Telling the Twins Apart: Veneers vs Dental Bonding
If you’re looking to conceal, rather than fix, your toothy imperfections, read this.
If we were to draw an orthodontic family tree, traditional braces and Invisalign would be rival siblings. They were born from a single desire to fix crooked smile by moving teeth into place and they both do it well, albeit in vastly different ways. Over in the aesthetic dentistry family tree, where appearances in terms of form and colour matter most, we have the identical twins of porcelain veneers and dental bonding.
Both are cover-up pros that can hide gaps and cloak chipped, misshapen, mildly crooked or badly stained front teeth. But like any set of twins, they have their own qualities and characteristics. It’s easy for a mother (or, in this case, a dentist) to distinguish them, but much trickier for the average person. Here’s how to tell the twins apart—and figure out which one’s right for your smile.
Colour: Now vs Then
With porcelain veneers, a thin cover (or laminate) of porcelain is custom made to fit over your teeth; with dental bonding, a composite resin is moulded and adhered to your teeth. Broadly speaking, veneers do a better job at mimicking the translucency, anatomy, and shade of natural teeth. Over time, the differences between the twins are likely to become even more pronounced as porcelain veneers tend to be more stain resistant. The resin material used in dental bonding is porous, which makes it more susceptible to yellowing caused by coffee, tea, and cigarette smoke.
Shape: Freehand vs Computer
In dental bonding procedures, your dentist would apply the resin material on your natural teeth, shape it by hand, then harden it with a special light. Porcelain veneers involve a more exact science where your dentist scans or takes a mould of your teeth for the veneers to be custom produced based on your requirements. This, however, has two implications when it comes to method.
Method: Single vs Multiple Sessions
Because porcelain veneers are custom made, the procedure usually requires a couple of trips to the dentist to complete. In comparison, dental bonding can typically be done in a single session (unless there are multiple teeth to be worked on).
The nature of porcelain veneers also means that your dentist needs to shave off a wafer-thin layer of enamel before they can be adhered to your teeth. The pay-off, however, is usually a more natural-looking result.
Durability: The Test of Time
Since the twins use different materials, it should come as no surprise that they differ in terms of strength and durability. Generally speaking, dental bonding doesn’t last as long as porcelain veneers. The resin material used in dental bonding is undoubtedly strong; it’s just not as durable as your natural tooth enamel nor as hardy as the porcelain used in porcelain veneers. While dental bonding’s failure is usually due to fracture, porcelain veneers’ failure is mainly due to debonding (where the veneers fall off). Of course, how well you care for them makes a difference as well.
Cost: Pros vs Cons
In a nutshell, porcelain veneers cost more than dental bonding. But they can offer more aesthetically pleasing results that last longer as well. It’s best to weigh all the pros and cons — including how often you have to get them replaced or touched up — before making a decision.
Now that you understand the distinguishing features of porcelain veneers and dental bonding, it may be time to talk to a qualified dentist about your ideal smile. You may find that there are alternatives to concealing your imperfections, like hopping on-board the smile express to get mild-to-minor crooked teeth corrected once and for all. Always ask about your options!