Dental Veneers vs Crowns

It’s not always easy to determine the best course of action for your oral health. When dental repair is needed thanks to cracked, damaged, or severely decayed teeth, some patients aren’t sure what treatment is most effective. While many have heard of crowns and veneers used to repair teeth, the details of each procedure may be difficult to pin down. When looking at the differences between dental veneers vs crowns, it’s important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each. 

At Best Impression Dental, we feel it’s important that our clients understand their treatment plans. Making a decision about dental health isn’t always straightforward, and that’s why our staff is on hand to answer any questions you may have. If you are interested in learning how dental veneers and crowns can help improve your smile, call our Forked River, NJ dental office today to schedule an appointment.

Understanding Veneers

A smile can give many people the confidence they need to face their day, but what happens when front teeth are a cause for concern? Irregular, misaligned, and damaged incisors would make anyone wary to flash their pearly whites. Dentists can take care of many issues by using dental veneers, a technique that has been both a successful and popular solution for decades.

Like the wooden kind found on furniture, dental veneers are a covering placed over your teeth to hide any cosmetic abnormalities. The procedure typically uses pre-formed porcelain veneers or a composite resin that is applied in a single session. Dentition problems that the technique addresses include:

  • Front teeth suffering from extreme decay
  • Repairing gaps and spaces
  • Fixing cracked/chipped teeth
  • Reshaping malformed dentition
  • Providing camouflage for permanent stains

Because they cover the surface of a tooth, veneers aren’t the best solution for teeth that are severely damaged or need a lot of additional structure to hold them together. Patients with molar and premolar issues may wish to use an alternate solution, but those looking to rework their smiles usually see positive results using veneers.

Veneer Application Procedure

Applying veneers is a bit more involved than slapping a porcelain cover over an existing tooth. In order to make the repair look and feel natural, your dentist will first have to reshape your natural teeth to better fit the veneer. By shaving off a small amount of enamel, there is enough space to glue the veneer in place. This step is necessary for composite veneers as well since the doctor will need to build up and manipulate the resin so it looks like your other teeth.

Veneers are color-matched to the rest of your dentition. This helps to avoid the unnatural look that many people associate with false or capped teeth. If your new porcelain veneers are still being prepared, it is possible that the doctor will place temporary covers onto your teeth. This will help to protect them while you wait and will also lower the sensitivity brought on by the procedure.

Even though they rework and reshape dentition, veneers do not protect a tooth in its entirety. While a porcelain or composite veneer protects the enamel and pulp underneath it from getting a cavity, the rest of the tooth still can. This leaves the back and possibly sides open to the bacteria and other decay-causing substances in your mouth. Even though a patient has partial false teeth, proper brushing and oral hygiene is still very important.

Dental Crown Breakdown

While veneers cover and reshape one surface of the tooth, crowns encompass natural dentition in its entirety. Capping the tooth not only improves its look but also strengthens and protects it as well. They are thicker and more durable, made to handle the everyday stresses associated with biting and chewing, making them an excellent pick for patients who need dental work towards the back of the mouth. 

To ensure they maintain their strength, crowns come in a variety of materials. Each of these has advantages and drawbacks all its own.

  • All Metal: These crowns are fashioned from non-reactive metal such as stainless steel, gold, or titanium. While extremely durable, these options are generally more noticeable because they cannot be blended in with natural dentition.
  • Porcelain: Like veneers, porcelain crowns are strong and can easily be color-matched to your other teeth. Unfortunately, they aren’t as durable as metal ones and may need replacing sooner.
  • Porcelain-covered Metal: This composite option combines the strength of metal and the look of porcelain into a very durable false tooth. After a time, some patients may find that the alloy’s darker color may be seen at the gum line which can be a downside that clients may wish to avoid.
  • Resin: While weaker than other types, resin crowns have the advantage of being quicker to produce and are generally cheaper than their counterparts.

Choosing the best material can help your smile look great for a long time. No matter which option you choose, the crown will most likely need to be manufactured off-site by a lab professional, which may take some time to complete.

The Crowning Procedure

Like veneers, teeth need to be prepared for crowns. However, because they cap teeth in their entirety, more enamel needs to be removed from around the tooth. Dentists prefer to keep as much of your natural dentition as possible, and a crown is generally a better choice for repairing damaged teeth than having them excised. Some reasons you might make an excellent candidate for crowns are:

  • Keeping cracked teeth in shape
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Covering exposed pulp from broken dentition
  • Hiding misshapen teeth
  • Covering permanent staining
  • Supporting other dental work (bridges, implants)

Your doctor will take initial x-rays to better understand how your dentition looks both at and below the gumline. Shaving enamel from all sides of the tooth will make room for the cap, though the material used will determine how much needs to be removed. Since many crowns need to be made in a lab at a separate location, your dentist will put a temporary cover over the affected tooth until the permanent crown is ready. A few weeks later when the piece is ready, your dentist will install the false tooth in a separate visit.

Veneers vs Crowns

Many patients need more information on both techniques when choosing their oral health care treatments. Here are some additional questions that may help you decide which choice is right for you.

Which lasts longer? Traditionally, crowns are the more durable option. Because they are made to protect the underlying tooth, crowns can handle a bit more punishment than their surface-covering counterparts. Even so, both methods can easily last between 10 and 15 years with the proper oral hygiene regimen.

Which is more expensive? Veneers are essentially cosmetic improvements to your teeth. They hide gaps, wear, staining, and damage that may be unsightly but might not pose an overall risk. Crowns are used to protect dentition, so insurance companies are more likely to subsidize their use. In addition, veneers are very thin and use much less material than crowns.

Can front crowns look natural? Most often a veneer is used to repair incisors and canines, though in some instances damage is too severe for such a procedure. However, crowns can be used on front teeth as well and can look just as natural as the original dentition thanks to precise shaping and color matching.

Do I need to take special care of my veneers or crowns? Replacement teeth are crafted specifically to handle the wear and tear of every-day use. Patients just need to maintain good oral hygiene in order to keep their crowns and veneers looking like new. Even so, it would be beneficial to avoid extremely hard foods and materials that might cause them, as well as your natural teeth, to crack or chip. A mouth guard may also be a good idea for clients who grind their teeth while sleeping, an act that puts undue stress on crowns and veneers.

Does either procedure damage your teeth? Because both methods involve removing some enamel to make room for a replacement cover, they are considered permanent solutions to dental problems. Even so, to suggest that the procedures damage teeth is erroneous. Crowns and veneers are designed to specifically repair teeth, and though some of the dentition is shaved away the end result is a healthier, happier mouth!

Can veneers and crowns be whitened? Color matching the outer layers of crowns and veneers is important because once they are tinted, they cannot be whitened. This is because the materials used resist staining and discoloration. Remember that, if you decide to whiten your teeth after having crowns or veneers installed, they aren’t going to match the false dentition in your mouth.

Taking care of your smile is a great way to instill confidence and help make you feel great. If you have more questions about the debate between veneers vs crowns, contact Best Impression Dental today. The experienced staff at our Forked River, NJ office are ready to give you all of the information you need. Call to schedule a consultation to take your first steps towards a shining smile!

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