Crowns or Veneers? Which one is right for me?
If you’re considering options for your dental treatment, especially in cosmetic dentistry, crowns and veneers are two fantastic options that you may be given which can improve your appearance and keep you smiling for years. However there are differences and here is some information that may help you when talking to your dentist about these choices.
What are crowns and veneers?
Crowns and veneers are both types of dental restoration. They work by adding a covering to an existing tooth to improve its appearance or function. The main differences are how much of the original tooth is removed, how thick the material covering the tooth is, and how much of the tooth is covered. Both crowns and veneers can be used in cosmetic solutions to change shape, colour and appearance.
A veneer is made of exceptionally thin porcelain and is usually bonded to the front of a tooth. The porcelain is color-matched to your natural teeth, or if they have been whitened first to your new colour. Veneers are strong but brittle, and sharp or repeated impacts can dislodge or crack them.
A crown encases the entire tooth. It can be made of metal, porcelain or a combination of both. At The Curve Dental Clinic, we aim to be metal free and so our crowns are now made of a super strong ceramic known as zircon which is as tough as metal but is much more aesthetic and biocompatible. As a result of the extra preparation, a crown is usually around double the thickness of a veneer, making it more durable and resistant to cracking than a veneer.
Differences in tooth preparation
Veneers are a more conservative treatment than crowns. Less of the tooth needs to be removed in order to place a veneer; usually just a thin layer of tooth enamel from the front of the tooth. In the right circumstances some veneers can even be done with no preparation at all.
Crowns require between 60% and 70% of the existing visible tooth to be trimmed away before the crown is placed. This typically means two to four times as much tooth reduction as veneers.
As cosmetic dentistry and material get better and we strive to be minimally invasive, there is sometimes a grey area in the preparation required for veneers and crowns. Occasionally, in situations where veneers are being used to correct alignment, teeth being prepared for veneers may be accompanied with the more aggressive trimming characteristic of crowns. This can create some confusion between which type of treatment is being used. These days we will strive to get the optimal result whilst preserving as much natural tooth tissue as possible.
When are veneers the optimal choice?
Veneers are a great choice when the issues you want to address are relatively minor and aesthetic in nature. Veneers are an excellent solution for problems such as badly stained teeth, chipped teeth, minor cracks in teeth, small gaps between the teeth and superficial misalignment. In these cases, veneers can significantly improve the overall colour and regularity in appearance of the teeth, delivering a much-improved smile.
Except in some very specific circumstances, once a veneer has been applied to a tooth, it will always require covering going forward. You might need a replacement veneer, or the tooth could be further reduced allowing the placement of a crown. Veneers are just as permanent as a crown and shouldn’t be chosen on the basis that they are either temporary or reversible. It’s not like putting false fingernails on!
When are crowns the optimal choice?
Crowns are typically needed instead of a veneer when there are more fundamental issues with existing teeth. These situations include teeth that are badly broken or cracked, where the tooth has already got an existing big filling or where root canal treatment has been needed. The crown is used to keep the tooth intact and protect it from any further damage that might lead to a significant fracture and ultimately, extraction. Once the crown is cemented firmly into place, it becomes the new outside surface for the tooth with the core of the original tooth safely inside.
Another situation where crowns can be better choice than veneers is where the edge of the tooth has been damaged by grinding as a crown will always take any load better than a veneer in this circumstance.
Crowns are effective solutions for damaged teeth and can deliver a significant change in both the colour and shape of existing teeth. Once a crown has been placed, the tooth will always require some sort of covering.
Maintaining your perfect smile
With proper care, your veneers or crowns should last for approximately ten years or even longer. The porcelain used for veneers and crowns is reasonably stain-resistant, but without proper brushing and flossing, they can still become discolored. Whitening and bleaching treatments don’t work on these sorts of restorations, so it’s particularly important to maintain oral hygiene and good eating habits and if you want a whiter smile to discuss this with your dentist BEFORE you have the crowns or veneers done! It’s also important to take care not to damage your crowns and veneers by biting on hard substances so that you prolong their lifespan and your beautiful smile.