Porcelain Veneers & Crowns

Veneers & Crowns

What's the difference between a dental crown and a porcelain veneer?

A crown encases the entire tooth, a veneer just its front side. A fundamental difference between veneers and crowns is how much of the tooth they cover over.

Crowns and veneers have their own individual set of characteristics that generally make one or the other more suitable for certain applications. Here are some of the factors dentists take into consideration when determining which one makes the better choice for a patient's case.

Dental Crowns

  • Can be used to produce a large color change for a tooth.
  • Can create significant shape changes for a tooth.
  • Are often used to rebuild and strengthen teeth that are badly broken or decayed.
  • Crowns are very strong and durable. They make a good choice in those situations where a tooth is exposed to heavy chewing or biting forces, or else forces created by tooth clenching and grinding (bruxism).
  • Placing a crown requires a significant amount of tooth reduction.
  • Once a crown has been placed on a tooth, it will always require one.

As you'll see in the next list, in comparison to crowns, which can be used to rebuild and strengthen teeth, porcelain veneers are used in applications that are typically just cosmetic in nature.

Porcelain Veneers

Crowns are stronger and used to make larger shape changes.

  • Can be used to produce a color change for a tooth. Slight to moderate changes usually give the most life-like results.
  • Can create minor shape changes for a tooth.
  • Are placed on teeth whose underlying tooth structure is generally healthy and intact.
  • Are strong but brittle. Porcelain veneers typically do best in those situations where the forces placed upon them are relatively light or passive.
  • Require much less tooth trimming than dental crowns. Some veneering situations may require no tooth reduction at all.
  • In some special instances, porcelain veneer placement may be reversible. In most cases, however, once a veneer has been placed, the tooth will always require some type of covering. This might be another porcelain or other type of veneer, or else the tooth could be further reduced and a dental crown placed.

Further reading:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23007129
http://www.animated-teeth.com/cosmetic_dentistry/t_porcelain_veneers_crowns.htm