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Can you put porcelain veneers over composite fillings?

My dentist says that you cannot put veneers over a tooth that is mostly made up of composite, is this a true statement? This would be on my front two teeth. I wanted to do veneers but he recommends crowns.
– Judy from Washington

What your dentist is telling you may or may not be right, depending on what the actual situation is with your front teeth.

It’s not that you CAN’T put porcelain veneers over composite. Veneers are bonded to the teeth using a composite cement, so that can be done. But when a tooth is, say, half composite filling, it isn’t smart to put a porcelain veneer over it. By the time it has that much filling to it, it should be covered with a crown anyway to keep it from breaking off. And if there is a lot of filling in a tooth, that means that you’ve had lots of cavities in your front teeth. The porcelain crown is a much better protection against tooth decay than a porcelain veneer. And if you tend to get cavities on your front teeth, the margin of the veneer, where it meets the tooth, is a vulnerable place that would be very susceptible to more decay. So the crown is a better idea and would last much longer.

Having said that, if the existing composite on your front teeth is on the fronts of those teeth, then trimming that composite back and putting a porcelain veneer over it instead would be an excellent treatment. Most dentists are simply not very comfortable doing porcelain veneers, but all dentists are comfortable doing crowns. So I often get e-mails from patients whose dentist told them that they should have crowns when they really should have porcelain veneers. Without knowing your dentist and seeing the teeth you’re talking about, I couldn’t tell if that is the case. But I would advise you to be careful. An artistic dentist will be very proud of the appearance of his or her work, and will display photographs of that work. They may be on the walls of the office, or in photo books. Only 1-2% of dentists are artistically inclined like this. If this doesn’t describe your dentist, I would advise you to find an expert, artistic cosmetic dentist for this work and not use your regular family dentist.

This blog sponsored by Naperville cosmetic dentist Dr. David Newkirk