Veneers, Bonding & Composite Fillings

A combination of lifestyle and personal factors can result in teeth showing various faults or blemishes over the years. Your dentist can offer a variety of modern treatments to improve the appearance of your teeth and smile.

Changes in the appearance of teeth can be due to:



Procelain Veneers

These are thin, tooth-coloured porcelain (ceramic) shells carefully crafted to bond to and cover the front of unsightly teeth. They are a more conservative treatment than a crown and can often be used as an alternative if the underlying tooth is strong and healthy.

Veneers are excellent for treating chipped, discoloured, slightly misaligned or misshapen teeth or gaps between the teeth, especially if these defects affect the front teeth. A tooth that is too small or has irregularities can be successfully treated with a veneer.

Two or three visits to your dentist will usually be required to prepare the teeth and fit the veneers. Your dentist will discuss your needs with you and plan the treatment that suits you best.

An appointment typically takes from one to two hours depending on the number of teeth to be treated. To prepare each tooth, your dentist will remove a thin layer, about the thickness of a fingernail, from the surface of the tooth. This allows room for the veneer to be glued into place later. A local anaesthetic may be required during this step. An impression is taken of your teeth and sent to a dental ceramist, who manufac. trues the veneers to fit your teeth.

Cementing of the new veneers occurs at the next appointment and may take a few hours. Your dentist will check on the colour and fit before finally bonding them into place. The teeth are cleaned with a chemical that helps bond the veneer to the tooth. After a cement is placed between the veneer and your tooth, a light beam activates the cement to bond the veneer firmly.

Colour can be altered by using vary ing shades of cement, so it is important that you discuss any changes you require before the final cementing is done. Once the veneer is bonded to the teeth, the colour cannot be changed. After the veneer has been bonded, it is trimmed and polished.


The care of veneers

Caring for your veneers will ensure that they last longer. Regular checks with the dentist who fitted them, or one who is experienced in the care of veneers, is recommended. During your visit, the veneers will be polished, and any irregularities will be trimmed. Mention to your dentist if you have noticed any problem during brushing or flossing.

Excessive chewing or biting, especially on foods like hard lollies, ice or bones may break the porcelain. Holding other hard objects in your teeth such as nails, pens or bottle tops may damage the veneers.

If they are struck by sharp objects, porcelain veneers can fracture, just like normal teeth. Wearing a mouthguard during sport is strongly recommended.

Good dental hygiene is important to extend the life of the veneers. Regular brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing after meals will help to prevent decay.

Advantages of veneers

Disadvantages of veneers

Other considerations with veneers

After your dentist prepares your teeth and you are waiting for the fitting of the veneers, the teeth will feel rough and strange due to their exposed, buffed surfaces. At this time, teeth may be more sensitive to air or touch and to hot or cold foods. They are also more likely to stain. Attention to hygiene is important during this time. The exposed teeth can be covered with a temporary veneer if you wish, although this is not usually necessary and will increase the cost of the procedure.

Veneers are not a replacement for corrective dental procedures in people with overcrowded or badly misaligned teeth, or upper and lower teeth that do not meet evenly. As health gums are essential to the success of veneers, daily attention to oral hygiene is important.


Direct laminate veneers

Direct laminate veneers are a conservative alternative to porcelain veneers. They can be used in a wide variety of cases. First, the tooth’s front surface is etched, and an adhesive coating is applied. Similar to bonding, layers of a putty-like bonded ceramic material are then applied to re-create the natural colour of the tooth’s entire front surface. An intense light is applied intermittently throughout the layering process to cure and harden the ceramic material. The cured material is then contoured and polished to create a natural looking tooth.


Advantages of direct laminate veneers

Disadvantages of direct laminate veneers



Bonding is useful for improving small irregularities but is less successful than veneers in the treatment of some problems. The tooth is prepared by etching its surface with a gel. The surface is then painted with a bonding liquid that sets firmly when a special light is shone on it. A putty-like resin is mould ed onto the tooth and shaped. The light is again used to harden it. Finally, the set resin is trimmed and polished.

Taking care of your bonding


Advantages of bonding

Disadvantages of bonding

Composite fillings

Composite fillings can be an alternative to amalgam fillings. They are made of a plastic material mixed with small glass particles and are tooth coloured, rarer than silver. They are suitable for repairing both the front and the back teeth.

After preparing the tooth, your dentist will place layers of the composite filling into the area to be repaired. Each layer of the composite material is hardened by exposure to a special light.

Once the cavity or defect is filled, your dentist can trim the composite to fit the tooth and then polish it to reduce discolouration or staining.


Advantages of composite fillings

Disadvantages of composite fillings

Inlays & Onlays


Inlays are fillings that were traditionally made of gold but now are often made of porcelain, ceramic or composite material. They are used to repair moderately damaged back teeth and need to be extremely strong to withstand the grinding pressures of these teeth.

Inlays are glued into place and are contained within the cusp tips of the tooth. A special glue is used to increase the strength of the bond.


Made of the same materials as inlays, an onlay is a more extensive repair that covers the tooth cusps.

An onlay is much stronger than any other type of filling and actually increases the strength of the tooth.


Application of inlays and inlays

The fitting of inlays and inlays usually requires two dental visits.

The first visit involves removing the old filling or the decayed area and preparing the surface for the new filling. An impression is made of the area and sent to the dental laboratory so the inlay or onlay can be constructed. A temporary cover or filling is applied until the next visit.

At the second visit, the temporary cover or filling is removed and the new inlay or onlay is fitted. Your dentist will ensure that it is a perfect fit and does not interfere with your bite. It is then bonded into place with a powerful glue and polished.

Advantages of inlays and onlays

Disadvantages of inlays and onlays