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Composite vs Porcelain Dental Veneers – Which is Best?

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Composite vs Porcelain Dental Veneers – Which is Best?

If you’re unhappy with your smile, there are some cosmetic treatment options available. For crooked teeth, Invisalign that realigns your bite and teeth. If you have missing teeth, fillings and dental implants can act as permanent teeth.

However, veneers can help with multiple cosmetic issues at once, such as crooked, worn, small, uneven, happy, and discoloured teeth. The most common types of veneers are composite and porcelain veneers.

This article will discuss what they are, the differences between the types of veneers, and how to evaluate the type of veneers that is right for you.

Table of Contents

What are Composite Veneers?

Composite veneers are shells made from tooth-coloured composite resin to improve the appearance of natural teeth that may have cosmetic flaws such as discolouration, stains, gaps, cracked or chipped teeth.

The main advantage of composite resin veneers is their low cost and quick application process. However, the downside is that it isn’t as durable due to the weaker quality material.

These veneers last about 5 years and may need to be repaired or replaced more frequently than porcelain veneers.

Veneers on model

What are Porcelain Veneers?

Porcelain veneers are thin shells of porcelain with the thickness of a fingernail bonded to the front teeth.

Unlike composite veneers, which use composite material, these stain-resistant veneers use ceramic, which can last up to 20 years. For placement, a thin layer of natural tooth enamel must be trimmed before applying the porcelain veneer onto the front surface of the tooth. There are also ultra-thin veneers that don’t require trimming

Lumineers are a special brand of porcelain veneers that require no teeth trimming or preparation and are much thinner than traditional veneers.


What is the difference between porcelain veneers and composite veneers?

Depending on your circumstances, one type of veneer may be better suited for you than the other. Here are the differences between porcelain veneers and composite veneers in terms of application time, durability and maintenance, aesthetics, and cost.

Application Time

The veneer procedure will vary depending on the type of veneer you choose. Many dentists recommend getting teeth whitening treatment before the veneer placement to get stains and other bacteria out of your mouth.

First, the dentist will take X-rays to check your tooth structure for tooth decay and gum disease. Once approved for application, the dentist will etch the enamel from your front tooth to aid in adhesion. Next, adhesive glue will be applied to the composite veneer to stick to your teeth. Using the light, the resin will harden, thus creating a bond with your teeth.

The entire application time can take between one or two visits for composite veneers. Since these veneers do not require the dentist to take a mould of your teeth and create custom shells, they have the quickest application time compared to other types of veneers.

Comparatively, the dental procedure for porcelain veneers takes about two to three weeks. As with all veneers, the dental practice you visit will provide a consultation to understand your goals for your new smile and explain the procedure.

Once the patient is ready to proceed, the dentist will grind down the front surface of the teeth, removing some enamel in the process. This makes way to add the veneers on top of the teeth.

The dentist will take a mould of your teeth and have the porcelain veneers custom-made in the laboratory using the mould taken. In the meantime, temporary veneers will be applied.

Once the real porcelain veneers are ready, the dentist will use the same process of applying glue and using light to bond the veneer onto the teeth. With porcelain veneers, especially Lumineers, there are more translucent options to provide a more natural look.

Durability and Maintenance

Composite veneers last between 5 to 7 years on average, while porcelain veneers can last up to 20 years. However, many factors can affect the lifespan of the veneers, such as your oral health, oral hygiene, and dental care after the procedure.

It’s important to note that there are some risks involved with either treatment option. Composite veneers are more prone to chipping, meaning you want to prevent applying too much pressure on them.
If too little adhesive is applied, the veneer can fall off and separate from the tooth.

Porcelain veneers may cause increased teeth sensitivity after the treatment, so it’s important to perform proper maintenance and aftercare.
Both veneers require similar maintenance care instructions. Here are some tips to follow to ensure your veneers last longer and reduce the need for any replacements.

  • Brushing twice per day and flossing daily will keep your teeth clean and prolong the lifespan of your veneers. Make sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush to prevent bacteria from building up in your gums or around your teeth.
  • Avoid hard foods such as ice, nuts, and hard candies.
  • Avoid clenching or grinding your teeth. Grinding can cause the porcelain or composite material to wear down.
  • Avoid pigmented foods if you have composite veneers. Fortunately, porcelain veneers are highly stain-resistant, allowing patients to eat these teeth-staining foods. However, it’s still recommended that you stay away from sodas, tomato sauce, coffee, or smoking cigarettes for composite veneers to ensure the veneers remain a clean white look.
  • Wear a mouthguard if you play a contact sport. Veneers can chip or break if rough contact is made.
  • Keep up with routine check-ups and professional teeth cleaning. Your dentist can evaluate your oral health periodically to see whether the veneers are impacting your gums. Your dentist may prescribe creams to help cure gum irritation.
  • Use proper toothpaste and mouth wash. Make sure to avoid harsh or abrasive ingredients.

One advantage of composite veneers is that the dentist can repair them in one visit if they happen to break. However, porcelain veneers must be replaced if they are damaged.

Porcelain veneers fit appointment


If you’re looking for a smile makeover, it’s important to know the aesthetic differences between composite and porcelain veneers.

Composite veneers look somewhat natural, but the shade of colour is relatively opaque and isn’t very translucent. This means these veneers have a solid colour and look less natural.

These veneers may be prone to staining and wearing down over time. Additionally, it’s important to note that composite veneers are reversible, meaning if you’re unhappy, they can always be taken off.

Porcelain veneers use a special ceramic material that consists of light-reflective translucent qualities that provide a natural look.

Porcelain veneers are recommended for those who prefer aesthetically appealing natural teeth because they are difficult to differentiate from real teeth. Since these veneers are stain-resistant, you won’t have to continue performing monthly teeth whitening procedures on the veneers.
Unfortunately, porcelain veneers are irreversible and cannot be undone. That’s because the teeth have been significantly filed down and permanently reshaped. Porcelain veneers should only be replaced when putting on new veneers.


The cost of veneers will vary depending on where you live, which cosmetic dentist you go to, the type of dental treatment needed, and how many veneers you need. In the UK, composite veneers cost about £175 for a single tooth.

In comparison, porcelain veneers cost between £500 to £1000 per tooth, and Lumineers cost about £500 to £800 per tooth.

Since porcelain veneers most resemble natural teeth, they are the most expensive option. These veneers have light-reflective characteristics that mimic natural teeth. The material is stronger and more durable.

There’s also more prep work where the veneers are custom-made to fit your mouth. Although veneers are expensive, they are still much cheaper than other orthodontic treatments you’ll find given the results.

However, veneers may not be suitable for everyone. For minor discolouration, consider getting a professional teeth whitening before getting veneers. You’ll need tooth fillings instead of veneers if you have root canals.

Which Option Would You Choose?

Whether you choose composite or porcelain veneers, both are excellent options to rejuvenate your smile. If you are looking for a quick and affordable solution, you may consider composite veneers.

These veneers are ideal for people with dental anxieties or who don’t want to shave their teeth down since they are minimally invasive and reversible.

Composite veneers aren’t a great option for heavy smokers or people with bad oral habits like nail-biting.

However, patients who want the most natural-looking, durable, and effective treatment may choose porcelain veneers. In the long run, it’ll be cost-effective as well since it will require less replacement and repair.

Picture of Written by Dr. Sam Jethwa
Written by Dr. Sam Jethwa

BDS (Lon) MFDS RCS (Edin) PgDip ClinEd (UK)
Areas of expertise: Smile makeovers using ultra-thin porcelain veneers, smile design to restore worn teeth and advanced full mouth restorative dentistry.

“A perfect, natural, or bespoke smile is possible to achieve for anyone. There is no substitute for the feeling of confidence an individual and beautiful smile can give. We have developed techniques, which we teach to dentists across the UK and abroad, to help them better their care in their clinics. I believe in comprehensively treating every patient, to bring them up to absolute health, and then put in place maintenance to avoid patients from recurrent replacements, and further treatment. It is a passion for me to deliver an unrivalled experience and end result, which stands the test of time”

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