Porcelain and Composite Veneers

Smile Design

“A smile is a light in the window of the soul indicating that the heart is at home.” We smile because we’re happy, our eyes begin twinkling and positive emotion beams.

By changing the size, shape, colour and alignment of the teeth we can enhance someone’s appearance. It is like a ‘makeover’. This doesn’t mean you have to walk out of here with a Hollywood smile, but a smile which will bring back your confidence.

Your dentist will discuss your needs with you and plan the treatment that suits you best.

One of the ways to enhance your smile, is by putting veneers on your teeth.

Q. What are veneers?

They are thin, tooth coloured shells carefully constructed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve their appearance. These shells are fabricated directly onto the tooth or bonded onto the tooth to the front of the teeth changing their colour, shape, size, or length. Veneers are excellent for treating chipped, discoloured, slightly misaligned or defective teeth, especially in the front of your mouth.

There are different types of veneers, most commonly porcelain (indirect) or composite (direct).

Porcelain Veneers

Porcelain veneers are made indirectly which means they are fabricated outside of the mouth. The tooth is ‘prepped’ in the dental chair then the impressions of that preparation is sent to a dental technician who manufactures the veneer. Once the veneer returns, usually two to three weeks later, it is cemented on. The porcelain and the cement used in the cementing process are strong, making veneers comparable in strength to normal teeth. The colour can also be altered by using varying shades of cement, so it is important that you discuss any changes you require before the final cementing is done. Once the veneer is bonded to the teeth, the colour cannot be changed. After the veneer has been cemented, it is trimmed and polished.

The process from preparation to cementation generally takes two to three visits.

Composite Veneers

Direct composite veneers are useful for improving small irregularities but is less successful than porcelain veneers in the treatment of some problems. “Direct’’ means they are done directly in one visit in the chair.

The surface of tooth to be modified is prepared by etching. It is then painted with a bonding agent. A putty like resin is moulded onto the tooth and shaped, a special light is used to set it. Finally, the set resin is trimmed and polished.

Q. What are the advantages of porcelain veneers?

  • Application is relatively painless
  • They are a more conservative treatment than a crown and can often be used as an alternative if the underlying tooth is strong and healthy
  • Porcelain veneers are stain resistant due to factors like age, tea, coffee or smoking
  • When applied professionally and cared for regularly, veneers can last for many years
  • They provide a natural tooth appearance
  • Gum tissue tolerates porcelain well
  • The colour of a porcelain veneer can be selected such that it makes dark teeth appear whiter

Q. What are the advantages of composite veneers?

  • Composite veneers are often a satisfactory alternative for small blemishes
  • If the tooth underneath is strong enough, direct composite veneers can be a simpler and cheaper alternative to porcelain veneers and crowns (in selected cases)
  • Not much tooth preparation is required
  • Only one visit to the dentist is usually needed
  • An excellent colour match can usually be made
  • Can be used as a conservative, temporary measure if a more permanent treatment requiring tooth preparation is planned for a later stage
  • Easy to repair in the mouth
  • They do not require impressions or laboratory manufacturing
  • They can sometimes be removed without damage being done to a tooth. This can enable further treatment options if the person’s expectations are not met

Q. What are the disadvantages of porcelain veneers?

  • A small amount of tooth must be removed during preparation
  • Veneers are not always a replacement for corrective dental procedures like orthodontics in people with overcrowded or badly misaligned teeth, or upper and lower teeth that do not meet evenly
  • The process is not reversible
  • They are more costly than a composite veneer
  • Veneers are usually not repairable should they chip or crack or if the gum shrinks away
  • Because enamel has been removed, your tooth may become more sensitive to hot and cold foods and beverages especially between appointments
  • Veneers may not always exactly match the colour of your other teeth. Also, the veneer’s colour cannot be altered once in place. If you plan on whitening your teeth, you need to do so before getting veneers
  • Individuals who clench and grind their teeth are poor candidates for porcelain veneers, as these activities can cause the veneers to crack or chip.

Q. What are the disadvantages of composite veneers?

  • It is not as strong as a porcelain veneer and is more prone to chipping and breaking but is easily repaired
  • Some commercially available toothpastes and toothbrushes are too harsh on composite veneers
  • Stresses on composite veneers such as biting into hard foods may lead to breakages.
  • Alcohol or any food or beverages like red wine, coffee etc that stain may cause deterioration of the resin hence the composite veneers may need regular touch-up work in some cases
  • They require more maintenance than porcelain veneers
  • Caring for your veneers will ensure that they last longer. Regular check-ups with your dentist who fitted them, or one who is experienced in the care of veneers is recommended.

Q. How do you care for your veneers?

  • Though not likely, veneers can dislodge and fall off or break. To minimize the chance of this occurring, do not bite your nails; chew on pencils, ice, or other hard objects like hard lollies; or otherwise put excessive pressure on your teeth.
  • Just like normal teeth veneers can fracture if they are struck by sharp objects. So it is very important to wear a mouthguard for protection during sport
  • Good dental hygiene is important to extend the life of the veneers. Regular brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing after meals will help prevent decay
  • If you have composite veneers its best to avoid excessive amounts of food and beverages that cause teeth to stain
  • Note: The aim of this general information is to educate the reader about Veneers and may not essentially contain all aspects of the treatment. It would be beneficial to see us for a consultation to discuss the procedure and all of the associated complications.

Give us a call on (03) 5821 2388 to book an appointment and our dentist will be more than happy to answer all of your concerns.