Composite is a resin-based filling material used in dentistry. It’s popular with patients because it’s a tooth-colored material, which is more aesthetically appealing compared to conventional amalgam (silver) fillings. Using composite to restore teeth is also commonly referred to as dental bonding because the material is chemically bonded onto the tooth surface to cover gaps, small cracks, and discoloration.
Composite can be used in many different aspects of dentistry ranging from filling cavities tosmile design and improvement. Due to its aesthetic properties, composite is frequently used in cosmetic dentistry in form of “composite veneers” (also known as dental bonding). Patients who aren’t happy with the appearance of their smile can often benefit from this procedure.
Dr. E will get to know you and your smile goals to see if bonding is right for you. Goals can range from brightening the shade of your tooth to changing the shape and size of your tooth.
During this procedure, the surfaces of the teeth are prepared and the composite is bonded and shaped to achieve the aesthetic goals that the patient desires.
The bonding material is then hardened using a special light and polished to match the shine of the natural teeth.
Dental bonding allows patients to achieve their aesthetic goals in a short period of time at a feasible cost. This is often a single-visit procedure, where you will walk out of the dental office the same day with your new smile. In terms of cost, dental bonding is often more affordable than porcelain (ceramic) veneers, because they require less chair time (single visit vs. multiple visits) and do not involve the need for dental laboratories.
By default, composite does not have the strength of porcelain. Therefore, composite veneers often don’t last as long as porcelain veneers. They are also more susceptible to staining over time. Also, the bond between the tooth and the composite could become compromised over time,allowing for bacteria to “leak” underneath the restoration and result in the formation of cavities.
Finally, composite does not reflect light as well as ceramic. A key factor of how aesthetically pleasing a restoration could look has to do with the ability of the material to reflect light. Materials suchas ceramic that reflect light well appear shinier and thus more aesthetically pleasing. Materials such as composite that don’t reflect light as well as ceramic could appear somewhat dull to the eye. Therefore, despite its initial appeal, patients should consider these cons prior to committing to composite veneers.
During this procedure, the surfaces of the teeth are prepared and an impression of the prepared teeth surfaces are made and sent to a dental laboratory, where a master ceramist fabricates the veneers. This concludes the first appointment. The veneers are then sent back to the dentist and are permanently cemented onto the teeth. This concludes the second appointment. A set of temporary veneers are fabricated for the patient, so the surfaces of the teeth are covered and protected during the time between the first and second appointments, which usually takes about a week.
Ceramic veneers are much stronger than composite veneers and can therefore last much longer. Ceramic also reflects light extremely well, allowing for a more aesthetically pleasing and natural-looking smile. Ceramic veneers are permanently cemented onto the teeth surfaces. Subsequently, there’s a lower risk of debunking, bacterial leakage, and subsequent formation of cavities underneath them.
Ceramic veneers require two separate appointments. The first appointment includes tooth preparation, impression, and temporization. The second appointment includes the delivery of the veneers. Also, ceramic veneers tend to be costlier than their composite counterparts, because they require more chair time and their fabrication involves the skill of a master ceramist at a dental laboratory, which leads to added lab fees.
The following information can help you make an informed and educated decision about which option fits your needs better. While making that decision, ask yourself:
1. What are my aesthetic expectations? (Keep in mind the superior aesthetics of ceramic veneers compared to composite veneers)
2. What is the ideal amount of time I’m willing to invest in improving my smile? (Single visitprocedure vs. double visit procedure)
3. What is my budget? (Composite veneers are more affordable)
4. Am I willing to spend more for better aesthetics and improved longevity of my veneers?(Ceramic veneers are more expensive)
5. How important is the ultimate health of my teeth to me? (Composite veneers do pose the risk of bacterial leakage)