What are dental veneers?
Dental veneers are custom-made shells applied to natural teeth for the dual purpose of adding strength and beauty. They can provide protection to teeth that have been chipped, broken or treated with root canal therapy. They also offer an opportunity to cosmetically lengthen, widen, straighten and of course whiten the underlying teeth.
There are two different types: composite and porcelain. The key difference between these is the material used. The former are made from composite resin, a white filling material; the latter from porcelain, which is a hardened translucent ceramic.
The advantages of composite veneers are they require very little preparation of the underlying natural teeth, provide immediate results in a single treatment session and are approximately half the price of their porcelain counterparts. Porcelain, on the other hand, is stronger and longer lasting than composite resin, requires less maintenance and offers superior aesthetics — generally it will blend seamlessly with the surrounding natural teeth.
Composite veneers explained
The treatment process for composite veneers is as follows.
- If necessary, the underlying tooth is prepared so the veneer will adhere.
- White filling material is applied in layers and cured (hardened with a “Bluephase” LED light).
- This process is repeated until the desired length, width and shade are achieved, all in a single treatment session.
Composite veneers are a “conservative” treatment – very little of the underlying natural tooth is sacrificed in the treatment process. Furthermore, the composite material can actually be removed later in life, and replaced with porcelain if desired, whereas the reverse is not possible. Composite veneers provide immediate results and are generally half the cost of porcelain.
Because composite is not as strong as porcelain, signs of wear and discolouration may begin to show sooner. We recommend ongoing maintenance, every six months or so, for polishing, checking and restoring the margins in the event of wear.
In practice, composite veneers lend themselves to fixing more subtle problems such as minor chips or discolouration, or for mild correction of alignment. Because they are so conservative, composite veneers are often recommended for younger people, leaving them with the option of porcelain veneers later in life.
Porcelain veneers explained
The treatment process for porcelain veneers requires two visits. In the first session:
- The underlying teeth are prepared by shaving back a very thin layer, thus creating a suitable surface for the porcelain to adhere to.
- Impressions are taken. At Core Dental we send these to a quality Melbourne laboratory, where your veneers are created by hand.
- Your dentist prepares and fixes temporary veneers.
At your second visit about two weeks later, your temporary veneers are removed. Your dentist will try your new porcelain veneers in place to check that you are happy with the results. The veneers are then permanently secured in place.
Porcelain veneers require about 0.5 millimetres of the underlying tooth to be shaved back. This is more than for composite veneers but far less than for a crown.
Porcelain veneers are a more expensive treatment option than composite veneers.
Porcelain is a much stronger, longer lasting material than composite resin and thus requires less ongoing maintenance; teeth with veneers should simply be cared for in much the same way as other teeth.
With porcelain, it’s possible to achieve an opacity and a lustre that very closely resemble an untreated tooth, which makes for beautiful, natural-looking outcomes.
Because porcelain veneers enable adjustments to length, width, alignment and shade of the treated tooth, this option is generally recommended when significant cosmetic changes are desired or when extra strength is required.