We are so fortunate to live in a time of advanced dental technology. Thanks to many methods developed over the past few years, virtually anyone can have a movie-star smile. Two dental procedures that produce dramatic improvements in the appearance of patients’ smiles are porcelain veneers and dental bonding. Although these methods produce similar results, they are quite different from one another. What follows are some important facts about each.
Porcelain veneers are exactly what the name implies – a thin layer of dental porcelain material that is applied over the surface of your natural teeth. Veneers can be an effective means of correcting a wide variety of minor dental issues, including any of the following:
- Badly stained teeth that cannot be whitened with whitening products
- Chipped or cracked teeth
- Gaps between teeth
- Misshaped teeth
- Worn teeth
- Overlapping teeth
Veneers are custom-made for each patient, and are extremely easy to apply. The porcelain material is very durable and usually lasts for many years.
Dental bonding involves the application of a bonding material over the patient’s natural teeth, then hardening that material using a specially designed light. Bonding produces results that are quite similar to veneers, leaving the patient with a dramatically improved smile. This method is simple and quick, and is often a good choice for the same type of minor dental issues that can be resolved with veneers. However, there are some important differences to consider:
- Bonding material usually needs to be replaced every 4 to 7 years
- The material used in bonding can be damaged by chewing on hard candy or ice, for example
- Bonding material can be stained just like regular teeth, so patients who engage in habits such as smoking or drinking too much red wine or coffee can stain their bonded teeth
Choosing Between Veneers and Bonding
Generally speaking, porcelain veneers are considered to be a more permanent way to improve a patient’s smile, while bonding is often used for minor tooth repair in addition to the cosmetic benefits. Veneers don’t stain easily and are stronger than bonded teeth. Veneers also last longer than bonding, but even veneers need to be replaced every 15 years or so. Unlike dental bonding, veneers are permanent – the patient’s teeth are altered with veneers because the top layer of enamel is removed prior to the veneers being applied. Veneers are also slightly more expensive than bonding.
Bonding, on the other hand, is a faster procedure than veneers and is somewhat less costly. While it is true that bonding material can be stained and is less durable than veneers, many patients choose bonding over veneers because of the similar results, the single-visit application process, and the fact that bonding is less expensive.
As is the case with any dental procedure, the only real way to determine what is best for you is to discuss the pros and cons of each with your dentist.