You may have already decided you would like veneers. Perhaps your teeth are damaged or discoloured and you have made your mind up veneers are the best solution to give you a good, healthy looking, attractive new smile. Problem solved….but there is just one more thing. You need to make a choice; the choice between porcelain or composite veneers. A difficult decision at the best of times made even worse if you can’t tell your ceramics from your resins. Let Alkali in Putney untangle the confusion, so you can make the best-informed choice and be well on the way to your new smile.
As you may already know, dental veneers are coloured tooth shells, custom-made to fit permanently over your natural teeth. They are as slim and delicate as a piece of sea shell but as strong as steel, once bonded to your teeth. Think of a fake fingernail and you will get the picture. Unlike the fake nail comparison, veneers are for life. They are a serious decision, not this week’s fashion, so you want to be sure you know your options.
Option 1. Porcelain:
Porcelain or ceramic veneers are made in our laboratory by highly skilled technicians who understand the process of making the new teeth involves choices made by the patient, the dentist and the artist; the choice of size, colour, shape and fit. Impressions are taken of your teeth and the resulting moulds are scanned into a computer. With the assistance of cad-cam technology, the technician produces a very accurate design framework for your new teeth. Each veneer is made individually by applying porcelain, in a liquid form, to a framework. Like creating a delicate part of a piece of Meissen china, the colour, the opacity and the chroma are selected and applied to the artist’s palette before the new veneer is made, by building layers, to your choice of natural white. There are many shades to choose from and this is a very delicate process. The veneers are then fired in an oven to make them hard and strong before they are shaped. Finally, they are glazed with a coloured tint and polished. Just as the enamel of natural teeth has many translucent layers and a sheen, a light reflective quality, when polished, so do your veneers. It takes the eye and skill of an artist to make the best veneers.
The porcelain veneers are then permanently fixed to your teeth by your dentist with a tinted cement giving yet another layer and depth to your natural, ‘new’ teeth. It is at this stage the colour can be cleverly adjusted to your choice. Some patients choose a very white ‘Hollywood’ smile while others prefer something as natural as their existing teeth.
Option 2. Composite:
Composite veneers are made in the dentist’s clinic. Layers of resin are applied to your teeth, individually, and carefully sculpted. Composite veneer treatment is an art and can look very natural and realistic but it involves the utmost attention to detail. Ask to see some of your dentist’s work to judge if he has the skills required of an artist. If it is applied correctly, no one should be able to tell you have had veneer treatment.
Impressions are taken and moulds are made to create the matrix for your veneers, to see the details of your teeth. You then select the shade from a shade guide. This is critical and your selection should be made under natural light. If the shade you choose matches the whiteness of your eyes it will look the most realistic. The composite or resin is applied to the front surface of your prepared teeth, layer by layer, and air dried. The dentist etches the teeth to create the right size and shape. A less than perfect biting edge looks the most natural. The layers of composite are blended to create a seamless transition. The teeth are finished by smoothing the front surface and edges to prevent staining and polished with a diamond polisher to create a lustre, a natural sheen.
Porcelain veneers vs. Composite resin veneers:
Both treatments involve full facings of teeth that, when properly done, can enhance the beauty of your smile. However, porcelain veneers yield a truer, more natural colour, a much longer lasting finish, do not fracture as readily, and are better aesthetically.
Once applied, porcelain veneers are very strong and durable; on average porcelain veneers can last for 12-25 years if proper care is taken and oral hygiene maintained. Although they are very thin, they resist chipping, especially after being glazed. Porcelain veneers are very natural looking and can appear as a close match to the actual tooth itself. This is due to the fact porcelain has a light-reflective ability which is similar to the quality of real tooth enamel. These veneers resist staining from smoking, wine tea and coffee, due to the properties of ceramic material they are made from.
The advantage of composite veneers is they can be made in the dental practice itself, which means you would not need to wait for several days to be made in the laboratory. However, they do require a lengthy appointment, as they need meticulous preparation and application. Unlike porcelain veneers they can be altered after being fixed.
Composite veneers are much less expensive than porcelain veneers but do not last as long. They generally last 4-8 years and require maintenance if they chip. If a composite veneer breaks, it can be easily repaired, unlike porcelain veneers which you would need to replace. However, they are so strong they rarely break.
When deciding which veneer to choose, you should weigh the positives and negatives of each option to see which material you can afford and adjust to the best. Once the procedure is complete, you will still need to take extra care. Regular dental check-ups and good oral hygiene can increase their longevity.
If you would like more help in deciding which veneer, porcelain or composite, call Alkali in Putney.