Which is the right choice for you – veneers or crowns? They are both types of dental restoration techniques that help restore proper bite and give you a complete tooth. A veneer covers the front surface of your tooth while a crown is a cover over the whole tooth.  Veneers are often made from porcelain, while crowns can be made from porcelain, resin, or metal.

What to know about veneers vs. crowns

Sometimes you have something that happens to a tooth that requires a significant repair.  Your dentist may recommend a veneer or a crown for your dental restoration.  But what is the difference? What should you know about veneers vs. crowns?  Let’s take a little time to learn more about them so you can make an informed decision with your dentist.

What are veneers?

Dental veneers are affixed to the front of your tooth and are made from porcelain.  They are a very thin layer – only one millimeter thick. When might you need a veneer?  Here are some reasons:

  • Chipped teeth or cracked teeth
  • A discolored tooth that doesn’t clean up with a professional cleaning
  • Crooked teeth (particularly true for front teeth)

What are crowns?

A crown is a porcelain or resin cover over your natural tooth that helps fix an underlying problem and give you protection against further damage.  The crown is glued to your natural tooth and caps the tooth. It helps give strength to the tooth and give your smile a more balanced look.  It can also make your ability to chew a lot easier.

The dental crown material is tooth colored. If you want a crown for your front teeth, your dentist will probably use porcelain, since it looks a lot like your tooth enamel.  For molars, he or she may use a hybrid material for strength.

Your dentist will make sure to match the color of your tooth to the crown so it will look invisible. That means if you want to have a whitening procedure done, you should do that first so that the crown can be matched to the new color, otherwise it will be darker and look out of place.  The porcelain does not respond well to whitening treatments.

When it comes to your front teeth, it is very common to have crowns used for restoring teeth and only very rarely for cosmetic dentistry. Let’s look at some reasons why you would need a crown on a front tooth.

  • You have some significant decay in the tooth
  • You have a large crack in the tooth
  • Your tooth is completely broken
  • The dental crown is the final cover after a root canal

When it comes to your molars, to add more strength to the crown, the porcelain or resin may be affixed to a metal base or the crown might be made of metal entirely.

What is the process of getting veneers?

The process of getting veneers is not as extensive as it would be for a crown.  You will probably be given a local anesthetic first. Your dentist will grind off a bit of the tooth enamel to create a better surface for the veneer to attach to.  Your dentist will then make a mold of your teeth so he or she can make a perfect custom fit veneer to cover the front of your tooth.

You may be given a temporary veneer to protect the tooth until your permanent one is crafted. When you are ready for the permanent one, your dentist will affix it using dental cement to the front surface of your tooth and then use UV light to help bond it. You may be sent home with a mouth guard to protect your new investment if you grind your teeth while you sleep.

What is the process of getting crowns?

Crowns cover your tooth completely so there is a different process. When you go in for a dental crown, your dentist will need to do some additional work compared to getting a veneer.  He or she will start with an anesthetic so you don’t feel the process. You may have to have some decay removed, and your dentist will need to do more grinding of the tooth, known as tooth reduction, to give the crown a surface to attach to.

If you have had some tooth removed due to cleaning out the decay, your dentist will probably help rebuild that surface first.  If s/he was able to get an impression of your tooth at a prior visit, the crown will be made and ready for you to have put on at this visit. If not, the impression will be taken at this visit and then you will have a temporary crown for a while.  Your permanent crown will be cemented in place.

How can I pay for veneers or crowns?

These procedures are not cheap. If you are getting a veneer as a cosmetic enhancement, it will probably not be covered by your dental insurance.  Porcelain veneers will run between $1,000 and $2,500 per tooth, while resin veneers are $250 to $1,500 per tooth.

A crown on the other hand will cost between $1,000 and $3,500 a tooth, depending on what material you choose and how much reconstruction needs to be done.  A metal crown will be cheaper than a porcelain one will be.

You can ask your dentist if they offer payment plans that can help spread out the cost of the procedure, or you can check out a dental school that needs to give students the chance to learn how to do crowns and veneers.  This is often a much less expensive option, and rest assured, you will be in excellent hands.  Dental students work with skilled dentists.

What do I need to do to care for a crown?

Your crowns and veneers are pretty sturdy, but you will need to be sure to take good care of them so that they will last.  This means brushing and flossing daily and going to your dentist every six months to get a checkup and also to give your dentist a chance to look at the crown and ensure that it is staying in place and not breaking down, and that the underlying tooth structure is solid. You should use a gentle toothpaste to keep from scratching your new crown or veneer.

This also means you should avoid doing certain things so that your dental crown or veneer will not get damaged or stained.  This includes:

  • Chewing on pen caps
  • Chewing on pencils
  • Eating ice cubes
  • Eating hard candy
  • Biting your nails
  • Drinking coffee and tea or red wine

So, veneers vs. crowns – which one is right for you?  A dental crown is great for a tooth that has more chipped cracked damage or a root canal, while a veneer is more for cosmetic reasons or for correcting a crooked tooth.  There are some cost differences to consider also, since many insurance companies will not cover the procedures.  They both can help protect your tooth or teeth and restore your smile.

 

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