Do you dream of upgrading your smile but aren’t sure where to start? Veneers and dental crowns are two popular restorative treatments that can transform the look and function of your teeth in different ways. While we’ve compared them on a basic level before, let’s take a deeper dive into the specific cases and scenarios where one may be preferable over the other.
Understanding all the details around durability, aesthetics, prep work, and placement procedures of veneers vs. crowns will help you make the optimal choice for your unique smile goals and oral health needs. Read on as we thoroughly outline the many factors to consider and compare specific situations that favor veneers or crowns.
A Complete Overview of Dental Veneers
Dental veneers are ultra-thin, custom-made shells of porcelain or composite resin that are permanently bonded to the front of teeth. During a minimally invasive procedure, a small amount of enamel is removed from your original tooth (about .5mm) and a veneer is adhered over it using a strong resin cement.
Veneers are most ideal when you want to:
- Improve mildly crooked, chipped, or irregularly sized/shaped teeth
- Close minor gaps or spaces between front teeth
- Replace old discolored fillings that detract from your overall smile esthetics
- Whiten and brighten stained or discolored enamel caused by age, food/drinks, smoking, medications
- Change the length and proportionality of teeth (making them look longer or more rounded)
- Generally enhance the esthetics, symmetry, and light reflection of your smile
Because they conserve more of your natural tooth structure, veneers provide dramatic cosmetic improvements with very little removal of original enamel. In most cases, the veneer procedure can be completed in just 2-3 dental visits spaced closely together.
A Complete Overview of Dental Crowns
Unlike thin veneer shells, dental crowns are solid caps made from porcelain, ceramic, resin, or metal alloys that are custom-designed to fully surround the entirety of damaged or decayed teeth down to the gum line.
During the procedure, the dentist will use a drill to file down the original tooth structure in order to make room for the artificial crown. Once adequately prepared, an impression is taken and temporary crown is placed. A permanent crown designed for ideal fit, shape, and color is then cemented over the natural tooth 2-3 weeks later.
Crowns are recommended when you have:
- Significant tooth decay, trauma, or breakdown that requires major restoration
- Large, old filings that are better replaced fully with a strong crown
- Cracked, fractured, or badly worn teeth in danger of worsening without reinforcement
- Severely discolored internal tooth structure that needs coverage with an artificial crown
- A recent root canal procedure that requires protecting and strengthening of the now pulpless tooth with a full coverage crown
Because they involve removing more of your natural enamel and replacing it with artificial materials, crowns provide a more durable, long-lasting restoration than veneers. However, the crown procedure does take longer, typically requiring 2-3 visits spaced weeks apart rather than days.
Key Factors that Favor Choosing Dental Veneers
There are several advantages that make veneers preferable over crowns in certain situations:
- You Want Fast Cosmetic Results – Because they don’t require as much tooth reduction and lab work, veneers can often be placed in as little as 1-2 visits spaced closely together. Crowns involve more drawn-out steps like impressions, temporaries, and lab fabrication.
- You Have Mildly Misshapen or Misaligned Teeth – Veneers are well-suited for masking mild imperfections like slightly gapped, uneven, crooked, or chipped teeth. They “reshingle the roof” rather than rebuilding the entire structure like crowns.
- Your Natural Tooth Structure is Relatively Healthy – If enamel and dentin are intact without major decay or previous large restorations, veneers help retain more of your natural tooth because less drilling is required. They bond as a thin overlay.
- You Want Significant Tooth Shade Change – Both options can lighten, but porcelain and composite veneers allow your dentist to match very bright, white colors not possible with natural underlying tooth structure. Veneers enable drastic whitening.
- You Dislike the Look of Metal Dental Work – Veneers are translucent white/tooth-colored for seamless blending with surrounding teeth. Some metal-based crowns have visible metal margins at the gumline you wish to avoid.
Key Factors that Favor Choosing Dental Crowns
Just as there are advantages to veneers in certain cases, crowns are the superior choice in other scenarios:
- You Have Severely Damaged or Decayed Teeth – Unlike veneers which bond to remaining enamel, crowns fully encase and protect fractured, rotten, or badly broken down tooth structure. If the damage extends deeper than surface level, crowns become necessary.
- You Need Increased Tooth Strength – Crowns provide reinforcement against cracks and fractures. Veneers offer minimal functional strength gains. For this reason, crowns are standard after root canals which weaken inner tooth structure.
- You Have Bruxism or Teeth Grinding Issues – Durable crowns withstand powerful crushing/shearing forces from severe grinding much better than thin veneers over time. Crowns prevent grinding damage.
- You Want a Permanent Restoration – Properly cared for, crowns easily last 30+ years. Veneers are more susceptible to chipping/dislodging and may need repairs after 10-20 years. Crowns provide lifelong restoration.
- You Have Dark Tetracycline Antibiotic Staining – While veneers can whiten externally, very dark intrinsic stains often require masking with full coverage crowns rather than facial overlays.
Always Consult Your Dentist First
While we’ve outlined some general guidelines and factors above, only your own dentist can make an appropriate recommendation based on a thorough in-person exam of your oral condition. There are many cases where a combination approach is taken – like using crowns only on back damaged teeth plus veneers on front ones needing aesthetic improvement. Scheduling a visit allows an expert assessment of your unique needs.
During the consultation, be ready to openly discuss:
- The specific cosmetic and functional issues you hope to improve in your smile
- Your overall oral health history, existing conditions, and risk factors
- Your timeline expectations, budget limits, and insurance coverage availability
- Desired outcomes in terms of longevity and durability of treatment
With all your dental records, health considerations, and goals on the table, your dentist can better advise if all veneers, all crowns, or a mix of both is right for your situation. Never be afraid to ask lots of questions!
Caring for Veneers and Crowns Properly
To get the maximum lifespan and enjoyment from your smile restorations, practicing excellent daily home care is critical:
Veneer Care Tips
- Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive fluoride toothpaste to avoid scratching
- Floss very gently along the edges with thin floss to avoid loosening or popping off the veneer bonds
- Use only veneer-safe teeth whitening products to avoid damaging their enamel facade
- Protect veneers from damage by avoiding teeth clenching/grinding and chewing on hard objects
Crown Care Tips
- Brush normally but avoid excessive scrubbing pressure directly on your dental crown margins
- Use specialized flossing tools to clean carefully along crown edges and under margins
- Maintain professional cleanings every 6 months to allow polishing and monitoring by your dentist
- Wear a nightguard if needed to prevent grinding that could crack or dislodge crowns
See your dentist immediately if a veneer or crown feels loose, looks damaged or fractured, or falls out completely. Most damaged or lost restorations can be repaired or replaced as needed. But prompt attention prevents further issues.
Schedule a Consult to Transform Your Smile
If you’re ready to revitalize your smile with veneers, crowns, or a combination, let’s schedule a consultation today. Our experienced dentists will examine your teeth and help determine which option is best suited for your individual oral health needs and cosmetic goals. With proper planning and care, you’ll be smiling brighter and more confidently in no time!