Composite Veneers vs Porcelain Veneers: Five Little-Known Differences

For those unfamiliar with the term: dental veneers are shells created to mimic teeth. They are cosmetic additions designed to improve your teeth’s appearance. Attached to the front of the tooth, dental veneers can improve your teeth’s colour, size, shape, or length. They are attached surgically and may require local anaesthetic. This can be a costly procedure, and due to its cosmetic nature, it is not often covered by private health insurance. Nevertheless, veneers can be a good option if you have chipped, discoloured, crooked, or smaller-than-average teeth. There are two different types of dental veneers: porcelain or ceramic veneers and composite resin veneers. Read on to discover five little-known differences between the two.

Cost

If you’ve decided to get dental veneers, the first thing you should consider is your budget. Straight-up: composite veneers are going to be cheaper than porcelain veneers. In Australia, composite veneers will be in the ballpark of $400 to $800 each, whilst the porcelain variety should cost between $1,600 and $2,500. However, cost should not solely determine your decision. If you’re looking for a permanent cosmetic solution, you may want to fork over the extra cash for porcelain veneers.

Hint: it might cost a little more than that for even a composite veneer.

Lifespan

Composite veneers do not share the longevity of their porcelain counterparts, averaging a four- to eight-year lifespan. More prone to chipping, they are also higher maintenance. Porcelain veneers, on the other hand, tend to last between 10 to 15 years. Once affixed, they typically do not require that much maintenance. Though porcelain veneers are not budget-friendly, they are an investment in durability, and this may be something to consider when choosing your veneer(s).

Procedure

It’s certainly quicker to install composite veneers. Your dentist can perform the installation in a single trip to your dental clinic. Firstly, your dentist will find resin that best resonates with your teeth’s overall colour. Secondly, they will apply this to your teeth, followed by a cure and a polish. Porcelain veneers, on the other hand, typically require at least two sessions. If you’ve ever purchased prescription orthotics, the first step of the process is similar—only, instead of a podiatrist taking an imprint of your feet, a dentist will take an impression of your teeth. Your dentist will send this mould to a lab to create your customised porcelain veneers, which they will affix to your teeth upon your next visit.

Composite veneers are quicker to install, but porcelain veneers involve a lengthier process because they are uniquely tailored to your teeth’s shape.

If you’re going with composite veneers, the dentist will find the resin that best resonates with your teeth’s overall colour. 

Cosmetic appearance

Although both veneers look great, porcelain’s aesthetic quality is unmatched. Unlike composite resin—and natural teeth, for that matter—it is stain-resistant, rendering teeth-whitening procedures potentially unnecessary. Moreover, it can have an uncanny resemblance to natural teeth, catching light in a similar way. The only drawback with porcelain veneers is that they are irreversible, whereas you can remove composite veneers if they’re not working out for you.

I can’t believe it’s not natural! Image: Primary Dental

Permanence

Building on that point about irreversibility, it’s important to note the permanent nature of porcelain veneers. If you’ve opted for the porcelain option, you’ve also made a lifelong commitment to your appearance. Though they can last 10-15 years—sometimes longer—you will need to replace porcelain veneers whenever they wear out. This is what sets them apart from composite veneers, which can be a temporary option. During surgery, your dentist will need to reshape and reduce your natural tooth enamel. If they don’t do this, your mouth could look unnaturally crowded or clunky. Altering the tooth enamel is irreversible. If you were wanting veneers simply due to discolouration, you may want to investigate less permanent options, or try a different avenue altogether, such as teeth-whitening treatments.

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