What is the Difference Between Composite and Porcelain Veneers?

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Hi everyone today we are going to talk about composite veneers versus porcelain veneers. They’re both different types of veneers and there’s a big price difference between the two. Let’s talk about the pros and cons, which is better, and if applicable which one is the right choice for you.

Now if you’ve been thinking about improving your smile you probably see that a lot of celebrities have veneers and typically these are porcelain veneers then you start googling and asking your dentist and a lot of places offer composite veneers which are a fraction of the price and they look really good. So, you often see the before and after photos of a composite case versus a porcelain case and if you look closely you can definitely tell the difference but from afar it’s very difficult to really tell the difference so what is the difference and why is one better than the other. Now, for the sake of this article, I’m going to talk about porcelain veneers. It is something where your dentist would take a mold or a scan and send it off to a ceramist in a dental lab where they would make the veneers, and the veneers are then glued onto your teeth with the composite veneers.

Composite is the material that dentists have been using forever to do white fillings at the back of the mouth and it can be used to improve the look of the teeth at the front one treatment which is really popular which I used to do a lot of is composite edge bonding. It is essentially using this material blending it in with your natural tooth and just refining the bottom edge of the teeth. So, typically when people have had braces their teeth are worn in funny patterns, so the bottom edge of their teeth is uneven so when we straighten everything out we want the bottom edge of the teeth to look good. So, we add composite material just in little bits here and there just to improve that bottom edge of the smile – so that’s composite bonding.

The difference between this and a composite veneer is the veneer would wrap around the front surface of the tooth. So this is useful if you want to completely resurface the tooth and if you want to change the width of the tooth, change the appearance of the tooth in more dimensions than just adding to one edge in addition it can be used to improve the color of the teeth although if you really want to change the color you need to add the thickness of material whether it be composite or porcelain and in my experience porcelain tends to mask discoloration better than composite. With both composite veneers or porcelain veneers typically a little bit of tooth reduction is needed. With composite, you inevitably reduce a lot less tooth than you would with porcelain, so this is a big advantage. Another advantage for composite veneers is that if they chip they are quite easy to repair. It can be glued on you and also the composite veneers can typically be done in one treatment session so you don’t need to come back to have them fitted. So, again it’s another massive advantage including that there’s no cost of a dental laboratory making the veneers, so that cost is passed down to the patients which is one reason that they’re cheaper and also because it’s all done in one go. They’re quick to do as well so that’s another reason that composition are cheaper than porcelain veneers.

Now if these are big advantages why wouldn’t everyone always do composite veneers? The truth is that they look good on the day but in my experience and in my hands they do lose their shine very quickly. You see, composite is a softer material and although I’m able to polish it and make it look really glossy like a natural tooth, as soon as you go home and you start using your toothbrush your electric toothbrush with your favorite toothpaste which is designed to be mildly abrasive to get rid of staining on your teeth. What this does is reduces the shine of the the composite. Most people don’t really notice this and it’s not a big deal. It happens typically within the first month or two and after that initial shine is has been reduced. They stay quite stable after that but with porcelain that’s not going to happen whereas if you imagine a porcelain veneer, it is made of something similar to glass which is better in terms of scratch resistance. Also porcelain restorations have this glaze which is very hard wearing, so when I see patients who have had porcelain veneers 5, 10 or 15 years down the line their teeth still look amazing. They’ve still got this really great shine to them, whereas the composite veneer ones look okay and really it’s a dentist who’s gonna know but if you are looking for something that is better and long-lasting I would say go with porcelain because of its wear properties.

I hope you found this article useful and if you’ve got any questions or comments you can leave them below.

Want to learn more about how to take care of your porcelain veneers? Find here