Two of the most popular cosmetic dentistry treatment that helps enhance smiles and cover up dental flaws are porcelain veneers and dental bonding. Your choice of treatment will depend on the overall look that you desire; your lifestyle, i.e. if you are a smoker or regular coffee drinker; your budget; and the overall condition of your teeth. Your dentist will advise you which option will suit you better.
Porcelain veneers use wafer-thin sheets of tooth-shaped porcelain (custom-made to perfectly fit each tooth), and which are then glued to the front of each tooth.
Dental bonding uses a pliable tooth-colored composite resin which is directly applied to the teeth. It is sculpted to match the size and shape of the other teeth, and also colored appropriately. It is then hardened with UV light and polished.
Both porcelain veneers and dental bonding achieve the same result – which is the improvement of a person’s smile by masking dental flaws, such as discolored teeth, gaps between teeth, a chipped tooth, or irregularly shaped teeth. Here are the main differences between the two:
- Materials used. Porcelain veneers use thin, shell-shaped porcelain, molded from teeth impressions so each perfectly fits on top of a tooth. Dental bonding uses a soft composite resin (plastic) that is directly applied on the teeth and molded.
- Treatment process. Treatment with porcelain veneers requires two dental visits. The first one is for taking impressions of the teeth; the second one is the treatment itself, wherein a layer of the tooth’s enamel is removed, and the porcelain veneer is glued in its place. Dental bonding can be completed in one visit, and involves the application of an etching solution to slightly roughen the tooth’s surface so the bonding material can adhere more effectively. And then the resin is applied, shaped, and colored to match the rest of the teeth. High-intensity light is used to harden the resin, and then it is polished to achieve a smooth appearance.
- Durability. Porcelain veneers can last between 10 and 15 years, and even longer. They are also resistant to staining. Dental bonding can last up to 10 years with proper care. But because the bonding material is porous, it easily stains.
Because dental bonding requires more care than porcelain veneers, Colgate.com recommends these oral care tips: avoid beverages that can easily stain the teeth, such as coffee, tea, and red wine; and practice good oral hygiene by brushing at least twice and flossing once daily.