Discover the different types of dental veneers
A dental veneer is a layer of material that covers the outside surface of a tooth to provide a much more attractive appearance. Overall, this is an aesthetic solution. A patient’s worn teeth can be restored with a veneer procedure, provided there is a reasonable amount of good enamel on the tooth for the veneer to bond.
Some people have concerns that a veneer may peel off easily but it is actually a very durable solution. There are people walking around with veneers that have been on their teeth for over 20 years.
Broadly speaking, there are two different types of veneers—ceramic and composite.
Ceramic dental veneers
Ceramic veneers are made outside the mouth and conceptually are a little like a false fingernail. A small amount of preparation is done to the tooth prior to bonding. Any sharp corners on the tooth are removed because ceramic material is very strong but also brittle.
We can make ceramic veneers in our practice but prefer to send them away to a specialist technician. Using a technician is a guaranteed way to deliver the most pleasing veneer possible. Once they’re back from the lab, we bond them to the patient’s teeth.
A good analogy is that a ceramic veneer is very similar to a ceramic tile. If you put a tile on grass and jump on it, it will crack because it’s not supported by anything underneath. However, if it’s bonded to a surface—concrete for a ceramic tile, tooth for a veneer—it is incredibly strong and durable.
Composite dental veneers
Composite veneers consist of a tooth-coloured filling material that is shaped on the tooth by the dentist while the patient is in the chair. They are built up in layers directly onto the tooth and a very effective bonding procedure is used.
The advantage of composite veneers is that they can be completed in a single appointment. They are also a lot less expensive because they take less time and there’s no technician involved.
I’ve achieved some very nice results with composite veneers but they aren’t quite as strong as ceramic and won’t last as long. Ceramic veneers are truly amazing as the technician can build natural-looking colours into the veneer.
Hybrid dental veneers
There are now some veneers made of hybrid materials utilising pre-formed resin shells. At present, there isn’t a lot of long-term information about how well they last. Until there is more data, we’ve chosen not to go down that path. Until we see how well they last and what they look like after they’ve been in place for five years, we won’t offer them to our patients. We’re a little concerned that they might not be everything the manufacturer claims.
A beautiful solution
It’s important for patients to understand that there are limitations to what can be achieved with a veneer procedure. It’s impossible to make large changes in shape or colour as the teeth would need to be cut. We always sit down with our patients before starting the process and discuss exactly what is achievable.
As a dentist, I like a nice, natural look. The best result is one where no-one is aware we have done anything but the patient looks and feels much better. The most important thing for me is that my patients get the result they want and are happy with the end result.