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Rachel Jenkins

Porcelain versus composite veneers

Veneers have been around for a long time but only really took off in the 1980s. In recent times they’ve been seen (and rightly so) as a fast comprehensive cosmetic solution. They do fix everything especially when you have a full set of veneers, from alignment to chips to cracks even giving you control over exactly what shade of enamel you would prefer. But this doesn’t mean that they haven’t had their drawbacks, and wherever there are limitations, there is the opportunity for innovation. Today, traditional porcelain veneers are now coming head-to-head with composite veneering techniques, and both are available from most dental clinics. These cosmetic miracles are just some of the desirable requirements available from your dentist in Tunbridge Wells.

Porcelain method

Porcelain veneers are the oldest permanent cosmetic dental fixtures. They are predated by their acrylic forbearers, but these were temporary and more common as special effects makeup rather than dental treatments.

A porcelain veneer is a thin wafer of toughened porcelain, produced slightly oversized in a dental laboratory. Once delivered to the clinic, they can be fitted to the front of the prepared tooth and are then trimmed to their final size using a dental drill with a sculpting bit.

Composite method

The composite method is relatively new; it relies on UV-cured resins that only found their way into clinical use in the last 5 years. They’ve provided an innovative way of treating both fillings and cracked teeth. The resin is premixed, matching the translucency and shade of the patient’s natural enamel. Then, it’s applied to the tooth and allowed to freely seep into even the smallest cracks and crevices before a UV light is applied. Upon exposure to UV rays, the resin hardens becoming tough, chemical resistant and stain resistant. It was first used in white composite fillings, as the resin can be reapplied in multiple layers allowing large structures to be formed in much the same way as gel nails. It can also be carved and shaped with commonly available dental equipment, allowing the finish on the bonding to be polished or aged to make it look more natural.

In-situ procedure

This in situ method of producing veneers involves building up the front surface of the teeth and successive coats of UV resin. By producing the veneers directly in the mouth the procedure only takes a single sitting, compared to the two of traditional porcelain veneers. This cuts down the costs of using third-party fabrication, a saving that can be passed on to the patient.


Older veneering techniques removed significant quantities of the enamel on the front of the teeth and required deep etching of the remaining tooth surface, giving the necessary purchase for dental cement. With the development of better adhesives less enamel needs to be removed and the laminates are less likely to come away from the tooth. With good oral care and regular check-ups, both composite and porcelain veneers can last 20 years, although porcelain veneers are more likely to become permanently damaged as even if a composite is scratched, cracked or chipped, it can easily have an additional layer of resin added.