Patients often ask what is the difference between a porcelain veneer, crown, and composite veneer? They also want to know which is the best option for their teeth? In this article, I’ll review the difference between a veneer and a crown as well as highlight which is best for you.
First off, everyone is different and your decision needs to be based on what fits your needs best. Here are some things to consider:
- The primary concern of your teeth
- Your overall goals
- Color stability
- Any prior restorations
- Amount of natural tooth structure
First off, veneers restorations can be of a resin or composite material, similar to what is used to place white fillings. They can also be made of porcelain or a stronger zirconia material.
Sometimes veneers require removal of a small amount of tooth structure while other times they can be placed directly over your existing tooth without any tooth removal.
On the other hand, crown restorations require removal of more tooth structure in order to create enough space for the crown to be placed so that it is not too bulky.
For a front tooth, materials are either all porcelain or porcelain fused to metal. The full porcelain option provides the best esthetics, but there are times when porcelain to metal restoration may be indicated. In particular, I recommend it when patients have a very tight bite where there is minimal space between the upper and lower teeth. Also, a person who grinds heavily may be best with a zirconia restoration that has increased strength.
Furthermore, porcelain and zirconia restorations have better color stability and strength than resin restorations. However, resins are a bit less abrasive to natural teeth than the former.
Veneers vs crowns
Honestly, both crowns and veneers are fantastic options! Below is a breakdown of which option works best in various situations.
Veneers are great for the following:
- Improving tooth alignment where discrepancies are minimal
- Teeth are mostly intact
- Your bite is tight (because it is better to have natural teeth on natural teeth)
- Existing tooth color is acceptable
Crowns are best in the following situation:
- Half the tooth or more is currently restoration
- A tooth has had a previous root canal therapy
- You want to change the tooth color due to internal staining (i.e. tetracycline staining)
Other things to consider
There are times when a combination of veneers and crowns are used to achieve the desired goal. Also, when alignment is the primary concern, consider orthodontic treatment. It is always best to keep as much of your own tooth structure as possible.
Trauma to one or more front teeth presents a different set of circumstances to consider. In this situation, the most conservative treatment that provides good esthetics with minimal invasiveness to the tooth is best. Usually this will be the placement of a resin (white filling) to bring the tooth back to contour. This allows the tooth to be monitored over time to assess any changes to the vitality (health of the nerve) over time. Once the tooth appears to be stable, a discussion can ensue to determine if a crown or veneer is recommended or if the existing resin is acceptable.
With teens and young adults, direct resins are a nice option as they are the least invasive. Since this group is still growing, it gives time for the dentition to stabilize at which time veneers and crowns can be reassessed.
Crowns and veneers, or any restoration for that matter, should never be considered a permanent fix. Because there is never a perfect seal between tooth and restoration, there is always the potential for decay to develop or for the restoration to come off. That is why taking care of your teeth is so important.
Honestly, intact teeth are as perfect as it gets. The earlier in life that any restoration is done, the more times it will need to be replaced which imposes more trauma to your teeth.
In summary, if you’re interested in getting a crown or veneer, you now have a lot of great information to consider! Before making your decision, make sure to discuss any desires or concerns you have with your dentist. From there, you both can come up with the best treatment plan to fit your needs.