There are many options for dental materials. Even if you eliminate the metal amalgam fillings and metal crowns, you still have to choose between composite materials and porcelain when deciding on your treatments. Whether you’re looking to close a gap in your smile, fill a cavity, repair a chip, or perform another cosmetic reshaping of your teeth, you are presented with the choice between composite materials and ceramics.
So how do you choose?
When everything is said and done, porcelain is the best pick in terms of attractiveness. In cosmetic dentistry, there is no rival to porcelain in terms of mimicking your natural tooth material. The color can be matched precisely, and ceramics have a naturally tooth-like luster, with the proper translucency and texture. They retain their polish and resist staining, too. So if you’re looking for the most attractive way to close a gap in your teeth or restore a chipped tooth, porcelain veneers are the right choice.
We want to note that this matters even when you might not think it would. For example, you might not think a dental implant’s material matters, because it will be concealed under the gums. But titanium dental implants can make your gums look grey, especially if you have thin or highly translucent gums. Zirconia dental implants retain a more attractive appearance under your gums, looking more like natural tooth roots.
This is not to say that composite materials can’t look good. When used for fillings and tooth reshaping, composite can be polished to look similar to tooth enamel. But it won’t retain its polish as long or as well, and it is more vulnerable to staining.
If you are looking for a long-lasting treatment, then you are looking for porcelain. Dental ceramics are highly advanced materials, capable of standing up to a high degree of punishment, and are expected to last ten years or more. In fact, porcelain fillings have proven their durability, performing even better than gold in some studies.
But in cases where you aren’t looking for a long-lasting treatment, composite materials are recommended. Perhaps you are unsure whether you want to commit to porcelain restorations and want to “try out” potential results with composite dental bonding. These treatments are inexpensive and quick enough to make this a reasonable choice. Or perhaps your bite hasn’t finished growing and you don’t think it would be wise to commit to a long-lasting treatment. Or maybe you need a short-term fix because of a dental emergency. All these situations are ones in which composites make good choices. And, of course, if cost is a limiting factor, composites are much less expensive than porcelain.