Dental Veneers vs. Dental Crowns

If you are in need of dental treatment for a chipped, broken, or missing tooth, there are several options available to you. Understanding the difference between your options is the best way to decide which route to take. Here is a detailed overview comparing veneers vs. crowns.

But, before you start reading, know that you can get the answers you need from celebrated dentist, Dr. Pankaj Narkhede. For decades, Dr. Narkhede has been crafting the top cosmetic restorations in Orange County - and beyond. Call our Lake Forest dental office today to schedule your appointment!

Understanding veneers and crowns

If you are looking to restore the natural beauty of your teeth, strengthen your teeth, or improve your smile, you will look at various dental procedures such as crowns or veneers. Prior to having veneers or crowns, your dentist will take x-rays of your teeth. If your teeth show extensive signs of gum disease, decay, or need extensive dental work, then you would not be a good candidate for veneers.


Dental veneers are considered a cosmetic procedure that is used to cover a tooth's front surface. This procedure may involve grinding down the teeth or removal of a small amount of your tooth's enamel. There are a few different options for having the veneers applied. The most common is the traditional veneers and no-prep veneers. The materials that are used in veneers are porcelain or a composite of plastic and ceramic.

How veneers are placed

Porcelain veneers
The dentist will first prepare your teeth. This consists of taking a small amount of enamel off the front and sides of your teeth.
After the dentist prepares your teeth, a mold(impression) of your teeth is made.
While waiting for your permanent veneers to arrive from the lab, your dentist will place temporary veneers on your teeth.
When your veneers arrive back from the lab, your dentist will make adjustments to ensure a proper fit.
Your teeth will then be cleaned and the veneers will be placed with a bonding cement on your teeth or tooth.

Composite-resin veneers
Just like traditional veneers, your teeth will be prepared for a proper fit. Once this is done, the dentist bonds and sculpts the material to your teeth. A UV light is used to harden the veneers, and they will be smoothed and buffed to match your teeth.

Types of veneers
Traditional veneers- This type of veneer requires prep work. You may need to have a local anesthetic because some of the prep work can be painful. The prep work can include grinding down and/or removing part of the teeth. Traditional veneers are typically made from a wafer-thin porcelain material which is a type of ceramic.
No-prep veneers- Unlike traditional veneers, this type of veneer does not require intensive prep-work. No-prep veneers are placed in less time than traditional veneers and the enamel is the only thing affected if changes need to be made.

Materials used to make veneers
Porcelain- Longer lasting than composite resin veneers and are designed to match the color of your teeth.
Composite resin material- Made from a filling material designed to match the natural color of your teeth. Not as durable as porcelain veneers. Can last up to 7 years with proper care.

Dental Crowns

Dental crowns are a way to replace or restore teeth that are severely damaged. They are made from either porcelain, resin, metal, or ceramic and unlike veneers, they cover the entire tooth all the way up to the gumline. Crowns also referred to as caps, are used to form a "protective shell" that creates a stronger and more durable bond than a veneer.

How crowns are placed
Crowns may require more visits to your dentist's office than veneers.
Your teeth are prepared by removing the decay, removing the outer portion of your tooth, and if necessary building on the core part of your tooth for support.
A digital impression or mold is made of your tooth and sent to a lab.
A temporary crown is placed in your mouth until the permanent crown arrives. Unless your dentist has the equipment in the office to provide you with the crown the same day.
Your crown will be placed in your mouth to ensure a proper fit by making any necessary adjustments.
Once the necessary adjustments are made, your crown will be cemented to your teeth for a permanent fit.

Types of dental crowns
Onlay crowns- An onlay crown differs from a traditional crown because it does not cover the entire tooth. This type of crown is referred to as a partial crown and consists of either porcelain, ceramic, or metal materials. It is used to cover the cusps when there has been an extensive amount of damage.
Inlay crowns- covers 3/4 of the surface of the tooth. It can be made with ceramic, porcelain, or metal materials.
Traditional crowns- This type of crown covers the tooth above the gumline.

Materials used to make crowns
Metal- The types of metal materials used include, nickel, gold, palladium, and chromium. This type of crown material is normally used for back molars or teeth that cannot be seen because of the coloring of the metal.
Porcelain- This is used to match the color of your natural teeth. It can wear down the surrounding teeth but are a good fit for people allergic to the metal crowns.
Ceramic- All-ceramic crowns are used to restore the front teeth in most situations. Like porcelain crowns, they are used to match the natural color of your teeth.
Porcelain-fused-to-metal- This can be used for restoring your front or back teeth. The most common disadvantage with this type of crown is that a dark line (which is the metal) seeps through the porcelain cap, so it can be visible. This type of crown is also known to wear down teeth that come in contact with it on the top and bottom.
Resin- This type of crown is usually made from plastic and ceramic compounded composites. They aren't as durable as other crowns but they provide a less expensive solution to help restore damaged teeth.
Pressed Ceramic- This type of crown is similar to the porcelain fused to metal crown, however, it is lined with pressed ceramic. This is one of the longer-lasting types of crowns and it has the best color match to your natural teeth.

Things to Consider About Veneers and Crowns

As with any type of dental procedure that is performed, there are always advantages and disadvantages.

Veneers pros and cons

Improves, corrects, and beautifies your smile
Can fix discolorations in your teeth that can't be fixed with whitening.
Depending on the type of veneers, they can last up to 15 years.
They do not require a lot of shaping as crowns do.
The surface and material of the veneers are resistant to stains.
They have both a natural and realistic appearance.
They can change your smile by helping with dental flaws.

They can be an expensive investment, especially if you need to replace them.
They are durable yet fragile. They can easily chip or break when you eat hard foods, grind your teeth, or encounter excessive force to your veneers.
After your veneers are applied you may experience sensitivity to hot or cold because some of the enamel is removed.
May not be covered through insurance

Crowns pros and cons

Crowns can help restore the size and shape of your teeth.
Materials used to make crowns are stain-resistant.
Crowns will help strengthen teeth and prevent tooth decay.
Strong and durable. Some can last 10-15 years with proper care.
An adequate resolution to hold cracked or broken teeth together.
Used to protect and cover a tooth after a root canal

Pain or sensitivity when biting
Crowns made of porcelain can easily break or chip, requiring replacement of the crown.
Slight discomfort can be experienced after the crown is placed.
Depending on the material used for the crown, the cost can be expensive.

When to get veneers vs. crowns

There are different situations where the better option is to get a crown and vice versa. This is the importance of having a dental exam, to determine what the best option will be for your situation. You have to keep in mind that everyone has different sized and shaped teeth. However, here are some scenarios when one is better than the other.

Veneers are the best option when:

  • You have healthy and strong teeth.
  • Your dental issues are minor.
  • You are restoring stained, chipped, and minor cracks in your teeth.
  • Your teeth cannot be whitened
  • You are only looking to improve the aesthetics of your teeth and smile.

Crowns are the best option when:

  • You need root canals or bridgework done.
  • Your teeth and gums are not healthy.
  • Teeth have been damaged due to grinding.
  • Teeth are severely broken and/or cracked.
  • Your teeth are weak.
  • You grind or clench your teeth.
  • You need to reinforce the structure of your teeth, not just the appearance.

Veneers and crowns are strong and durable, however, they are prone to break and chip just like your natural teeth if they are not properly cared for. This includes proper flossing and brushing, as well as regular visits to your dentists and practicing good eating habits.

Are you ready to discover the cosmetic restoration that is best for your smile? Call Dr. Narkhede today to schedule your consultation!

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