Veneers or Crowns: Know the Difference

Dental Veneers: Porcelain Veneer installation Procedure. 3D illustration

There are so many dental terms that it’s easy to get them confused for each other. In recent years, two somewhat similar treatments have become increasingly popular: porcelain veneers and cosmetic dental crowns. At our Houston dental practice, Dr. Cindy Flanagan offers both services, as well as a host of other cosmetic and restorative treatments to help you enjoy a healthy, attractive smile. In addition to serving your oral health needs, our team is here to answer your questions, determine which restorations are appropriate for you, and take charge of your teeth. In the following blog, we go over the basics of veneers and crowns so you can spot the difference and know which may be right for your smile.

What Are Veneers?

Porcelain veneers are the cosmetic dental treatment of choice for many celebrities. These thin porcelain shells cover the front and, in some cases, the sides of your teeth. Since they completely conceal the visible portion of your tooth, they can immediately whiten and straighten your teeth, obscuring a variety of imperfections. Many porcelain veneers are also stain-resistant, so you never have to worry about whitening again.

What Are Crowns?

Dental crowns are porcelain restorations that cover the entirety of the tooth’s outer portion, from its chewing surface to the gum line. Crowns may be composed of metal, composite, porcelain, zirconia, or some combination of these. They fortify the treated tooth against damage and, depending on the material chosen, provide an aesthetic appearance.

The Essential Distinction

Patients often mix up porcelain veneers and dental crowns because these two treatments do share many characteristics in common. Crowns are often made in porcelain, making them look and feel similar to porcelain veneers. In addition, both can instantly enhance the appearance of the teeth onto which they are placed.

The treatment process for both is also quite similar, especially at our practice. If you want a crown or a set of porcelain veneers, Dr. Flanagan will work to customize the shape, size, and color of your restoration to your exact specifications, shape your tooth so that it can hold it well, and place it with a strong bonding agent.

Generally, porcelain veneers are used as a cosmetic treatment, while dental crowns repair and cover up the damage of decay or injury. However, with crowns becoming ever more aesthetic, some patients utilize crowns for cosmetic purposes.

The true distinction between these restorations is simple. As Animated Teeth explains, “the fundamental difference between veneers and crowns is how much of the tooth they cover over. Crowns typically encase the entire tooth. Veneers only cover over a tooth’s front surface (the side that shows when the person smiles).”

Which Should You Choose?

If you’d like to improve the appearance of your teeth with one of these restorations, Dr. Flanagan will conduct a thorough examination, discuss your preferences with you, and make a recommendation. Each patient’s treatment plan is customized.

In general, you may be a good candidate for porcelain veneers if you:

  • Have mild to moderate cosmetic damage, such as staining, slight crookedness, mildly over- or undersized teeth, thin cracks, or small chips.
  • Want to preserve as much of your tooth enamel as possible in the process of placing a restoration. Only a small amount of enamel must be removed to place porcelain veneers.
  • Do not suffer from decay or gum disease in the affected teeth (or are able to completely treat this before beginning the porcelain veneers preparation and placement process).
  • Want to address several, many, or all of your teeth with this treatment.

In contrast, you may be a good candidate for a dental crown if you:

  • Suffer from decay or gum disease.
  • Are dealing with more extensive damage that affects the entirety of the tooth.
  • Have a weakened tooth structure that requires a stronger restoration to stabilize.
  • Want to handle damage or aesthetic issues with a single tooth.

Dr. Flanagan will go over these factors and many more at your initial consultation to help you make your decision.

Want to Learn More About Veneers and Crowns?

Dr. Flanagan and our team would be happy to further discuss the differences between these treatments with you so you can choose which may be correct for you. Contact our Houston dental practice today and schedule an appointment!

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