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Facings also possible on existing fillings

17 January 2012

A thin veneer, known as a facing, could help people with old, discoloured fillings in their front teeth and be an alternative for a crown. Marco Gresnigt, dentist-researcher at the UMCG, has demonstrated this in research which has revealed that it is possible to fit a facing after preparation of the old filling, thus negating the need for a crown. Gresnigt will be awarded a PhD for his research on 18 January 2012 by the University of Groningen.

Less healthy enamel needs to be buffed away when fitting a facing than a crown. As a result there is less chance of neuralgia, which is much more pleasant for the patient. The aesthetic effect of a facing is not only comparable to but sometimes superior to that of a crown.


Gresnigt researched the way that facings can be bonded to old, problem-free fillings which are not corroded by caries (tooth decay). Until recently, it was not possible to fit facings to old fillings, which meant that dentists had little choice but to remove the old, discoloured fillings or fit a crown. Gresnigt researched how dentists can prepare the surfaces of the tooth and the filling to make them suitable for facings. After the preparation, a composite or porcelain facing is fitted to the tooth and bonded with cement. Facings have a long life; after 10 years 90% of the facings are still adhering properly.

Comparative research

In order to compare the quality of the most common facing materials – porcelain and composite – properly, Gresnigt used a method known as ‘split mouth’. On one side of a patient’s mouth a porcelain facing was fitted, and on the other a composite facing. This meant that the circumstances under which the facings were compared were identical. The facings were evaluated immediately after fitting, and for the next 4 years. The research has revealed that both materials are suitable for facings.


Improving the looks of your teeth, known as aesthetic treatment, is an important part of a dentist’s work. Gresnigt expects that more and more dentists will regard the fitting of facings on the front teeth as a welcome supplement to the existing possibilities. An important advantage is that less healthy enamel needs to be buffed away than when fitting a crown. This reduces the chances of neuralgia. Gresnigt expects patients to become increasingly aware of the possibilities to maintain their teeth and to choose facings over crowns where possible.

Curriculum Vitae

Marco Gresnigt (Zeist, 1978) studied dentistry at the University of Groningen. He conducted his research at the University Medical Center Groningen at the Centre for Dentistry and Dental Hygiene (CTM). The title of Gresnigt’s thesis is ‘Clinical and laboratory evaluation of laminate veneers.’


Last modified:15 September 2017 3.29 p.m.
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