Dental Crowns vs Veneers: Which is the Best Option for You?

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An experienced dentist goes through Dental Crowns vs Veneers to advise which ones are right for you.

Dental crowns and veneers are two popular options for improving the look and function of your teeth. The best option for you depends on your individual needs, and largely on the condition of your natural teeth.  Understanding the differences between the crowns and veneers can help you make an informed decision.

Dental Crowns Vs Veneers

A dental crown is a whole tooth covering or cap that acts to protect and support a damaged or weakened tooth. By covering the entire tooth, they can be used to improve the appearance of discoloured or misshapen teeth.

Veneers, in contrast, cover only the front of the tooth. Rather than provide protection, veneers are used primarily for aesthetic purposes to improve the look of teeth that are chipped, stained or misaligned. 

In this article, I will explain the pros and cons of each option, and discuss their uses and cost, to help you to make an informed decision about which option is best for you.


Dental Crowns vs Veneers: What’s the Difference?

While both crowns and veneers can improve the appearance of your teeth, they are used to address different issues. Crowns are recommended for teeth that need to be strengthened or protected, while veneers are used to enhance the appearance of teeth that are otherwise healthy. Your dentist can help you determine which option is best for your individual needs.

Dental Crowns vs Veneers

When to Choose Dental Crowns

Dental crowns are used to protect the entire tooth that has been heavily filled, and at risk of breaking. The full coverage of a crown evenly distributes biting forces across the surface of a tooth, and in doing so, prevents the underlying tooth from breaking. 

Crowns can also be used to improve the appearance of a tooth, as they can be made to match the colour and shape of your natural teeth.

Dental crowns are often the better choice when the tooth has significant damage or decay, or when the tooth has undergone a root canal procedure. Crowns are also recommended when the tooth has a large filling or has been weakened by multiple fillings, as they provide additional support and protection for the remaining tooth structure.

Indications for dental crown:

  • If a tooth has been damaged by trauma
  • If a tooth has been heavily filled due to decay 
  • If a tooth has been weakened by root canal treatment 

Crowns can also be used to correct bite problems or to improve the appearance of misshapen or discoloured teeth. They are a good option for patients with bruxism or teeth grinding, as they are more durable than veneers and can withstand the forces of grinding and clenching.

However, dental crowns require more tooth preparation than veneers, as a larger portion of the tooth must be removed to accommodate the crown. This can weaken the tooth and increase the risk of future problems, so it is important to discuss the pros and cons with your dentist before making a decision.

Overall, dental crowns are a versatile and durable option for restoring damaged or weakened teeth, but they may not be the best choice for every patient. Your dentist can help you determine whether a crown or veneer is the better choice for your specific needs and goals.

What are dental crowns made from?

There are several types of dental crowns available, including:

  • Metal Crowns: Made of precious or non-previous metals, these crowns are durable and long-lasting, but are often not preferred for visible teeth due to their metallic appearance. They are used mainly on posterior teeth which need protecting.
  • Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal Crowns: These crowns have a metal base with a porcelain coating, providing a more natural appearance. However, they can be prone to chipping or cracking over time.
  • All-Ceramic Crowns: Made entirely of ceramic, these crowns provide the most natural appearance and are ideal for front teeth. However, they require the most preparation of natural teeth, and are generally the most expensive. 

How long does it take to have dental crown made?

A dental crown typically requires two visits to the dentist. If you’re having anterior cosmetic crowns, you may also have a visit for a trial smile before you’re booked in for tooth preparation.

During the preparation visit (usually 40-60 mins per tooth), the dentist will prepare the tooth by smoothing the margins enough that a crown will fit over it. Once prepared, impressions are taken to send to the dental laboratory for construction of the crown. A temporary crown may be placed over the tooth until the permanent crown is ready. During the second visit (around 30-60 mins), the permanent crown will be placed and cemented onto the tooth.

Make sure you check that you are happy with the appearance of the crown before it is cemented, as they can be difficult to removed once placed.


What are Veneers?

Veneers are thin, custom-made shells that cover the front surface of your teeth, to improve their appearance. They are typically made from porcelain or composite resin, and they are designed to match the colour of your natural teeth.

Veneers can be used to address a variety of cosmetic issues, such as:

  • Discoloured teeth
  • Chipped or broken teeth
  • Misaligned or irregularly shaped teeth
  • Teeth with gaps between them

The process of getting veneers typically involves two or three appointments with your dentist. During the first appointment, your dentist will prepare your teeth by removing a small amount of enamel from the front surface of each tooth. This is done to create space for the veneers and to ensure that they will fit properly. Your dentist will then take impressions of your teeth, which will be used to create your custom-made veneers.

Once your veneers are ready, your dentist will first check the fit and colour of each veneer to make sure that they look natural and match your surrounding teeth. They are then bonded to the front surface of your teeth using a special dental adhesive. 

When to Choose Veneers

When it comes to improving the appearance of your teeth, veneers are a great option. They are designed to cover the front surface of your teeth and can be used to fix a variety of cosmetic issues, including:

  • Discoloured teeth that cannot be whitened with bleaching
  • Chipped or cracked teeth
  • Misshapen or uneven teeth
  • Gaps between teeth

Veneers are especially effective for improving the appearance of your front teeth, which are the most visible when you smile. They are custom-made to fit your teeth and can be made from different materials, such as porcelain or resin composite.

One of the benefits of veneers is that they require minimal tooth preparation. Unlike dental crowns, which require the removal of a significant portion of the tooth, veneers only require a small amount of enamel to be removed from the front surface of the tooth. This makes them a less invasive option for improving the appearance of your teeth..

In some cases composite edge bonding can be used to improve the appearance of your teeth, which is a procedure which is less invasive than crowns or veneers.

How long does it take to have dental veneers made?

Veneers also typically requires 3-5 visits to the dentist. An initial consultation usually ascertains whether you are suitable for veneers. The dentist will consider your expectations, and also check where your teeth and gums are healthy enough to accommodate.

A second visit where a trial smile is carried out, where the dentist can use a lab made wax up of your new smile to temporarily show you what your final smile will look like. You may also have some photos taken to show you how the teeth will change your facial profile.

If you’re happy to proceed, on the next visit the dentist will prepare the teeth by removing a thin layer of enamel to make space for the veneers. Impressions are then taken to be sent to the lab. A temporary crown may be placed over the tooth until the permanent crown is ready. During the cementation visit (around 60-90 mins), the permanent veneers will be placed and cemented onto the teeth.

Make sure you check that you are happy with the appearance of the crown before it is cemented, as they can be difficult to removed once placed.

A good cosmetic dentist will then review your veneers 2-3 weeks later to make sure everything is as it should be.


Cost Comparison: Dental Crowns vs Veneers

When it comes to dental procedures, cost is always a factor to consider. Both dental crowns and veneers can be pricey, but the cost can vary depending on several factors, including the material used, the location of the practice, and the dentist’s experience. Here’s a breakdown of the average cost for each:

Dental Crowns: £550-£800 per tooth

Porcelain Veneers: £650-£950 per tooth

Composite Veneers: £200-£400 per tooth

Composite veneers, also known as composite bonding are generally the most affordable option (composite bonding cost), but they may not last as long as porcelain veneers. Porcelain veneers are more expensive but can last up to 15 years with proper care. Dental crowns fall somewhere in between in terms of cost.

Ultimately, the cost of dental crowns vs veneers will depend on your individual needs and budget. It’s best to consult with your dentist to determine which option is right for you and to discuss any financing options that may be available.


Procedure Comparison: Dental Crowns vs Veneers

Both dental crowns and veneers are popular cosmetic dental procedures that can improve the appearance of your teeth. However, they are different in terms of the procedure and the issues they fix. Here is a comparison of the two procedures:

ProcedureDental CrownsVeneers
ProcedureInvolves removing a significant portion of the tooth’s structure to make room for the crown, which is then cemented onto the tooth.Preparation of tooth involves removing a small amount of the tooth’s enamel to make room for the veneer, which is then bonded to the tooth.
Issues fixedDental crowns are typically used to fix teeth that are severely damaged, decayed, or discoloured. They can also be used to support a dental bridge or cover a dental implant.Veneers are typically used to fix teeth that are chipped, cracked, or discoloured. They can also be used to close gaps between teeth or improve the shape of the teeth.
MaterialsDental crowns can be made of various materials, including porcelain, ceramic, metal, or a combination of these materials. The choice of material depends on the location of the tooth, the patient’s bite, and the aesthetic preferences.Veneers are usually made of porcelain, which is durable and has a natural appearance. However, composite resin veneers are also available, which are less expensive but not as durable as porcelain veneers.

It is important to note that both procedures are irreversible, meaning that once the tooth structure is removed, it cannot be restored to its original condition.


Maintenance Comparison: Dental Crowns vs Veneers

Both dental crowns and veneers require proper maintenance to ensure their longevity and effectiveness. However, the maintenance required for each differs slightly. Here’s a comparison of the maintenance required for dental crowns vs veneers:

AspectDental CrownsVeneers
CleaningDental crowns can be cleaned just like natural teeth with regular brushing and flossing. Its best to use an electric toothbrush to avoid abrading the polished surfaces of the crowns.Veneers require gentle cleaning with a non-abrasive toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Flossing is also important to remove any food particles that may get trapped between the veneer and the tooth.
StainingDental crowns are resistant to staining, but the underlying tooth can still become discoloured over time. Avoiding foods and drinks that can cause staining, such as coffee, tea, and red wine, can help maintain the colour of the underlying tooth.Veneers are prone to staining, especially if they are made of composite resin. It’s important to avoid foods and drinks that can cause staining and to maintain good oral hygiene to prevent discolouration.
RepairIf a dental crown becomes damaged or dislodged, it may need to be replaced. However, with proper care, dental crowns can last for many years without needing repair.If a veneer becomes damaged or dislodged, it may need to be replaced. Veneers are not as durable as dental crowns and may need to be replaced more frequently.

Longevity Comparison: Dental Crowns vs Veneers

The longevity of dental crowns, veneers, and composite bonding can vary based on various factors such as oral hygiene, biting force, and the material used.

On average, dental crowns can last between 5 to 15 years (1), veneers can last between 10 to 15 years (2), and composite bonding can last between 5 to 10 years (3).

However, with proper care and maintenance, these dental restorations can potentially last longer.


In conclusion

Overall, both dental crowns and veneers require proper maintenance to ensure their longevity and effectiveness. While dental crowns are more durable and resistant to staining, veneers require more gentle cleaning and are prone to staining. It’s important to discuss the maintenance requirements of both options with your dentist to determine which is the best option for you.

If you’re thinking of having crowns or veneers to improve the appearance of your teeth, find a cosmetic dentist near you for a consultation. You can see example of their work and reviews, to pick the right dentist for you.

Picture of Dr Jarri Amini

Dr Jarri Amini

BDS (Honours) London 2012. Jarri has worked as a General Dentist in West Yorkshire for over 10 years. He firmly believes that educating patients about their oral health is one of the most impactful aspects of his job. He has worked on the NHS and in Private Practice.

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