Veneers are used to repair the spaces between teeth, as well as to correct permanently stained teeth (external and internal stains). They are also the best method of hiding unsightly fillings, which can occur via cheap dental work, or from having a filling erode over time. Lastly, veneers are almost always the first choice for correcting poorly shaped teeth, so confidence in smiling can be restored.
The next best thing to a porcelain veneer is something called a composite, or resin veneer. Resin is nothing more than a filling material that resembles the color of your teeth, but perhaps made brighter in order to assist in hiding stains. This is the material used to hide a filling once completed, and can be further manipulated and molded to cover over a tooth, creating veneers.
The benefits of composite resins definitely begins at the price point, you can see below just how drastic a price difference there is between the two. As well, a composite veneer can be applied within one dental visit. The most notable benefit of a composite veneer is that it can be repaired if damaged. The downside of resin veneers is they generally will not look as natural or appealing as a porcelain veneer, and they certainly do not last as long. They will discolor quicker than their porcelain counterpart, and they do tend to chip and crack. As well, while you can normally expect a composite veneer in one dental visit, the “in chair” time is around 2 to 3 hours, depending on the amount of work required. This can be a hassle for those who’s dental appointments normally take place during a work day.
Porcelain veneers, therein, have many advantages over composites. In the first place they look completely natural; the visual appeal is much better than that of a composite veneer. Also, once applied, the porcelain veneer is much stronger once it is attached and cemented to the tooth. Porcelain does not wear down, and they will not stain as quickly as a resin composite, in fact you would be hard pressed to stain a porcelain veneer at all if they are well maintained.
The only real downside to a porcelain veneer, aside from the price point, is that once chipped they must be replaced. You cannot repair a damaged porcelain veneer. Another important factor that can be considered a disadvantage is that in the process of getting a porcelain veneer, once completed it cannot be reversed. The original tooth enamel is roughed and manipulated in order to make way for the veneer and that will cause a permanent need for the veneer.