers are firmly stuck on and are functional from the moment you leave, so biting into a big juicy apple as you leave the dental surgery is fine.

As part of the treatment, the gums will be pushed back slightly to give the best fit for veneers, so they may be a little sore and tender to the touch for a few days, but some may not notice this.

The discomfort of the gums having been pushed back rarely requires medication, but over the counter painkillers are certainly the best option should you wish for some relief.

Within a few days, the gums soon realign themselves and the tissue heals so you will feel normal again. As there is no cutting or drilling involved to fit the veneers, for most the overwhelming satisfaction of the veneers masks any slight discomfort you may have. Unless you have been required to have additional surgery, fitting veneers is not an excuse for a few days off work!

Taking care of your new smile


Although the veneers are artificial, they still require daily maintenance to keep them in the best condition:

They are ultimately attached to your natural tooth, and around your gums.  The tooth underneath is still susceptible to decay and your gums can succumb to gum disease, otherwise known as gingivitis.

So, whether it is porcelain or composite veneers, you should:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes
  • Floss once a day
  • Replace your toothbrush/brush head every 3 months
  • Get regular dental checkups

If you are a smoker, you really should try to stop as continuing to do so will stain the veneers.

Tea, coffee drinkers, try to limit the amount you consume or wash down with water to reduce the chances of staining occurring to the veneer, in particular, the composite.

Good oral hygiene is a must, even more so if you have invested in a lovely set of veneers.

How much are veneers?


Veneers do not come cheap, particularly if you are looking for a complete smile makeover.

Although at some point the price will come into play as you will likely have a budget, you need to consider more than price alone. As you might well expect, there are several factors that influence how much veneers cost.

The results you want, the material used, the dentist performing the procedure and the location of the dentist’s office can all influence the final price.

Those requiring veneers to alter the look of the smile will need more work from the dentist and technicians than those looking for a veneer that simply whitens the teeth.

The more desirable porcelain is normally at least 50% more expensive but can last 10-20 years compared to the 5 years of the composite.

A porcelain veneer is also less likely to stain. So, although composite is cheaper, when you consider the cost per veneer over their lifetime, the porcelain option usually wins out.

Of course, you have to opt for what you want and can afford at the time.  A composite might be a temporary option until you can afford porcelain, or you may choose to wait a little longer until you can afford the better porcelain.

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Dr. Tafreshi

is a Specialist in Cosmetic Dentistry

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