Dental Crowns Or Veneers: Which Is Best For Your Teeth?

A dental crown fits over an entire tooth, whereas a dental veneer is bonded to the outward-facing side of the tooth. So which is a better choice for you when you need to restore a damaged or unsightly tooth?

Different Forms of Restoration

You may be inclined to ask your dentist for a veneer, as it may seem (logically) that there's less work involved. Instead of a personalized dental crown that must encompass the whole tooth, all you'll receive is a wafer-thin porcelain shell permanently bonded to the tooth's mesial surface (which is the side of the tooth that faces outwards). But dental crowns and dental veneers provide very different forms of tooth restoration.

Cosmetic Applications

Veneers are almost exclusively cosmetic. They may conceal and protect small surface cracks and chips in the tooth, yet a veneer won't correct major structural damage. A dental veneer may be made of porcelain or a laminate (acrylic) material, and it is only intended to improve the appearance of the tooth. A tooth might be misshapen, have disproportionately large gaps on either side, be or permanently discolored—in other words, it's a functional tooth with cosmetic concerns. For a cosmetic concern, a veneer may be perfectly adequate.

Clinical Repair

A dental crown is fitted over the whole tooth. It's made of incredibly strong dental ceramic, which is likely to be a variety of ceramic called zirconia, or lithium disilicate. It could also be porcelain fused to a metal base when an extra-strong crown is needed. Acrylic crowns are not provided for permanent use and are only used as a temporary restoration—when the tooth needs immediate protection until such time as its permanent crown has been manufactured.

Tooth Protection

A crown is added when a tooth needs protection. It may be damaged due to decay or an accident, meaning some of the tooth's structure has been lost or is in danger of being lost without the reinforcement of the crown. This is the primary difference between crowns and veneers—one is clinical, and the other is cosmetic. They're both tooth-colored so that the restoration looks like a natural tooth. Both restorations require that a thin layer of the tooth's surface enamel is contoured away before the crown or veneer can be bonded to it. This means that the tooth and its restoration have the same physical dimensions as the tooth did on its own.

Even though you may prefer the idea of a veneer over a crown, remember that the ultimate determination is made by your dentist. When the tooth is at risk of breakage, it may be that only a crown can restore it to its full strength.

Contact a local dentist to learn more about dental crowns.