Composite Dental Veneers
An Affordable Choice?
Having a beautiful smile is today seen as a sign of health, wealth and vitality, which is why the popularity of dental veneers amongst the rich and famous is at an all time high - but are they financially accessible to everyone?
The answer to this is quite possibly yes, for in fact there are a number of different types of veneer, ranging quite dramatically in price, with porcelain veneers being at the very top of the scale. Porcelain veneers are therefore generally not accessible to the average person, with prices starting somewhere between £300 and £400 per tooth and rising to around £1,000 per tooth at exclusive UK clinics. However, composite dental veneers, which are essentially made from reinforced plastic resin, are an alternative option for those on a budget. They may not last quite as long as porcelain, but they do have other advantages as well as the more affordable price tag.
What Are They Used For?
Composite veneers are used to treat a number of cosmetic dental issues.
One of the most common usages is to rectify the appearance of crooked teeth, especially in adults who may not wish to commit to wearing braces for a long period of time. If teeth are crooked, a rapid orthodontic treatment can be used instead. Known as Align, Bleach and Bond (ABB), this pioneering technique blends the use of composite veneers with other treatments to straighten and whiten teeth for a brighter looking smile. If teeth are stained or discoloured, composite veneers can be used to improve the look of teeth that cannot be treated with a dental clean or whitening treatment. The enamel on teeth is also subject to erosion, namely due to acid found in fizzy drinks and sugars. If enamel damage occurs, along with other cosmetic issues such as chipped teeth, composite veneers offer a cost-effective a minimally invasive method of repair.
A common cosmetic dentistry complaint is a gap between the teeth, and composite veneers are commonly used to fix this. When the gap is between the front teeth (diastema) or anywhere else, the treatment can be carried out in a single visit as an outpatient procedure, making it both cost-effective and convenient.
Description And Options
Dental veneers are small bonded slithers covering the surface of the tooth. They are the cosmetic treatment of choice for those with chipped or discoloured teeth, and of course for those who can afford them. Veneers are carefully cemented to the tooth's surface, giving it a natural, non bulky look. It is quite common to have only the front teeth treated, as these are generally the only teeth seen when smiling, with many individuals only having work carried out on the top row. A consultation with a specialist will inform you of your options, as there may be some techniques that are unsuitable for you. For example, a high level of discoloration would likely mean that both top and bottom rows of teeth would require work.
There are two different techniques commonly used in composite veneers - direct and indirect. Direct veneers are completed within one visit and are sculpted there and then, the result often depending on the skill of the dentist, however these do not last as long as indirect veneers. (This tends to be true of both composite and porcelain procedures.) With indirect veneers, an initial impression is taken and then veneers are made before you attend the clinic, resulting in a better end product. If you have crooked teeth, or other noticeable cosmetic issues, then indirect veneers may be the only option available to you.
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Before your composite veneers are fitted, you will undergo a consultation with a cosmetic dentist to confirm you are an eligible candidate for the procedure, and to discuss the process of adhering the veneers.
A physical examination will also take place during this time to eliminate the presence of any active gum disease or inflammation that could compromise any cosmetic treatment. It is during this consultation too that your dentist will take steps to colour match your natural teeth to find the suitable shade of veneer. During the application, your teeth will be thoroughly cleaned and dried to remove surface build-up of plaque and tartar. The cleaner the surface of the tooth, the better the adhesion for the veneers. Once your teeth have been dried, a rubber dam will be fitted to ensure there no saliva can reach the teeth, as this will impair the bonding process. The front of the tooth will be etched with acid, roughening up the surface to help the composite “grip” to your tooth surface and adhere better. The bonding agent (glue) is then applied to the surface, and the composite material is added in layers to build up the tooth.
Your dentist may choose to repeat this process, removing and sculpting the materials as they go, to achieve the desired effect before polishing to finish of the completed veneer.
Advantages And Disadvantages
Composite dental veneers can be made and applied in just one day and are now stronger and more durable than ever, lasting somewhere between 4 and 8 years. They generally cost around half the price of porcelain veneers, and often very much less. Porcelain veneers cannot be repaired if broken and must be replaced. However, with composite veneers, there may be a chance of repair at a much lower cost.
One of the major disadvantages of composite over porcelain is that the veneers don't look quite as natural; they will chip and they do require maintenance. Additionally, the 4 to 8 year life of the composite veneer doesn't sound very impressive when compared to the 12 - 25 year life of porcelain, which rarely requires maintenance. Composite veneers can also wear under pressure and are not as stain resistant as porcelain.
To correctly maintain your composite veneers, you will need to keep up a good level of oral hygiene and attend for regular check ups. Your dentist will advise you on how often you should attend.
It is highly unlikely that you would be offered any form of veneer through the NHS, as this would fall under a cosmetic treatment, however if you feel your teeth are affecting your quality of life and you have a good case to put forward, then contact them for information. It has been known for NHS dentists to acquire funding for fitting veneers in the past.