A dental veneer is a restoration that masks the front of a tooth in order to alter its appearance. It is commonly used to make cosmetic changes to the teeth, but is sometimes used to repair chipped or damaged teeth.
Veneers can be made of dental ceramic (porcelain) or dental plastic (composite resin).
Composite (Direct) Veneers
Composite resin veneers are also called direct veneers, because the dentist bonds a normal white filling material directly onto the front surface of a tooth or teeth to bring them into better alignment and/or to mask any unsightly or mis-shapen enamel. Direct veneers tend to not be as strong as ceramic veneers, but they are the more economical option, and do work well in many cases. They might chip or crack, but are usually easy to repair (or replace if necessary) in a single visit.
Ceramic (Indirect) Veneers
Porcelain veneers are also called Indirect Veneers. This is because they are made using a two-step procedure, rather than being built directly onto the tooth or teeth.
The veneer is made in a dental laboratory. The dental ceramist casts the impression to create a model of the patient’s teeth. Using high-quality porcelain, s/he then builds the veneers to fit the model.
The veneers are then bonded onto the patient’s teeth in a second appointment.
Porcelain veneers are stronger and more resistant to wear and tear, but they can still chip or break. Repair is sometimes possible, but often a damaged veneer needs to be replaced.
How Resistant to Breaking Are Veneers?
Veneers have a risk of chipping or fracturing or even coming off. The margins (edges) of the veneer may start to show over time, especially if a patient’s teeth are exposed to foods and beverages that may leave stains, such as coffee, tea, red wine, smoking, etc. Veneers often need ongoing maintenance to keep them looking great, and excellent home care is also important.