Dental veneers are a type of cosmetic procedure commonly used to correct minor imperfections in the teeth. They come in two basic forms: composite and porcelain. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages. Although most people prefer porcelain, composite is also useful in many cases.

What are dental veneers?

Getting a dental veneer involves the placement of a thin shell of either composite or porcelain onto the surface part of one or more teeth. Veneers are used to correct various cosmetic problems with the teeth, such as:

  • Minor chips
  • Small cracks
  • Discoloration
  • Gaps

What is composite? 

Composite veneers are the least expensive type of dental veneer. They do not normally require any removal of tooth structure prior to placement, as with porcelain veneers.

Composite veneers are created on-the-fly by your dentist as you sit in the dentist chair. The composite is a soft, malleable material similar to putty. Your dentist will carefully sculpt it directly onto your teeth and “cure” it with the use of a special light.

The main advantage of composite is that it is the least expensive option. However, composite is not as strong and durable as porcelain, and has a tendency to become stained and chipped over time. Some patients will get composite veneers is a temporary measure until they can afford porcelain.

What is porcelain? 

Porcelain is the preferred material used in creating most dental veneers. The reason that porcelain is popular as a veneer material is largely due to its strength and durability. It simply lasts longer than composite. For this reason alone, many people prefer it, although it costs more upfront.

Another great quality of porcelain is that it very closely resembles some important properties of natural teeth. For one, the color of porcelain is very similar to that of regular teeth. It even has a translucent quality that is similar to the sheen of a natural tooth. 

The main drawback of porcelain is that it is more expensive than composite. But considering that composite wears out more quickly, it may be worth it to you to pay upfront instead of on the back end.

For some, another drawback is that porcelain requires more than one dental appointment. Typically, at your first appointment, your dentist will remove a small amount of tooth enamel to make room for your veneers. So this is a permanent procedure; at this point, there is no going back. 

During your next appointment, your dentist will have received your custom-crafted porcelain veneers back from the dental laboratory. At that time, your porcelain veneers will be permanently bonded to your teeth.