Resin Bonding Versus Porcelain Veneers: How To Compare The Strengths And Weaknesses Of Each Restorative Technique

Restorative dentistry offers patients lots of options, but two major methods in use today include resin bonding and porcelain veneers. Both are used with great success and can eliminate unsightly cosmetic flaws in the smile. However, it is important to know why you might decide to choose one technique over the other in a given situation. Below is more information on both bonding and veneers and a comparison of each technique's strengths and weaknesses:

Bonding and veneers - an introduction

Resin bonding is the application of pre-mixed, liquid materials that are applied, shaped and hardened to match the teeth. The materials used in bonding are actually specially-formulated plastics; they are soft and pliable until cured with a special ultraviolet light. Once cured, they permanently "bond" to the surface of the teeth.

Veneers consist of thin, pre-shaped pieces of porcelain that are permanently applied to the teeth using dental cement. The porcelain can be cut and polished by the dentist both before and after application. As with bonding techniques, porcelain veneers are considered a permanent solution to fixing cosmetic flaws in the teeth.

Resin bonding - strengths and advantages

The use of resin bonding carries a few advantages over porcelain veneers, especially in certain circumstances:

  • Lower cost - the average cost for obtaining a porcelain veneer is about $1,100 per tooth, while the expected price tag for a resin bonded tooth is a little over $600. Considering the discount is nearly half when compared to veneers, there is a significant financial incentive for budget-conscious individuals seeking a better smile. In addition, if a child is being treated, the use of the less-expensive resin makes a lot of sense with baby teeth, since their lifespan is limited anyway.

  • Less-invasive - another plus for resin bonding is that its less-invasive character. While some tooth surface preparation is indicated, such as mechanical or chemical etching, there is usually more material removal associated with the installation of veneers. Less removal of enamel means there is a lower likelihood of teeth sensitivity and discomfort for bonding patients.

  • Closer color matching - the plastic used in the resins can be tinted in a variety of color shades to match the surrounding natural teeth. This means there is much less chance for the restoration to stand out or be unnatural in color.

  • Structural matching - in the hands of a skilled dental practitioner, resin bonding can be structurally matched with surrounding teeth to a very high degree. Dental instruments can shape the soft resin before hardening to mimic the grooves and shapes founds on natural teeth, and it can also be successfully shaped after hardening if the dentist needs to do so.

Porcelain veneers - strengths and advantages

Despite the above list of benefits gained through the use of resin bonding, there are several advantages to be found when using porcelain veneers:

  • Stain-resistant - porcelain is still among the most stain-resistant materials available to dentists and can be exposed to a variety of harsh substances such as coffee, tea and other foods that might permanently discolor resins. Porcelain can be cleaned in the same manner as natural teeth and whitened accordingly; once a resin bond has "turned", the discoloration cannot be removed.

  • Long-term durability - porcelain veneers, if treated with an appropriate level of care, can be expected to last many years and hold up under the normal stresses of biting and chewing without any ill effects. This makes them a much better choice for using with teeth that are exposed to higher tooth-to-tooth pressures during eating. Resin is more likely to be chipped or cracked and usually must be replaced within a decade or so of installation.

  • Natural appearance - while resin can be accurately matched in terms of color, porcelain is far superior in its surface texture and ability to mimic natural tooth enamel. The "sheen" of a porcelain veneer is almost identical to that of teeth, and this is difficult to replicate with resin. Learn more from your local dentist.