When wanting to change the shape, length, width, colour and overall appearance of your front teeth, your dentist will probably discuss two options with you: dental veneers and dental bonding. Both, when done well, can enhance the beauty of your smile.
Veneers are made by a ceramist in a dental laboratory after a dentist has shaped the proposed teeth. With the advancement of Digital Smile Design technologies, it has become so much easier for patients to become more involved with the aesthetics of their smile and the final outcome. In most cases digital veneers can be custom-made and placed for patients to view before the dentist has so much as picked up a mirror.
Bonding is done by placing a thin layer of composite resin over the tooth to hide minor imperfections, fix small chips and close small gaps.
Veneers are still the paragon of aesthetics when it comes to creating beautiful smiles. This is because ceramists nowadays use a plethora of porcelain shades and opacities to create what are virtually works of art.
The main advantage of veneers over dental bonding is that they are stronger and more flexible, which makes them less susceptible to fracturing. In some twenty years of practice I have noticed a higher propensity for patients to clench and grind their teeth while sleeping, which I can only attribute to our more stressful lifestyles. This is where the superior life span of veneers over bonding is particularly relevant.
Veneers, furthermore, do not stain, thanks to their superior surface texture. This makes them easier to clean and maintain, which in turn promotes healthier, natural-looking gums as well.
Conversely, bonding has three main advantages over veneers:
- They are usually less than half the price.
- There is, under normal circumstances, minimal to no tooth shaping required.
- The procedure can be done in a single visit, versus two to three visits for veneers.
Unfortunately bonding has a limited lifespan as the composite will eventually stain, chip and discolour, no matter how proficient the operator was.
Bonding in the right hands is an acceptable short-term treatment option, especially if it’s used as a precursor to placing veneers at a later stage. It is also often used to mask imperfections temporarily while orthodontic treatment is still in progress.
We have also used both bonding and veneers to great effect where patients have had untreated gastro-intestinal issues. Heightened levels of acidity in the oral cavity can wreak havoc with one’s teeth. Once the patient has been successfully treated by their physician, the lost tooth structure is ideally replaced by porcelain.