The difference between crowns and veneers

The Difference Between Crowns and Veneers

When a simple filling isn’t enough to do the trick but a whole new tooth is overkill, your dentist may recommend dental restoration in the form of a veneer or a crown. 

Both options aim to improve the look and function of your teeth, but they do so in different ways – a veneer covers only the front of the tooth, while a crown covers the whole thing.

As dental restoration of any kind is often quite costly, it’s important to understand which option may best meet your needs. Your dentist can walk you through both procedures and make personalised recommendations.

In this article, we look at the differences between veneers and crowns, as well as the pros and cons.

Understanding the differences between crowns and veneers is the first step in the process. Book an appointment with Boroondara Family Dentist today, and we can discuss the suitability of both options with you.

What is a Veneer? 

A veneer is designed only to cover the front surface of the tooth, leaving most of the original tooth intact. As such, they’re not considered as invasive as crowns.

Veneers are usually recommended for people whose teeth are unevenly spaced, broken or chipped, dark or stained, or irregularly shaped. 

The surface of the tooth needs to be roughened so that the veneer will bond to it properly, but enough enamel needs to remain for the bonding process to be successful; about half a millimetre of the enamel will be ground down. Your dentist may do this under local anaesthetic, as the grinding may be painful.

Veneer ProsVeneer Cons
It may be more aesthetically pleasing down the line (as they don’t show a gum margin after a few years)More of your tooth will be exposed to the possibility of new decay
If your tooth doesn’t require a lot of grinding, more of your healthy natural tooth remainsComposite veneers cost less but may only last 5 to 7 years (other materials may last longer but are not infallible)
Teeth with veneers tend to experience minimal movement (but you may need to wear a guard if you grind or clench your teeth at night)They aren’t reversible
Veneers aim to match your teeth in colour and resist staining

 What is a Crown? 

A crown is designed to cover the whole tooth, which requires more of the tooth to be filed or ground down. This procedure may be performed under local anaesthetic.

Crowns are usually recommended to protect weak teeth from decay or damage, restore a cracked or worn tooth, cover teeth that have severe damage, hold a dental bridge in place, or cover discoloured teeth.

If the reason for the dental restoration is tooth decay, your dentist will begin by removing the decayed section before making the crown. Depending on how much of the tooth needs to be removed, it may then need to be built up in order to support the crown. The same goes for if the restoration is the result of damage.

Crown ProsCrown Cons
The whole tooth is covered, which offers what remains greater protection from further decayMore of the natural tooth is removed to make way for the crown
Porcelain crowns tend to look and feel just like natural teethIt may be more sensitive to heat and cold at first, and you may experience gum pain
Crowns are relatively permanent and don’t have to be removed for cleaning (unlike dentures)Porcelain fused to metal alloy (PFM) crowns show a thin dark line between the crown and tooth
Can be made from several different materials (such as metal, PFM, resin, ceramic or porcelain, and pressed ceramic)Some movement may be experienced, which may change your bite and mean the crown needs to be adjusted

Choosing Between Crowns and Veneers

Ultimately, veneers are used when the goal is a cosmetic improvement (such as covering chipped or crooked teeth), whereas crowns are used when there is decay, the tooth is broken or requires a root canal. 

The best way to determine whether veneers or crowns suit your situation is to speak with your dentist.

Make an appointment with one of the friendly dentists at Boroondara Family Dentist today for a comprehensive assessment of your teeth and to explore the possibility of crowns or veneers.


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