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Composite Veneers vs Porcelain – Which is Best?

Dental veneers have been used to protect teeth and improve the aesthetics of the front teeth since the 1920s. Two materials are commonly used today – composite resin and porcelain. But which is best? Which should you choose?

composite veneers vs porcelain which is best

Veneers are used to improve the appearance of your teeth and smile. They’re custom-made shells that are bonded to the front surface of your teeth to improve their cosmetic appearance. 

This cosmetic treatment mimics the size, shape and colour of your teeth, creating a very natural appearance. The correct shade of veneer can be chosen to match your other teeth. 

Veneers are a quick and effective solution to hide teeth that are

  • discoloured – by tea, coffee, red wine, cigarettes, tetracycline, fluorosis, amelogenesis imperfect or age 
  • chipped, fractured or worn 
  • crooked 

They can also be used to cover gaps in teeth where orthodontic treatment may not be suitable.

Traditionally, since the 1980s veneers have been from porcelain. They’re the traditional flagship of cosmetic dentistry – handmade in a lab, require several dental appointments and have a price tag to match. 

Composite veneers are a newer more cost-effective method and can be skillfully sculpted and bonded to your teeth by our team in just one appointment. 

But which is the best choice for your smile?  We take a look at both materials below and then compare them so you can determine which is the best option for you and your budget. 

What Are Composite Veneers?

Composite veneers, also known as same-day or immediate veneers are made from tooth-coloured composite resin. It’s the same material that many non-NHS dentists use to fill cavities (holes) in the back teeth or composite bonding to straighten the bottom edge of a chipped tooth.  When used as a veneer it is wrapped around the bottom edge and over the front of the teeth. 

If you have severe dental issues that need hiding these may not be a suitable option. 

Procedure

Minimal preparation is required to apply composite veneers. Adhesive glue is applied to your tooth to help the resin stick. The resin is then applied directly to your tooth, sculpted, shaped and polished to a high shine. 

What Are Porcelain Veneers

These veneers are very thin pieces of porcelain (as the name suggests) shaped to fit over the front side of your tooth. They are essentially tooth-shaped ‘covers’ made in a lab that go over the entire front surface of the teeth. 

Procedure

After an initial consultation to determine your desired improvements the following steps will be taken.

  • The cosmetic dentist may or may not file a small amount of enamel from the fronts and sides of your existing teeth. 
  • Impressions or scans will be made of your teeth and sent to the lab.
  • Temporary veneers will be fitted to your teeth
  • When ready the veneers will be glued to your teeth in the same way as composite veneers. 

Composite vs Porcelain Veneers

A comparison of the two options. 

Treatment Time

Composite veneers can usually be fitted in a single visit so you can walk out with a new smile within the day. As porcelain veneers need to be sent away to the lab to be made they can take 2 or 3 appointments to be fitted. 

Durability

Porcelain is extremely durable once bonded. However, they can be chipped due to problems with your bite. If damaged it cannot be mended and needs to be replaced. 

It’s a rare occurrence but porcelain veneers can sometimes pop off. However, it is easily fixed by glueing it back on.

Composite veneers are more prone to chipping and as the material is softer than porcelain it can be easily scratched. Any chips are easily repaired. They don’t need to be replaced. 

Aesthetics

Porcelain is translucent so catches the light in a way very similar to the way a natural tooth does. An incredible benefit of porcelain veneers is their stain resistance. They do not require whitening treatments. 

Composite veneers are polished when fitted. This shine becomes dulled by things like toothpaste which is naturally abrasive. The shiny fades within a month but after this composite veneers stay quite stable.  

The other problem with composite is that it stains just like natural teeth. Over time they absorb moisture and which causes colour changes and staining. They are easily replaced and whitened. 

Composite veneers look great when you use a knowledgeable and skilled dentist who has done many cosmetic cases. If you looked closely you’d be able to tell the difference however from a distance no one can tell. Not many people, other than your dentist will get that close.

How Long Do They Last

Depending on your habits, staining and how much resin was used on each tooth, composite veneers can last around 5 to 7 years. They can be stripped and replaced. 

Porcelain is a harder material it’s more durable. It’s scratch resistant and looks amazing for 10-20 years. If you want better and longer lasting consider porcelain. 

Can You Remove Them?

Yes and no. Neither procedures are fully reversible even if a tooth isn’t prepared underneath. If you place veneers you’re committing to further dental treatment in the future.

Cost

The initial cost of porcelain veneers is more than composite veneers. Lab costs, resources and multiple dental appointments increase the treatment. 

If you chip a veneer, composite ones can be repaired easily but porcelain would need to be replaced. Multiple appointments are needed and further lab costs. 

Composites may need polishing or whitening over time and need replacing sooner than porcelain. 

If you break down the costs of maintaining and replacing composites, the cost over time may even out. 

Bear in mind that porcelain needs very little maintenance compared with composite. Although there is a higher up front fee, over the course of replacing and polishing composites it may well be that porcelain works out less.

Versatility

Porcelain veneers can be used for almost all cosmetic concerns — even the most severe discolouration or spacing issues when composite resin might not work.

In Summary of Composite Veneers vs Porcelain

Porcelain veneers are durable, give you a Hollywood or natural smile for 15 years and can be used to treat almost any cosmetic issue. But they come with a big price tag and it takes longer to achieve your dream smile.  

Composite veneers are a minimally invasive procedure that can restore your smile in a single day. However, they have a shorter lifespan and are more susceptible to staining and chipped but are repaired with ease. 

The best one for you may depend on a number of factors including your budget and the correct treatment for your unique smile. 

Book an appointment today and have a chat with our friendly and skilled cosmetic dentists and determine if composite veneers are suitable for you.