Veneers vs Crowns

What are Veneers? 

Veneers are a popular cosmetic dental treatment for people looking to correct teeth imperfections. They correct issues like worn-down teeth, uneven teeth, excessive spacing, and tooth discoloration. 

A veneer is a thin layer of porcelain that is permanently bonded to the front surface of a tooth to change its shade and shape. 

People opt for veneers when they're looking to make a dramatic transformation to a tooth that treatment like dental bonding cannot correct. 

tooth in lower jaw with dental veneer

Veneers are only bonded to front teeth. They alter their appearance when someone wants to improve their confidence and create a beautiful smile. 

Porcelain veneers can be costly depending on the number of veneers needed and the dentist treating you. People will often use dental bonding as a stepping stone before investing in veneers, but the long-term benefits of veneers are undeniable. 

Veneers:

  • Are stain-resistant
  • Offer a whiter smile than teeth whitening
  • Can correct genetic or intrinsic tooth discoloration
  • Repair broken teeth
  • Correct irregularly shaped or sized teeth
  • Have a lifespan of about ten years

Dental Veneer Treatment Process (Steps)

Veneers typically take a few visits that include preparation, impressions, and permanent cementation. Some dental offices offer single-day veneers using CEREC (Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics). CEREC is an advanced 3-D dental technology that creates custom porcelain veneers in one day, eliminating the need for multiple visits and temporary veneers.

A composite resin veneer can typically be done chairside by your dentist. The dentist will sculpt composite material to cover the front part of your tooth to alter its shape and size. 

The steps of a porcelain veneer process typically include:

  1. Initial consultation — Your dentist will discuss the process, including the fees, and review any necessary intraoral photographs and dental radiographs. Your visit will ensure you are a proper candidate for veneers. 
  2. Tooth preparation — A small amount of enamel is removed to create space for your new veneer. A local anesthetic is administered to get you numb and comfortable during the visit. 
  3. Impression — A traditional putty impression is taken to create a mold of your teeth to be sent to the laboratory to create your veneer. If your dentist has an intraoral scanner, they will scan your teeth instead. 
  4. Shade selection — You and your dentist will select the appropriate shade for your veneer(s). The most important part is matching your adjacent teeth so that your veneer blends perfectly. 
  5. Temporary veneer — Your dentist will create a temporary veneer, typically chairside, to give you a restoration to wear until the veneer is fabricated. They are designed to last temporarily and are not as strong as a permanent veneer. 
  6. Veneer placement — Once your porcelain veneer is ready by the lab, your dentist will check the fit and make any adjustments necessary. Then it is permanently bonded, and you can be on your way with your new smile. 

What are Dental Crowns?

Dental crowns are full coverage, permanent restorations for teeth that need more support than a traditional filling or bonding. 

Dental crowns are full coverage, permanent restorations for teeth that need more support than a traditional filling or bonding. 

A dental crown has several advantages over a filling. They are very durable, highly aesthetic restorations that are custom-made and help support weakened teeth. 

stainless steel crown

Crowns are recommended for people who have:

  • Worn-down teeth
  • Previously failed fillings
  • Chipped or fractured teeth
  • Root canal treated teeth
  • Irregularly shaped teeth
  • Severe tooth discoloration
  • Tooth decay that extends below the gum line

Crowns come in various types of materials depending on the location of the tooth and your budget. People will often opt for porcelain or zirconia crowns in cosmetic areas because they are natural-looking. 

For teeth that need more support for chewing and biting, there are options ranging from porcelain fused to metal, all-porcelain crowns, and all-ceramic crowns.  

Dental Crown Treatment Process (Steps)

The dental crown process typically requires a few visits for the examination, tooth preparation and impressions, and permanent cementation. Some offices offer CEREC technology so that crowns can be fabricated in a single dental visit, eliminating the need for multiple visits. 

The typical process for dental crowns includes: 

  1. Dental examination — Your dentist will evaluate the tooth that needs a dental crown and its existing gum and bone health. If you have tooth decay that extends into the pulp of the tooth, your dentist may recommend root canal treatment. 
  2. Tooth preparation — Local anesthetic is administered to get the tooth numb during tooth preparation. The tooth is reshaped and shaved down to make room for the crown. Most crowns require a significant portion of the natural tooth to be removed. If a large portion of your tooth is missing, your dentist may use a dental filling material to create a “core buildup” to support the crown.
  3. Dental impression — A putty impression is used to create a mold of your teeth so that the crown can be made. Some offer digital scanners instead of traditional impressions. Impressioning is important to determine your bite, and your custom crown will fit comfortably. 
  4. Temporary crown — While your crown is being fabricated in a dental lab, your dentist will make a temporary crown to cover and protect your newly prepared tooth. They are typically made from acrylic.
  5. Permanent cementation of crown — When your crown is ready, your dentist will check the fit and bite of your restoration. If comfortable, the crown will be permanently cemented in place. 

What’s the Difference Between Veneers and Crowns?

Veneers are usually recommended more in cosmetic dentistry than dental crowns. For people looking to make a cosmetic change, a veneer is typically the best option. Veneers are used for anterior (front) teeth and not posterior (back) teeth.

Dental crowns are a dental restoration that treats both front and back teeth. Crowns are recommended for people who need to restore a tooth for more support when it is compromised by tooth decay or trauma. 

A crown can also be used for severely discolored teeth, worn down teeth, or when a large piece of a tooth is missing. 

The main difference between a crown and a veneer is that a crown covers the entire tooth. A veneer usually only covers the front portion of a tooth. 

Veneers vs. Crowns: Which is Right For You?

Veneers and crowns have several advantages to your oral health. Traditionally, if you have a large piece of tooth structure missing, a root canal, or a previously failed filling, a crown is recommended as the best option. 

If your tooth is intact and you are choosing a restoration to make an aesthetic change, a veneer is typically recommended. 

When are Veneers the Best Choice?

Veneers are an excellent cosmetic dental treatment for people looking for a dramatic smile makeover or looking to correct an insecurity. 

The most common reasons people choose a veneer are to correct intrinsic tooth discoloration, uneven-sized teeth or gums, gaps between teeth, or chips, and fractures. 

Some people need orthodontics like Invisalign prior to getting veneers. A veneer cannot change a tooth’s position. 

When are Crowns the Best Choice?

A dental crown is an excellent option for people who need to restore their teeth for more support. This usually occurs after a large filling, a tooth fracture, or a root canal. 

If a tooth is severely worn down, a crown can help restore the function and aesthetics of the natural tooth. 

Veneers vs. Crowns for Front Teeth

Veneers are the better option for front teeth when there is a minor imperfection like spacing or gaps, tooth discoloration, or uneven sized teeth. 

Crowns are recommended for front teeth when they have had root canal treatment, or a tooth has been severely worn down. If a tooth has a failed filling or is broken from trauma, a dental crown is the best option. 

Veneers vs. Crowns: Tooth Preparation

Both veneers and crowns require teeth reshaping and enamel removal to make room for the new restoration. Some types of veneers (like Lumineers) require minimal tooth removal, while others require significant tooth reduction. A veneer usually requires around 1 mm of tooth removal. 

Crowns typically require a significant amount of tooth removal on all sides to make space for the restoration. Dental crowns need around 2 mm of tooth removal. 

Veneers vs. Crowns: Upkeep

Both veneers and crowns require the same type of maintenance. It would be best if you cared for your veneer or crown the same way you would your natural tooth. 

Your dental hygiene is important for your overall oral health and will affect the longevity of your dental restoration:

  • Daily brushing and flossing
  • Routine dental visits
  • Healthy diet
  • Avoid tobacco products
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Wear a night guard for grinding

Veneers vs. Crowns: Pricing & Insurance

Both veneers and crowns can be costly without dental insurance. Fees will always vary based on the location of the tooth, dental office demographic, and material used.

For veneers, the cost can range from $925-$2500 (per tooth). Porcelain veneers are more costly than composite or snap-on veneers. Dental insurance will typically not cover veneer treatment because it is considered cosmetic and elective. Most dental offices will offer an in-house discount savings plan or payment plan. 

Dental crowns cost will range based on several factors: material used to fabricate the crown, if a specialist is used to create the crown (prosthodontist or cosmetic dentist), and the tooth location. 

Crowns can cost anywhere from $1000 to $3500 per tooth. This fee does not include any additional procedure like a root canal, post, and build-up. 

Insurance will traditionally cover a portion of a dental crown, and you will be responsible for the remainder, including your deductible. If a crown is a treatment planned solely for cosmetic purposes, there is a chance dental insurance will not cover it.

Resources

Dental veneers — What to expect (n.d.).
oralb.com/en-us/oral-health/life-stages/adults/dental-veneers-what-to-expect.

Porcelain veneers — Procedure, costs, and recovery. (n.d.).
yourdentistryguide.com/veneer-procedure/.

Haj-Ali R, Walker MP, Williams K. Survey of general dentists regarding posterior restorations, selection criteria, and associated clinical problems. General Dentistry. 2005;53:369–375  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16252541/.

Fasbinder DJ. Chairside CAD/CAM: an overview of restorative material options. Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry. 2012;33:2–8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22432177/.

M.G. Wiley. Effects of porcelain on occluding surfaces of restored teeth. The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry, Volume 61, Issue 2, 1989. https://doi.org/10.1016/0022-3913(89)90360-0.

El-Mowafy O, El-Aawar N, El-Mowafy N. Porcelain veneers: An update. Dent Med Probl. 2018 Apr-Jun;55(2):207-211. doi: 10.17219/dmp/90729. PMID: 30152626. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30152626/.

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