Crowns vs. Veneers: Which Option Is Best for You?

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When it comes to achieving a perfect smile, crowns and veneers are two popular options that can transform your teeth. However, understanding the differences between these dental restorations and considering the advice of expert cosmetic dentists is crucial in making the right decision.

Chicago cosmetic dentist Dr. Nathan Hoffman explains, “Although crowns and veneers are both used to restore teeth, the two procedures are entirely different.” Crowns are utilized when a tooth’s structure is significantly compromised and requires functional correction, along with cosmetic enhancement. Veneers, on the other hand, are primarily used for cosmetic purposes when a tooth has minimal damage.

“For crowns we need to shave the tooth 360-degrees. When we prepare the tooth for veneers, we only touch the frontal side of the tooth,” explains New York cosmetic dentist Nargiz Schmidt, DDS. “This decision is usually made by a dentist based on the condition of your teeth, their position and the final goal. If a tooth has a lots of old discolored fillings or active cavities, a crown may be the best solution. If the tooth is mostly intact and the goal to make it appear lighter or improve its shape, a veneer may be best solution.” So how do we choose between crowns and veneers? Experts explain what to know.

How Crowns Are Placed

In general, crowns replace the entire portion of the tooth above the gum line, as mentioned by Charlotte, NC cosmetic dentist Patrick J. Broome, DMD. They are suitable for rebuilding significant tooth damage and can be made from various materials. “Crowns can be cemented or bonded, depending on the material used,” says Dr. Broome.

When it comes to crowns, Dr. Broome notes that they have excellent strength and durability when designed correctly. “Crown preparation is taught in all dental schools so all dentists should be familiar,” he says. “However, once tooth structure is removed, it can only be replaced by man-made products. There must be adequate tooth volume to provide support for a crown.”

How Veneers Are Placed

Veneers cover only a portion of the tooth, typically focusing on the front teeth to enhance shape, length, width, and brightness. “A tooth that is being restored with a veneer will be very lightly polished to adhere the thin ceramic to the tooth,” notes Dr. Hoffman. Veneers are made of porcelain or ceramic glass, and an adhesive bond is used to connect it to the underlying structure.

“The aesthetic outcome depends completely on the experience and planning of the doctor and the artistic ability of the laboratory artist they use,” adds Dr. Broome. “Veneer and smile design are usually not taught in dental schools. Many dentists are inexperienced and unfamiliar with veneer design requirements as well as smile design cases which typically involve the treatment of 10 to 28 teeth at one time.”

Crowns or Veneers: A Proper Evaluation

The experts we talked to emphasized that proper diagnosis and planning by an experienced dental professional are essential to determine the best smile restoration approach. “Crowns and veneers are not necessarily something a patient can choose between and will be the doctor’s job to properly diagnose what each tooth needs for proper cosmetic restoration,” Dr. Hoffman explains.

“Your dentist will choose what is best depending on the condition of your teeth and your smile goals,” adds Dr. Schmidt. “Please remember, in most cases, nobody will know if you have your smile improved with crowns or veneers. Both look very aesthetic, and your dentist should choose the best [option] for longevity and function of your smile.”

Maintenance Moves

No matter which restoration you get, Dr. Broome says maintenance is key to longevity. “Proper brushing and flossing is required to reduce the risk of recurrent decay around crowns or veneers,” he says.

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