The term dental veneers refers to customised shells that cover the natural tooth, made from either composite resin or porcelain, that improve the overall visual appearance of the teeth.

Veneers are an excellent treatment plan for patients who are suffering from misshapen, chipped or stained teeth, as the general purpose of veneers is for cosmetic purposes. In more extreme cases dental veneers can be used as part of an overall dental makeover, to provide the finished, picture perfect results.

Porcelain vs Composite

The first consideration when looking into dental veneers is whether to opt for porcelain or composite resin veneers. The finished result of both products are quite similar in appearance, but composite resin is thinner, so it requires less of the surface of the natural tooth to be ground away, however a positive to opting for porcelain is that they are more stain resistant and can sometimes appear more natural looking. Composite resin veneers are simple in procedure and are generally done with just one appointment, however porcelain veneers are more of an undertaking, and the process is longer. The porcelain veneer process is as follows:

  • A first dentist visit is required so x rays can be taken to start the process.
  • Preparation for the veneers begins by the dentist trimming approximately half a millimetre off of the tooth enamel. Once this is done the dentist will take an impression of the teeth, which needs to be sent away to a lab, so a mould can be made. This stage of the process can take anywhere from one to two weeks.
  • Once the veneers are ready, another appointment is necessary so the dentist can check the fit and colour of the veneers. The teeth are then prepared for application with a thorough cleaning, followed by roughening up the tooth’s surface so the veneer can have maximum adhesion to the tooth. Veneers are attached with a cement product and then cured with an ultraviolet light so it can harden quickly.
  • The final stage of the porcelain veneer process is a follow up visit to the dentist so they can ensure they are properly placed, fitted and adhered inside the mouth. Follow up should occur a few weeks after the veneers are placed.


With both composite and porcelain veneers wearers can expect them to last a minimum of five to ten years before they require replacing, as they are unfortunately not a permanent solution. In order to maximise the lifespan of your veneers it is important to follow a regular oral hygiene routine that consists of brushing twice daily, flossing as per normal and having scheduled dental assessments.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Veneers

Opting for veneers offers patients many advantages, including that the products used in the process are well tolerated by gum tissue, they are stain resistant, have a natural look, is a conservative approach to drastically changing the look of your teeth without the extensive work required when using other treatment plans, and the ability to tint the veneers to the desired shade lightening darker teeth if necessary.

Veneers do have some drawbacks, and included in these are that it can be quite expensive, with porcelain veneers costing more than composite resin. In addition to this, in rare occurrences veneers can come loose and fall off, so it is important to refrain from damaging things such as nail biting, chewing ice and other hard objects, or putting unnecessary pressure or strain on the teeth.

It is possible for veneers to decay which will require further treatment and are not a good choice for patients with unhealthy teeth, or who are already lacking enamel, however, a good cosmetic dentist will be able to provide you with a full picture of what your new smile will look like before you begin.

Article supplied by London City Smiles – experts in both dental implants and cosmetic dentistry procedures.

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