Composite Veneers or Porcelain Veneers — Which is Better? Dr. Jay Hustead Explains

 A common problem among dental patients is discolored or broken teeth. While these problems do not always pose a risk upon the integrity of one’s mouth or jaw, an awkward smile is often something that many prefer to address with a process known as applying veneers.

 

 Thankfully, cosmetic treatment with veneers is noninvasive (unlike dental implants) and can address a host of cosmetic issues. Veneers are porcelain (or composite) encasings that fit snugly around a tooth. In addition to treating broken, chipped, or discolored teeth, veneers can fix gaps in a patient’s teeth, as well as worn or crooked teeth. Veneers can be applied to one tooth or several teeth, depending upon the recommendation of dentists. These teeth shells are also strong enough to endure normal wear and tear for many years.


With over 20 years of general and cosmetic dentistry experience, Dr. Jay Hustead of National Harbor, Maryland, is well-versed on both composite and porcelain veneers. He explains the procedure for getting veneers and unpacks the differences between the two types.

The Process for Getting Veneers

Most veneer treatments require three visits to the dentist. First, a trained professional needs to assess the patient’s mouth and see if veneers are the best treatment. In some cases, veneers may not address a more serious problem with the mouth or jaw, says Dr. Jay Hustead.

Once a dentist has determined that veneers are a good approach, they must prepare the tooth (or teeth) for veneers. Veneer prep usually involves altering the shape of the tooth and then taking a mold of the teeth. The veneer design is customized to the mold.

On the third visit, the dentist bonds the veneer to the tooth. After applying bonding and cleaning the area of extra adhesive, the veneer process is complete. 

While reshaping the tooth could involve numbing and slight discomfort, the veneer process does not require any serious dental procedure, such as surgery or tooth removal. Recovery is instantaneous, and results are long-lasting. Veneers come in two categories: composite and porcelain.

Composite Veneers

The resin (or bonding) material used in securing veneers to the tooth can also be manufactured into the veneer itself. Composite veneers are cheaper than porcelain veneers, according to Dr. Jay Hustead.

Dentists have more flexibility when applying composite veneers. The direct composite process involves applying the resin over the tooth into its final shape. This direct approach is the fastest way to apply veneers.

For the indirect composite procedure, the dentist uses a tooth mold to create the composite veneer (similar to the porcelain process). Once the veneer is ready, the dentist bonds the composite veneer over the tooth.

Regardless of whether a composite veneer is applied directly or indirectly, the dentist can create the composite veneer at the dental office. As such, the composite veneer process is notably faster than the porcelain veneer process.

Porcelain Veneers

Dr. Jay Hustead notes that porcelain veneers are more expensive than composite, but they are also stronger.

After taking a mold of the tooth (or teeth), dentists must send the mold to a lab that specializes in manufacturing porcelain veneers. It can take a couple weeks to a month from the order date for dentists to receive a porcelain veneer. As a result, patients getting porcelain veneers must wait a bit longer than those receiving composite veneers.

Dr. Jay Hustead Explains Which Kind of Veneers are More Popular

Both materials have pros and cons, notes Dr. Jay Hustead. For patients on a budget or timeline, composite veneers are the best solution. Since fewer people these days carry dental insurance, composite veneers offer an affordable cosmetic option.

That said, composite veneers are not built to last as long as porcelain veneers. A good set of porcelain veneers can easily last more than 10 years (compared to a 5-7 year lifespan for composite veneers). Also, porcelain veneers usually look slightly more natural than do composite veneers. 

Because porcelain veneers are stronger and better quality, the cost can be two to four times more expensive than composite veneers.
 
 
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