Veneers and crowns are two of the most common ways of restoring the look and function of teeth. While they share many similarities, they are applied quite differently and have important differences.
Veneers are one of the most common and versatile treatments in dentistry. The simplest way to think of them is like a fake nail for you tooth; using a thin layer of material, they can drastically change the look and shape of your teeth.
Dental veneers can be used to treat a wide range of dental concerns, such as:
- correct crowding in the mouth
- cover badly broken teeth
- whiten badly stained teeth
- reshape teeth
- close up gaps
Veneers are usually only made out of two materials; porcelain, and dental composite.
These tend to be more affordable than porcelain veneers, and can actually be built directly onto the tooth surface. The composite is applied in layers as a paste that’s then hardened in place with a special curing light.
Composite resin is not as durable, long-lasting, or stain resistant as porcelain. Composite resin veneers generally only last 3-5 years, while porcelain can last 10-15 depending on the care taken.
Porcelain veneers are more durable and last longer than composite veneers. They have stain resistant qualities and will maintain their colour for a long time. Porcelain veneers take two sessions to complete — one to prepare the mouth, and another to place the veneer.
Where a veneer can be thought of as a fake nail, a dental crown is more like a helmet for your tooth. The crown of a tooth is the part visible above the gum — the part we use to bite and chew. When this becomes chipped, cracked, or damaged, a dental crown helps restore it to its original appearance and function.
By encasing a damaged tooth in a dental crown, you protect it from further harm. It not only looks like new, but functions like new as well. This allows you to maintain your natural teeth for as long as possible and delay, if not entirely prevent, needing to extract an overly damaged tooth.
Crowns can be made from a wide variety of materials. Porcelain is a popular option, for the same reasons listed above for veneers.
Zirconia is also a popular choice for dental crowns due to its high strength.
Crowns can also be made of gold. Gold is actually an excellent material for crowns as it’s biocompatible and incredibly durable. Gold crowns will often last longer than other types because of its superior durability.
Differences Between Veneers and Crowns
- Veneers only cover the front-facing surface of a tooth. A crown typically replaces the entire biting surface of a tooth.
- A veneer must be applied to a natural tooth. A dental crown can actually be used on a dental implant to act as a replacement for a natural tooth.
- When applied to natural teeth, veneers are typically applied to front-facing teeth while crowns are typically reserved for molars and premolars.
- Veneer cost is significantly lower than crown costs.
- While veneers and crowns can be made out of some of the same materials, there are many more materials available for crowns due to the increased force they’re put under when chewing.
- Veneers primarily serve a cosmetic role, with some restorative functionality; crowns are primarily a restorative treatment, that happen to restore appearance.