Composite Veneers: What You Should Know

Veneers are thin shells that are placed over the front of teeth to improve their overall appearance, fix spacing, or correct chips or minor cracks. Two materials are used to make these customized caps: porcelain and a resin composite. The former type is made in off-site laboratories, while a composite veneer can be crafted chair-side and applied in a single appointment.

Whether used to brighten smiles or to repair damaged teeth, composite veneers are well-tolerated and provide lasting results.

If you’re considering treatment, it’s important to understand your options. This article provides a quick overview of composite veneers, including how they’re installed and how they compare to their porcelain counterparts.

Close up of a young woman smiling and showing her teeth.

Delmaine Donson / Getty Images

What Are Veneers?

Veneers have been used in cosmetic dentistry since the 1930s. Veneers are caps placed over the front surfaces of teeth to correct minor aesthetic or structural issues.

Veneer installation is minimally-invasive compared to other dental restorations, such as dental crowns (caps placed over existing tooth structures). Little to no existing tooth enamel needs to be removed before veneers can be put on.

Veneers can be used for a variety of dental problems, including:

  • Stains or discoloration of the teeth
  • Chips or minor cracks
  • Abnormally shaped teeth
  • Minor misalignment of the teeth (malocclusion)
  • Repair of dental crowns or bridges

The Limits of Veneers

Veneers can correct many dental and orthodontic issues, but they are not likely to be successful in certain cases. Cosmetic dentists or orthodontists may recommend alternatives when you have:

Veneer Types

As a longstanding approach in cosmetic dentistry, the composition of veneers has evolved and continues to do so. Along with the use of composite resin, porcelain veneers have emerged as a popular alternative. Here’s a quick breakdown of each type of veneer.


Composite veneers are the longest established of the two types, with recent innovations in their composition further improving outcomes. They consist of the same type of specialized resin that’s used for dental bonding or fillings. This material is carefully applied and color-matched in the dental office during one appointment, giving realistic and durable results.


Porcelain veneers are a recent innovation in dental restoration. They most often consist of porcelain that's rich in the mineral, feldspar. The material is called feldspathic porcelain. The shells are known for their durability and attractive appearance.

However, unlike composite veneers that can be crafted in the office, porcelain veneers can only be made in off-site laboratories using sophisticated 3D modeling and manufacturing techniques. As such, multiple appointments are needed to complete the fitting for porcelain veneers.

 Composite vs. Porcelain

When comparing composite to porcelain veneers, there are many factors to consider, such as the installation procedure, cost, and durability. While both effectively correct smiles, each type has its advantages and disadvantages. Understanding the differences between these dental restorations is critical for making an informed decision that's best for you.

Pro & Cons

Compared side-by-side, composite veneers offer several advantages over the porcelain type. These include:

  • Less-invasive: Some portion of (the outer shell of the tooth (enamel) may need to be removed before fitting porcelain veneers. Less enamel needs to be removed to apply composite resin.
  • Lower costs: Composite veneers are the more affordable of the two options—they're generally about half as expensive. They also require less preparation time and appointments, which further lowers the price.
  • Less time: Porcelain veneers are crafted off-site in dental laboratories, so you may need to wear temporary veneers for a week or more before the final set is installed. The process for composite veneers is less complicated and happens in a single visit, which is why they’re also known as “same-day veneers.”
  • Easier repair: If cement veneers get damaged, it’s usually easier to repair them. Chipped or cracked porcelain veneers need to be completely replaced.

It’s also important to consider the drawbacks of composite veneers, which can influence your decision. These potential downsides include:

  • Durability: Porcelain veneers are expected to last longer. Researchers have found that about 93.5% of them survive 10 years, and 91% at 20 years. The lifetime of composite veneers tends to be shorter, with an estimated survival rate of 80% at 5 years. The latter is also more likely to chip or crack.     
  • Appearance: Composite veneers are made of a material that is translucent, which can make them a little less natural-looking than porcelain ones. The former is also much more susceptible to staining than the latter—something that's worth considering if you're a coffee drinker, tobacco user, or have poor oral hygiene.
  • No whitening: The composite and porcelain resin are not susceptible to this treatment. This is why it’s important to prevent treated teeth from becoming discolored.

While porcelain veneers tend to be longer-lasting, more durable, and more resistant to staining, composite veneers are more affordable. They're also quicker and less invasive to have put on.


Composite veneer installation can be completed in a single visit to the cosmetic dentist. Generally, the installation procedure goes as follows:

  • Impressions and imaging: The cosmetic dentist will use dental X-rays and other types of imaging to get pictures of your teeth. An impression of your teeth may be taken.
  • Preparation: To prepare the surface of the tooth, a small amount of enamel may need to be filed off. This is generally painless, but you may be offered a local anesthetic to keep you comfortable.
  • Color-matching: To make sure the veneer has a natural appearance and fits in with your teeth, the cosmetic dentist will spend time color-matching the resin composite prior to application.
  • Application: An adhesive cement is placed on the tooth, and the composite resin is carefully applied, one very thin layer at a time.
  • Affixing: Once the composite resin is applied, a special light is shined on the area to help it harden and become more firmly affixed. Then, the cosmetic dentist cleans the area one last time, removing any residue from the process.

Once they’re set, you should be able to resume normal eating and drinking.

How Long Do Composite Veneers Last?

They don’t generally last as long as porcelain ones, but composite veneers provide an effective, long-term solution to aesthetic or orthodontic issues. In general, they’re expected to last about four to eight years, though it depends on your oral health and habits. Longer term, they may need to be replaced.  

Proper brushing and flossing, regular dental cleanings and exams, as well as good dietary habits are key to keeping your veneers for as long as possible. Avoiding foods, drinks, or habits that stain teeth—such as drinking coffee or tea or smoking—can also help.


The amount that you'll end up paying for composite veneers can vary based on how many teeth need treatment and where you’re having the work done. Cosmetic treatments typically are not covered by dental insurance, which can affect your out-of-pocket expenses. Generally, the costs for composite veneers range from $250 to $1,200 per tooth.   


Composite veneers are thin shells placed on teeth to correct their appearance, fix minor chips or cracks, or make minor corrections to tooth alignment. Made of composite resin, they’re applied in a single appointment to match surrounding teeth.

Compared to porcelain veneers, composite veneers are cheaper and less invasive; however, they aren’t as durable and stain-resistant. Good oral hygiene habits and regular dental visits help preserve the appearance of veneers.

A Word From Verywell

Nowadays, there are many options for correcting your smile. Composite veneers, along with their porcelain counterparts, have proven to be an effective, well-tolerated way of achieving lasting results. Whichever type you choose to make your teeth brighter and more attractive, it can be a way to restore your confidence. If you’d like to learn more about your options, take the time to talk to your dental health provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I whiten composite veneers?

    Compared to porcelain veneers, composite veneers are more susceptible to staining and discoloration. Unfortunately, teeth whitening procedures—whether performed in dental offices or at-home—have limited to no effect on the composite resin. Regular dental cleanings, good oral hygiene habits, and avoiding substances that stain teeth (such as coffee, tea, or tobacco), help prevent discoloration. Composite veneers may also need to be replaced.

  • How do I take care of composite veneers?

    Composite veneers, though durable, can be subject to staining and damage. Good oral hygiene along with some adjustments can help preserve the results. Typical maintenance tips include:

    Brushing and flossing: Brush with a soft brush toothbrush at least twice a day. It’s a good idea to also brush after consuming tea, coffee, or other tooth-staining foods. Floss at least once a day.

    Dental visits: Get regular dental check-ups and cleanings to ensure dental issues don’t arise as well as boost the appearance of your teeth.

    Wearing mouth guards: If you grind your teeth at night, you may need to wear a mouth guard while you sleep to preserve your veneers.

    Diet: A nutritious diet is important for the health of your teeth. Avoiding or being mindful of foods that are high in sugar can help.

    Steering clear of stains: Drinking coffee or tea, red wine, and habits like smoking or tobacco use can stain teeth. Avoiding these will help preserve the appearance of composite veneers.

    Avoid baking soda: Toothpaste with baking soda, though helpful for whitening, can actually damage veneers.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Alothman Y, Bamasoud MS. The Success of Dental Veneers According To Preparation Design and Material TypeOpen Access Maced J Med Sci. 2018;6(12):2402-2408. Published 2018 Dec 14. doi:10.3889/oamjms.2018.353

  3. Breziner J. Porcelain dental veneers: treatment, recovery & cost. Your Dentistry Guide.

  4. Anand E. Dental veneers process. NewMouth.

  5. Perry L. Can you whiten veneers? How to whiten porcelain and composite veneers. Dentaly.

Additional Reading

By Mark Gurarie
Mark Gurarie is a freelance writer, editor, and adjunct lecturer of writing composition at George Washington University.