Veneers (including direct and porcelain)
Veneers are thin laminates which usually cover only the surface of the teeth people see when you smile and talk (the “facial” surface). Sometimes they are designed to wrap part way around the edges of the teeth onto the inside surfaces, either to eliminate decay, to provide better retention to the tooth, or to improve the appearance of them.
Veneers can be made of either porcelain, which are produced in a laboratory and bonded to the teeth at a separate appointment from the preparation appointment; or from composite resin filling material, which can either be made in a laboratory and bonded on at a later date (like porcelain veneers); or built directly onto your tooth by the dentist.
Traditional porcelain veneers require greater removal of tooth structure, but arguably deliver the best cosmetic result. More recently, thinner, less invasive porcelain veneers have become available which can produce good esthetic results, no sensitivity, and no chance of the tooth developing inflammation or infection secondary to the procedure.
As you might imagine, building a veneer directly on your tooth from composite resin filling material is very challenging from an artistic and technical perspective. However, dentists who do them can often produce outstanding results, less invasively than porcelain veneers can. Direct veneers may also cost less, simply because there is no lab bill involved.