What’s the Difference Between Veneers and Crowns?


Two of the most common dental treatments at our Gold Coast dental clinics are porcelain veneers and crowns. You may already be aware that both involve covering an existing tooth with a material such as porcelain, but what’s the difference between veneers and crowns?

We’ve put together a guide below on how each of these tooth restorations work, their benefits and drawbacks, and who they’re most suitable for so you can be better informed next time you visit the dentist!

Article Summary

  • What are porcelain veneers?
  • How do veneers work?
  • Pros and cons of veneers
  • What are crowns?
  • How do crowns work?
  • Pros and cons of crowns
  • Difference between crowns and veneers

What are porcelain veneers?

Porcelain veneers are extremely thin shells of porcelain, usually between 0.3mm to 1mm. They are hand-made and attached to the front of the tooth using a strong bonding substance to significantly improve the appearance of your smile, making them one of the most common cosmetic dental treatments.

The primary purpose of veneers is to correct aesthetic imperfections, including:

  • Chips, cracks or broken teeth
  • Stains or discolouration
  • Small teeth
  • Gaps between teeth or mildly crooked teeth

Veneers are colour matched to the surrounding teeth, so they will appear completely natural.

How do veneers work?

The veneers process is usually completed in two visits to the dentist. 

First appointment: During this visit, the tooth is prepared and the dentist will get the shade of your teeth matched. Tooth preparation for porcelain veneers can sometimes require a tiny amount of the outer surface of the tooth to be removed, at the same thickness of the veneer it will be replaced by. At Oasis Dental Studio, we are passionate about minimally invasive dentistry, so wherever possible we will aim to complete treatment without changing the structure of the underlying tooth. 

After this, the dentist will take an impression or “mould” of your teeth, and a shade guide is used to determine which colour will appear most natural. These are sent to a dental lab with any other relevant information, where the veneers are made by hand to your custom requirements.

Second appointment: Your veneers are fitted, where your dentist will place the veneers on your teeth to make sure you’re happy with the outcome, before permanently bonding in place with a strong dental adhesive.


Pros and cons of veneers

Some of the major advantages of veneers:

  • Can transform the appearance of your smile and face due to being able to correct a variety of aesthetic concerns
  • Can be minimally invasive, preserving much of the underlying tooth structure
  • Natural, realistic appearance
  • Bonding creates a strong tooth
  • Completely customised for your mouth
  • Can last many years when properly taken care of, by visiting your dentist for regular check-ups

Some of disadvantages of veneers are:

  • Veneers aren’t reversible
  • They may not be covered by health insurance
  • They can be expensive
  • Veneers can’t be whitened, and only minor adjustments can be made after being fitted

Keeping these pros and cons in mind are a few of the things you need to know before getting veneers.


What are crowns?

A dental crown or “tooth cap” is a type of tooth restoration that is approximately 2 mm thick and is placed over the entire tooth to prevent further damage and fully restore its function.

Tooth crowns are an extremely common dental treatment offered by dentists, as they can solve a variety of problems, including:

  • Protecting a weak tooth
  • Restoring a broken tooth
  • Covering misshapen teeth
  • Supporting teeth with an existing large filling
  • Protecting teeth with a high risk of becoming decayed or broken
  • Protecting a tooth after root canal treatment from splitting or being re-infected

Crowns can be made from porcelain, metal, or a combination of the two.

How do crowns work?

For the majority of cases, the dental crown process normally takes three visits to the dentist. 

First appointment: The dentist will do an examination to decide whether the tooth can support a crown, which usually requires x-rays. If there is considerable decay or high chance of infection occurring, the dentist will treat this prior to the crown being placed.

Second appointment: After being completely numbed, the tooth is filed down mainly along the chewing surface to make room for the crown. An impression of the teeth are taken, which is sent to a dental ceramist to have your final crown created. In the meantime, a temporary crown is fitted to protect the tooth. 

Third appointment: Once the crown is complete, the temporary crown will be removed and the final crown will be bonded in place with a strong dental adhesive.


Pros and cons of crowns

Some of the advantages of crowns include:

  • Crowns last a long time, most from 5 years but often between 15 – 20 years when maintaining a good oral health routine
  • They’re very strong and offer fantastic protection for a weakened tooth
  • Improves the appearance of the visible part of the tooth which was previously chipped or cracked
  • Sometimes covered by health insurance

Some of the disadvantages of crowns include:

  • Possibility of discomfort or sensitivity after preparing underlying tooth
  • Can become loose or fall off if improper fit or if the dental adhesive is washed away
  • Can be expensive

Difference between crowns and veneers

Now that we’ve discussed the pros and cons of each treatment, and how the procedures work, we can see that the main differences between veneers and crowns are:

  • Crowns are best suited to cases where the function of the tooth needs to be restored, while veneers are more suitable where it’s only the appearance that needs to be improved
  • More of the original tooth must be removed to insert a crown
  • Crowns are thicker and stronger than veneers
  • Crowns completely encase the tooth, while veneers are only placed on the front surface
  • Crowns are more often covered by health insurance than porcelain veneers as they’re a restorative treatment

If you’re still wondering “should I get crowns or veneers?”, this will depend on the condition of your teeth and the problem you need to fix. 

To find out which treatment is most suitable for your needs, it’s best to make an appointment with our Gold Coast dentists so we can examine your teeth and create a customised treatment plan together for the best outcome for your oral health!


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