DENTAL VENEERS EXPLAINED
Veneers enhance, improve or change the appearance of your teeth. They are generally made from 2 types of materials, porcelain and composite resin.
Porcelain veneers look the best, last the longest and are the most popular choice. The procedure usually requires some slight to moderate tooth and enamel preparation (drilling) to achieve the best possible contour and natural appearance of the veneers.
WHEN DO I NEED A VENEER?
A veneer covers the outside of your tooth which is the part that shows when you smile. They are used to visually improve your teeth and are suitable for:
- Darkened or discoloured for any reason
- Chipped or worn down
- Crooked, uneven, poorly positioned
- Widely spaced, with gaps between teeth
COST OF VENEERS
|PROCEDURE||COST||TREATMENT LENGTH||NUMBER OF VISITS|
|Veneers – custom-made, high quality porcelain||Single veneer – extra time and effort required to make one fake tooth blend in with surrounding teeth and restorations: $950|
4 or more: $700 each
6 or more: $680 each
8 or more: $650 each
|3-5 business days||1-3|
|Veneers – composite resin (filling material)||From $250 per tooth||1-3 business days||1-3|
TREATMENT PROCESS OF DENTAL VENEERS
The procedure requires three phases but you only require 2 appointments:
- Preparing (drilling) the tooth in an appropriate fashion to make enough room for the porcelain veneers.
- Making impressions (using a digital scanner or impression material) of the prepared teeth, opposing teeth, and the occlusal (bite) relationships.
- Selecting a shade for the new teeth.
- Fabricating a temporary or provisional restoration that will remain in place while the veneers are being constructed.
- Fabricate and polish the veneers
- Remove the temporary or provisional veneers
- Carefully bond the veneers onto the teeth – the advances in dental porcelain and chemical bonding with tooth structure creates the tightest possible relationship between porcelain and tooth
- Check the occlusal relationships.
LONGEVITY OF VENEERS
Porcelain veneers last on average 7-10 years however this can be extended for a very long time with good oral hygiene (especially daily flossing), controlling para-functional habits (such as nocturnal grinding or holding items with your teeth) and regular dental visits. Anything that will break your natural teeth can break the porcelain veneers, for example, hard lollies, corn on the cob and ice cubes. Porcelain veneers cannot be repaired easily if they’re damaged or if the gum shrinks away from the top edge, so very good oral hygiene is required to keep them looking good.
Composite resin veneers are made of the tooth-coloured filling materials. They are placed by the dentist in one visit and require minimal tooth preparation (drilling). Resin veneers are used in similar situations to porcelain veneers however they last only half as long before requiring repair or replacement. They look good but are not as natural-looking good as porcelain. While repairs to the resin veneers are not too difficult, they do stain, chip and discolour a lot more than porcelain veneers.
Composite Resin Vs Porcelain Veneers
There are a number of differences between composite resin and porcelain veneers. Learn more about how long they last, how to maintain them and more, and learn which dental veneer is best for you.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
There are as many differences as similarities between resin composite veneers and porcelain veneers.
Both types basically serve the same purpose and involve placing tooth-coloured material over the front surface of the tooth to improve its shape.
Both are used to deal with dull, discoloured, chipped, cracked, short or uneven teeth. If any one or more of these are affecting you, your smile or your confidence, veneers are obviously the best and most common solution.
The differences are due to the quality, stability and longevity of the two different materials, and whether they are applied directly, or indirectly.
BUT WHICH SHOULD I CHOOSE?
The main deciding factor really comes down to cost. It’s been said that composite resins are the ‘tupperware’ to porcelain veneers ‘fine china’.
Nobody disputes that porcelain is preferable to composite so if they did cost the same, pretty much everybody would choose porcelain. But they don’t cost the same and that’s why composite resin exists as an alternative option.
However, if you plan to have a smile you’re proud of for many years to come, porcelain is definitely a good investment.
WHAT’S THE LIFESPAN OF VENEERS?
Veneers of composite material are, of course, cheaper than porcelain, but porcelain can last up to 10 years, and longer if properly looked after.
Composite resin veneers will likely only last 3 – 5 years. They are less durable and may be in need of replacement more often depending on many factors including chipping and staining.
So what are veneers made of?
Composite Veneers are made of engineered resin or plastic, they are more porous than real teeth or porcelain, and they absorb water. Because of this, they need to be polished exceedingly well to look natural.
Porcelain veneers are made of, you guessed it, porcelain! They don’t stain easily because porcelain lacks porosity once it’s glazed (as all porcelain veneers are). They are incredibly resistant to chipping and staining and reflect light like natural teeth so they match the surrounding teeth incredibly well. Porcelain veneers are much stronger and more durable than composite resin veneers.
HOW ARE VENEERS APPLIED AND HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
There are two ways to create and apply composite veneers: direct and indirect.
Direct composite veneers are applied in one appointment. White fillings are put, you guessed, directly onto the tooth. A blue light is used to cure the veneer and set it on place.
Indirect composite veneers will usually take two appointments, as first an impression needs to be taken so the veneers can be custom made in a lab. Once ready, you’ll need to return to the dentist to have them bonded in your second appointment.
Porcelain veneers are always done indirectly. In most cases, the teeth need to be prepared by slightly reducing them, which ensures the veneers will sit naturally when cemented to the outside surface of the teeth and not be prominent in the mouth.
Again, an accurate impression of the teeth will be taken on your first visit, then the porcelain veneers will be hand crafted in a lab. A second visit will fit them to check for colour match and shape, and if you’re happy, they will be bonded to complete the process.
ARE THERE ANY RISKS AND HOW SHOULD VENEERS BE MAINTAINED?
Composite veneers can wear under pressure, so if you are prone to grinding your teeth, you might want to protect them while you sleep. As they are also not as stain resistant as natural teeth or porcelain, avoiding drinks or food that can exacerbate staining as well as regular polishing is advised.
Also, take the time to find a dentist with a good reputation, gum problems such as bleeding can be a consequence of poorly fitting veneers, or those made of sub-par materials.
Porcelain veneers are much closer to natural teeth in substance, and are always ‘measured and fitted’ in such a way that will be moulded to fit your mouth, so are much less susceptible to the above concerns. Take care of them as you would your natural teeth and they’ll be with you for decades!