Composite Veneers vs. Porcelain: The Dental Veneers Guide

Last updated on August 21st, 2019

Dental veneers are a fast and effective solution for anyone who has a cosmetic dental issue they want to address. They can be used to treat everything from chips and cracks to gaps and misaligned teeth.

Dental veneers are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve your appearance.

Many patients feel that restorative and cosmetic dental work will take a fair bit of time to complete.

This is where composite veneers absolutely stand out:

With composite resin veneers, you can treat your whole mouth in just one trip to the dentists.

Read below to find out more about how resin veneers can help transform your smile.

What Are Dental Veneers?

composite venner look-minYou can think of a dental veneer as like a fake nail for a tooth. A dental veneer is a thin prosthetic appliance that goes over a tooth to restore or cosmetically enhance it.

Dental veneers can be made out of either composite resin or porcelain. They can be directly or indirectly bonded to the teeth.

What Do Dental Veneers Treat?

Dental veneers are used for just about any cosmetic dental problem you can think of. If you can think of a cosmetic dental problem, chances are veneers can fix it.

  • Chipped and cracked teeth. Veneers will hide the damage and make the tooth look as good as new.
  • Gaps between teeth. Dental veneers can be used to “fill out” teeth to hide any gaps between your natural teeth.
  • Crooked and misaligned teeth. Dental veneers can build up a tooth surface to hide a slightly crooked tooth. This makes all the teeth look like they’re neatly aligned.
  • Worn down teeth. Our teeth get worn down over time through constant use. Dental veneers can restore the base of your teeth to a fuller, healthier appearance.
  • Teeth whitening. You can even use dental veneers as a teeth whitening method if your teeth are too sensitive or too stained for conventional whitening procedures.

What Are Composite Veneers?

Composite resin is a tooth-colored material that’s used in a variety of dental applications. These include dental crowns and fillings, and of course, veneers.

composite veneer picture

Composite resin or composite plastic is a fairly fast-setting material, making it ideal for patients who don’t have a lot of time on their hands.

The terms “composite resin veneer” and simply “composite veneer” are interchangeable, as they both refer to the same type of veneer.

What Are Porcelain Veneers?

Porcelain veneers are made out of thin shells of porcelain. Porcelain is a type of ceramic that is ideal for tooth restorations.

You might even recognize it as the material used to make most toilets. Porcelain is ideal for two reasons: firstly, it has much the same look and texture as tooth enamel, particularly when it’s been glazed.

READ MORE: Cosmetic Dentures – 5 Things You Should Know About

So it doesn’t look out of place in your mouth. Secondly, it’s a very durable material that is very difficult to damage, so it’s not likely to chip or crack in your mouth.

Composite Veneers vs Porcelain Veneers

porcelain vs composite veneers

Composite resin veneers, either direct or indirect, and porcelain veneers, all treat the same problems. Any case that can be treated by one can be treated by any of the others.

In this regard, there’s no difference between the two.

However, there are significant differences in the speed, quality, longevity, and price between composite veneers and porcelain veneers.

What’s The Process Like For Composite Veneers?

There are two methods of applying veneers: direct and indirect.

Direct Composite Veneers Process

Direct veneers are made in-chair with the patient. The resin is applied directly to the teeth, where it’s shaped and set into place.

You only have a single appointment with the dentist. There’s no shaving down of teeth, no waiting for a lab. Everything is finished while you sit in the dentist’s chair.

Indirect Composite Veneers Process

Indirect veneers are done in a three-stage process.

  1. Stage one is your first appointment with your dentist. During this stage you will:
  • Have your teeth prepared. This involves drilling the teeth where necessary to make room for the veneer.
  • Have impressions made for the lab to use when making your veneers. These impressions can either use physical material or digital scans. The prepared teeth, opposing teeth, and bite of your mouth will all be recorded.
  • Select the shade for your teeth. This will be matched as closely as possible to your natural teeth. If you’re only having a few veneers in place and want a white, bright smile, it’s best to get teeth whitening done beforehand.
  • A temporary veneer will be used while you wait for the finished version.
  1. Stage Two takes place in the laboratory. The veneers are fabricated and polished to be sent back to your dentist.
  2. Stage Three involves:
  • Removing the temporary veneers.
  • Bonding the new veneers to your teeth.
  • Making sure your bite is unaffected by the new veneers.

Composite resin veneers can either be direct composite veneers or indirect composite veneers. Porcelain veneers can only ever be indirect.

Speed Of Treatment

This depends on the bonding method.

There’s no appreciable time difference when you get indirect bonded veneers. Both composite resin veneers and porcelain veneers will take about the same time to get back from the lab as each other.

Depending on the workload of the lab at the time, this may take 3-5 days. If you have many veneers being made at once, it can take longer still.

However, composite veneers have an ace in the hole:

Direct composite resin veneers.

These are done in a single sitting, with the veneers being placed and shaped directly on your teeth.

There’s simply no comparison. Direct composite veneers are the fastest possible option.

Quality and Longevity

Here the winner is equally clear:

Porcelain veneers.

Simply put, porcelain is a much more durable substance than composite resin.

Composite resin veneers can be expected to last for 1-3 years. Porcelain veneers will last considerably longer if properly cared for.

Porcelain is resistant to chips and cracks. Composite veneers can become damaged much more easily than porcelain. They will also wear down over time, while porcelain veneers can last decades if cared for like real teeth.

READ MORE: The 5 Best Mouth Guards for Teeth Grinding

Then there’s the issue of discoloration.

Composite resin is slightly porous, so it stains fairly easily. This can result in discolored veneers within a few months after application if you’re not careful.

Avoiding tea, coffee, and dark alcohols will help. Unfortunately it’s generally a matter of when, not if, the veneers start to stain.

Porcelain, on the other hand, gets glazed before application. This glazing takes away any porosity in the surface of the porcelain.

Because of this glazing process, porcelain resin veneers will stay pearly white for considerably longer.

Cost Difference of Composite Veneers vs Porcelain Veneers

This is the second area where composite veneers come out on top:

Composite veneers cost less than porcelain veneers. All things being equal, they can be less than a quarter of the cost of their porcelain counterparts.

Direct composite veneers are cheaper still than indirect composite veneers. With direct bonding there’s no need for the dentist to engage the services of a lab and its technicians.

This not only speeds the process up, but keeps the cost down.

So if you’re looking for a quick, effective fix, composite resin veneers are the fast and affordable way to reinvigorate your smile.

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