Veneers vs. Crowns: A Detailed Comparison

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The most recent statistics published by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research indicate that oral health, in general, has improved over the last few decades. More than half of adults between the ages of 20 and 60 report that they have visited their dentist in the last year, and about 25% rate their oral health as very good, or even excellent.

Nevertheless, many still believe that there is always work that can be done to improve the aesthetic aspect of their teeth.

Having just one tooth a bit crooked, chipped or discoloured is often unacceptable. For this reason, a number of people decide to undergo cosmetic dental treatment that will improve their smile. Your dentist is more likely to recommend dental veneers or dental crowns, but how can you decide between the two if they leave the decision entirely up to you?

Here’s everything you need to know about both procedures before making a final choice.

Dental Crowns

Dental crowns are designed to cover an entire tooth down to the gum, thus replacing the tooth’s outer surface, masking its imperfections. They are adequate for severely broken teeth, significantly malpositioned teeth, as well as in cases where there is high caries activity. They are also an ideal solution in cases when a decayed tooth cannot be restored with a filling, however, the tooth has to be cleared of all decay entirely before covering the tooth with a dental crown.

Procedure

If the tooth you are planning to cover with a tooth crown has more serious health issues, they will have to be resolved first. It is imperative to first remove all decay and only then take a mould of the tooth. While you are waiting for the tooth crown to be created in the lab, you will get a temporary one from your dentist. Upon your final visit, the dentist will test the position of the crown to see whether it requires slight readjustments.

Recovery

On average, it takes no more than 4 to 5 hours for the anaesthetic to wear off. Some moderate pain is expected, as well as sensitivity around the tooth treated area, so we advise you to refrain from any cold or hot beverages several days after getting a dental crown.

Should you experience any severe pain, it is best to consult with your dentist.  

How long does the crown last?

If properly adjusted and maintained regularly, you can expect a dental crown to last more than 15 years should you maintain daily flossing and brushing.

Dental Veneers

Dental veneers cover only the front surface of the tooth. Most commonly, dentists recommend tooth veneers to cover permanent tooth discolouration that cannot be treated with a whitening treatment. Veneers are also a great option when certain teeth are just moderately broken, malpositioned, or have mild-to-moderate caries.

Procedure

On your first visit, the dentist removes as much enamel needed to create space for the veneer. Next, they take a mould of the tooth to create a permanent veneer in the lab. A temporary veneer can be placed in the meantime.

When the time comes to place a permanent veneer, the tooth is first prepared for bonding. The dentist uses cement which hardens up after the application of the laser beam. Between 7 to 14 days upon the procedure you are required to schedule a checkup of the placement of the veneer and your gum response to the treatment.

Recovery

It will take around 4 to 5 hours for the numbness to wear off. It is advisable to avoid food and beverages that are too hot or cold for the next 24 hours. Other than that, you will be able to go back to your regular routine.  

Should you experience any severe pain, it is best to consult with your dentist.  

How long does the veneer last?

If properly adjusted and maintained regularly, you can expect a tooth veneer to last more than 15 years.

Bottom line

While both tooth crowns and dental veneers produce outstanding results, the two treatments differ a lot and have different applications.

 

  • Dental crown
  • Use: They cover the entire tooth and can be used for both moderate and more severe tooth damage. A dental crown represents a new outer side of the treated tooth. As a result, they can reshape the tooth completely and provide it with a significantly different colour.
  • Size: Thick and require more trimming than veneers.
  • Trimming: Depends on a specific case, but you can expect your dentist to take off at least 1 – 2 mm. Research published in The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry suggests that dentists, on average, trim away between 63 and 73% of the tooth’s anatomical crown. In fact, the greater the amount of decay, the more trimming is needed.
  • Durability: Tooth crowns are extremely durable and strong.

 

Dental veneer

 

  • Use: They cover only the front of the tooth and are used only to mask discolouration or slightly chipped or damaged teeth. They produce a slight-to-moderate change in tooth shape and colour. Veneers are adequate for teeth that are healthy.
  • Size: Veneers are on average 1 mm thick (or even less).
  • Trimming: Require far less trimming than dental crowns. Minimal-prep may require as little as 3% reduction of the anatomical crown. In more extreme cases, trimming may reach 30%. All trimming is done on the front side of the tooth, while the backside if left intact.
  • Durability: As in some instances dental veneers require little or almost no trimming at all, they are reversible.

 

Evidently, note that tooth veneers are mainly used for minor aesthetic improvements and cannot be used to save a more damaged tooth – this is where a dental crown represents a far better (that is, the only) alternative.