If you're looking into improving the appearance of your smile with dental veneers, your dentist will have two options—indirect and direct. Indirect veneers are usually porcelain and must be manufactured in a dental laboratory after your dentist has made an impression of your mouth to create the exact specifications for your veneers. Direct veneers are made of a tooth-coloured composite resin, which is applied directly to your teeth. In terms of price, you might be leaning more towards direct veneers. But are they really that different from indirect veneers?
Preparing the Teeth
Before veneers (both indirect and direct) are applied to teeth, the teeth must be prepared. With indirect veneers, this involves your dentist removing a thin layer of dental enamel from your teeth. This ensures that they won't be too bulky when the veneers are added. Direct veneers also require some preparation. However, less enamel is removed. In some cases, all your dentist will do is add a special etching solution to your teeth, which helps the composite resin bond to them.
Applied in Layers
Once your teeth are prepared, the composite veneers are added. It's applied in a viscous form, and your dentist will add it in layers—applying a layer of resin, drying it (using a special light) and then applying an additional layer. The dentist will continue until the desired results have been achieved. Direct veneers can generally be finished in a single session, which differs from indirect veneers. These must be specially manufactured, which can take several weeks (depending on your dentist and the laboratory they use to manufacture dental restorations).
Living with Direct Veneers
While indirect veneers involve less application time, they won't stand the test of time as well as their porcelain cousins. This is the downside to direct veneers. The composite resin can discolour, and for this reason, you must exercise caution in order to maintain their look. They're an unwise choice for smokers, and you must get into the habit of rinsing out your mouth after consuming anything that may stain your veneers. But since your indirect veneers are resin, as opposed to a unit of porcelain, they can easily be reapplied and generally touched up when they begin to show their age.
Choosing between indirect and direct veneers may be a little confusing, and direct veneers will fit the bill for many patients. But anyone choosing direct veneers must be willing to get into the habits necessary to maintain them.