When it comes to improving the appearance of your teeth without going through lengthy whitening processes or expensive crown fittings, having veneers fitted is one of the most popular and effective choices. However, the material your veneers are made from is important, especially when dealing with your highly visible and heavily used front teeth. Veneers are generally made from one of two materials -- porcelain or plastic composites -- and each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages when for front teeth veneers.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of choosing porcelain?
Porcelain is the traditional choice of material for veneers, but it's venerable history in dentistry doesn't make it any less useful in modern times. Porcelain veneers are strong and highly durable, forming an enduring bond with the natural tooth below the veneer once cemented in place. They are also much thinner than composite veneers, meaning that less of your remaining tooth will need to be removed before the veneer can be fitted.
Porcelain's most attractive quality is the way it mimics the look of a natural, healthy tooth. Porcelain veneers are thin enough to be semi-translucent in the same way that natural tooth enamel is so their overall appearance can very closely match the look of a natural tooth, particularly in natural light. They are also available in a wide variety of subtly different shades, allowing you to match your veneers to the colour of the remaining natural teeth surrounding them. It goes without saying that these qualities make porcelain an excellent choice for veneering highly visible front teeth.
Unfortunately, choosing porcelain also comes with a number of inherent disadvantages, chief among which is its brittle nature -- while porcelain veneers are generally very durable and are glazed to provide added strength, impact damage or chewing hard foods can cause the material to chip, leaving porous pits that can become quickly and indelibly stained. You will also find yourself paying significantly more for a porcelain veneer than a composite one, and the complicated nature of manufacturing them means that there is generally a delay between designing and fitting the veneer.
What about the advantages and disadvantages of choosing composite veneers?
Composite veneers are made from tough plastic resins and have become very popular choices for tooth repair. One of the main reasons for this popularity is their price -- you can expect to pay significantly less for composite veneers than porcelain ones. They are also much quicker to manufacture and in may cases can be fitted chair-side on the same day you have them crafted, meaning less money spent on repeat appointments, time off work, etc. Despite their low price, composite veneers easily rival porcelain veneers in terms of strength and durability.
Unfortunately, the composite resins used to make these veneers are porous, and while they will not stain as easily as a chipped porcelain veneer, they will discolour over time and need to be replaced; however, it's worth mentioning that replacing a composite veneer is usually far easier and quicker than replacing a porcelain one. You may also have trouble matching composite veneers to the colour of your natural teeth as they are opaque and will look visibly darker than your healthy teeth in bright lights. As such, you may want to consider choosing composite for veneering canines and lateral incisors rather than your larger and more visible central incisors.
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