Dentistry
Cosmetic
Product Reviews
Updated on January 9, 2023
8 min read

Veneers vs Crowns

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What’s the Difference Between Veneers and Crowns?

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

A veneer is typically the best option for people looking to make cosmetic changes. They are only placed on anterior (front) teeth and sometimes the premolars, but not the molars.

Dental Crown Porcelain

Dental crowns are a type of dental restoration used to treat both front and back teeth. They help restore a tooth when it is compromised by tooth decay or trauma. Dentists also use crowns in the following cases:

  • Severely discolored teeth
  • Worn down teeth
  • A large piece of the tooth is missing

Read on for a more in-depth comparison of veneers and crowns.

What are Veneers? 

Veneers are a popular cosmetic dental treatment used to correct tooth imperfections. These imperfections include:

  • Chips on teeth
  • Uneven teeth
  • Excessive spacing
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Different-sized teeth 
veneer NewMouth

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 want to make a dramatic transformation to a front tooth that treatment like dental bonding can't correct.

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 mild genetic or intrinsic tooth discoloration
  • Repair broken teeth
  • Correct irregularly shaped or sized teeth
  • Have a lifespan of many years if properly cared for

What are Dental Crowns?

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

Dental crowns have several advantages over fillings. They are durable, custom-made restorations that 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

Crowns come in various types of materials. The type needed depends on the location of the tooth and your budget. Most people opt for porcelain or zirconia crowns in cosmetic areas because they look more natural.

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

Veneer vs. Crown Procedure

Veneers and dental crowns have similar procedure steps, but key differences exist. Both require tooth reshaping and enamel removal to make room for the new restorations.

Some veneers (like Lumineers) require minimal tooth removal, while others require around 1 mm. Crowns typically require significant tooth removal on all sides to make space for the restoration. Depending on the material, they require around 1-2.5 mm of tooth removal.

What Takes Place During a Veneer Procedure?

Veneers typically take a few visits, including 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 of getting veneers, including the fees. They will also review any necessary intraoral photographs and dental radiographs. A full examination will ensure you are a proper candidate for veneers.

2. 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 your veneer blends perfectly.

3. Tooth Preparation

During the procedure, your dentist will remove a small amount of enamel to create space for your new veneer. They will administer a local anesthetic to get you numb and comfortable during the visit.

4. Dental Impression

Your dentist will take a traditional putty impression to create a mold of your teeth. They will then send these to the laboratory to create your veneer. If your dentist has an intraoral scanner, they will scan your teeth instead.

5. Temporary Veneer

Your dentist will create a temporary veneer, typically chairside, so you have a restoration to wear until the permanent veneer is fabricated. As the name suggests, they are designed to be used for a short time and are not as strong as a permanent veneer.

6. Veneer Placement

Once your porcelain veneer is ready from the lab, your dentist will check the fit and make necessary adjustments. Then, they will permanently bond your veneer to your natural tooth, and you can be on your way with your new smile. 

What Takes Place During a Dental Crown Procedure?

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 crowns can be fabricated in a single dental visit, eliminating the need for multiple visits. 

The typical process for dental crowns includes:

1. Initial Consultation

Your dentist will evaluate the tooth that needs a dental crown and its existing gum and bone health. If tooth decay extends into the tooth's pulp, your dentist may recommend root canal treatment.

2. Tooth Preparation

Your dentist will administer a local anesthetic to numb the area. The tooth is then reshaped by removing enamel and dentin 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

Your dentist will use a putty impression to create a mold of your teeth so that the crown can be made. Some offer digital scanners instead of traditional impressions. 

Impressioning determines your bite and the margins of the crown. This ensures the custom crown will fit like a glove.

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 or resin.

5. Permanent Cementation of Crown

When your crown is ready, your dentist will check the fit and bite of your restoration and make any necessary adjustments. If acceptable, they will permanently cement the crown in place.

Are Veneers or Crowns Right for You?

Veneers and crowns both have advantages and disadvantages. It’s essential to know which one is most suitable for your situation.

Both require the same care, which involves:

  • Daily brushing and flossing
  • Routine dental visits
  • Healthy diet
  • Avoiding tobacco products
  • Limiting alcohol consumption
  • Wearing a night guard for grinding

When are Veneers the Best Choice?

Veneers are an excellent cosmetic dental treatment for people looking for a dramatic smile makeover. Dentists usually recommend them for intact front teeth.

The most common reasons people choose a veneer are to correct the following dental issues:

  • Mild intrinsic tooth discoloration
  • Uneven-sized teeth 
  • Gaps between teeth
  • Chipped teeth
  • Fractured teeth

Some people need orthodontics like Invisalign before getting veneers. A veneer cannot change a tooth’s position or the position of the gums by itself.

When are Crowns the Best Choice?

A dental crown is an excellent choice if a large piece of tooth structure is missing and requires 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 esthetics of the natural tooth. 

Dentists may recommend crowns for your front teeth in the event of the following cases:

  • After root canal treatment
  • Severely worn down enamel/dentin 
  • After a failed filling
  • Trauma, resulting in significant tooth structure loss 

Veneers vs. Crowns Cost

Veneers can cost between $925 and $2,500 (per tooth). Crowns can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,500 per tooth.

Both veneers and crowns can be costly without dental insurance. Veneer fees will vary based on the following factors:

  • Location of the tooth
  • Dental office demographic
  • Material used

Porcelain veneers are more costly than composite or snap-on veneers.

Dental crowns cost will range based on several factors:

  • The material used to fabricate the crown
  • The type of dentist: general dentist or specialist (prosthodontist or cosmetic dentist)
  • Tooth location
  • Additional procedures (root canal, post, build-up, etc.)

Does Insurance Cover Veneers?

Dental insurance will typically not cover veneers because it is considered cosmetic and elective. Most dental offices will offer an in-house discount savings plan or payment plan.

Does Insurance Cover Dental Crowns?

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 being used solely for cosmetic purposes, there is a chance dental insurance will not cover it.

Summary

  • Veneers typically only cover the front portion of a tooth, while crowns cover the entire tooth
  • Veneers are cosmetic and only correct minor imperfections
  • Crowns are a tooth restoration treatment and are suitable for cases of significant missing tooth structure
  • Veneers can cost between $925 and $2,500 per tooth
  • Crowns can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,500 per tooth
Last updated on January 9, 2023
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on January 9, 2023
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Haj-Ali et al. Survey of general dentists regarding posterior restorations, selection criteria, and associated clinical problems. General Dentistry. 2005.
  2. Fasbinder, DJ. Chairside CAD/CAM: an overview of restorative material options. Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry. 2012.
  3. Pini et al. “Advances in dental veneers: materials, applications, and techniques.” Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dentistry, 2012.
  4. El-Mowafy et al. Porcelain veneers: An update. Dent Med Probl., 2018.
  5. Kassardjian et al. “A systematic review and meta analysis of the longevity of anterior and posterior all-ceramic crowns.” Journal of Dentistry, 2016.
  6. Grech, J., and Antunes, E. “Zirconia in dental prosthetics: A literature review.” Journal of Materials Research and Technology, 2019.
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