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A common question asked by more than 90% of those who want to improve and design their smile is “what is the difference between laminates and dental veneers and which one is better?”
Dental veneers and laminates are both cosmetic dental treatments that help to enhance the beauty and change the appearance of teeth.
In each of these treatments, a thin layer is attached to the teeth (usually to about 6 to 10 teeth in each upper and lower jaw seen in a smile) and changes the color, size, and shape of the tooth.
The difference between dental veneer and laminate is in the material they are made of. This difference makes the steps of these treatments different as well as the characteristics of each of them.
To determine the feasibility of these treatments for the patient in the examination session, the teeth, the relationship between the upper and lower anterior teeth, and relationships between tooth and face shapes are carefully examined.
One or both of these treatments may be possible for the patient. Sometimes an initial treatment for example gum contouring for one or more teeth seen in a smile may be needed before having dental veneers or laminates. Sometimes none of these treatments are possible and the patient may need orthodontics or even orthosurgery.
What is Dental Veneer?
A dental veneer is a thin shell made of two different materials, composites and porcelain. They are placed directly on the teeth by the dentist during one session (approximately five hours for each jaw) minimally invasive treatment in which a very small amount of tooth structure including enamel will be ground down for veneers to fit.
Composite veneers are less preferred because they are stainable and have a relatively high brittleness. However, it still has a lot of fans because they take less time to be prepared and installed on the patient’s teeth and the patient can have a beautiful smile in one session.
Porcelain veneers are less prone to staining and much more durable than composites, so if you take proper care of them, they can last up to ten years. Also, the appearance of this type of dental veneer is very natural and beautiful, and this type of veneer is usually used to design a Hollywood smile. To place them correctly on the patient’s teeth, it is necessary to remove a thin layer of enamel and make some minor changes in the shape of the teeth. The purpose of these changes is to ensure that the veneers are properly placed on the teeth and do not create a bulky and abnormal appearance on the teeth. This is an irreversible and somewhat painful process, which is why the dentist usually uses local anesthesia to install this type of dental veneer.
Porcelain veneers cost is almost twice composite veneers. Although composite veneers may be damaged sooner, they can be easily repaired. On the opposite, porcelain veneers are more durable but not repairable. So, if they are broken or damaged, they must be completely replaced.
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What are laminates?
Laminates have a similar function to dental veneers, that is why the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably.
Laminates are actually an advanced form of porcelain veneer and both are almost identical in function and benefits, except that laminates are thinner and only about the thickness of contact lenses.
Also, to install them on the teeth, it is necessary to remove a smaller amount of tooth enamel. Although less tooth grinding is better for dental health, it also has disadvantages, including not changing teeth size and shape makes the laminates have a relatively prominent appearance, and do not look as natural as porcelain veneers. Also, laminates cost more than porcelain veneers.
Which treatment looks more natural? Laminates or dental veneers?
Because porcelain particles refract and transmit light better than composite, and also because of the surface glaze that is applied to the porcelain before baking them, porcelain veneers and especially laminates look nicer and brighter.
Are dental veneers more durable or laminates?
The durability of both is highly dependent on how well they are maintained. However, if you follow the dentist’s instructions to take care of them, the expected durability of the laminates and porcelain veneers is twice composite veneers. The lifetime of dental composite veneers is about 5 to 7 years while laminates and porcelain veneers’ durability is about 10 to 15 years.
Composite veneers are highly subject to changes in thermal expansion. This is definitely the reason why composites take on more color than laminates and it is even the cause of many cases of edge staining after a while of dental veneer treatment. In contrast, a very positive feature of laminates is that their thermal expansion is similar to tooth enamel. This is very important and perhaps the most important reason for the long-term durability of laminates.
Also, since porcelain veneers and laminates are baked in a laboratory oven at a temperature above 700 degrees Celsius, porcelain particles form a strong and durable structure. In contrast, the composite hardens in the mouth using blue light, so the strength of composite veneers is obviously less than laminates and porcelain veneers.
Which treatment is better? Laminate or veneer?
Dental veneers and laminates are both good ways to improve the appearance of your teeth and design a beautiful smile.
In addition, they are non-invasive treatments that you will get the result in much less time than methods such as orthodontics.
However, as you read in the previous sections, dental veneers and laminates differ in terms of raw material, cost, and results, so which treatment is best for you is entirely up to you and your dentist and what you expect from the treatment.
In general, if you are looking for small and quick corrections in the design of the smile or the shape and form of a small number of your teeth, composite veneers will be a very good option for you. Because they are light and do not need to remove tooth enamel.
But if you need to make major changes to correct the shape, size, and distance between your teeth or you are looking for high color stability or high bleaching of the teeth, laminates and porcelain veneers will be a better option.
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