Do you know the difference between crowns and veneers? The main difference between crowns vs veneers is that crowns secure structurally damaged teeth while veneers are strictly cosmetic. If your teeth are discolored or have experienced some structural damage, you might want to familiarize yourself with these two procedures. Both can restore your smile, but there are important distinctions to be aware of.

What Are Crowns & Veneers?

What Are Dental Crowns?

A crown is a cap that covers the entire tooth. It may be used simply to improve the appearance of a tooth, or it may be required to support a large filling, protect a weak tooth, secure an implant, or restore a fracture. A crown is secured around the existing tooth, restoring it to its natural shape and strength.

What Are Dental Veneers?

A veneer is a thin shell that covers the front surface of a tooth to improve its appearance. Whereas a crown may support a weak or damaged tooth, a veneer is strictly cosmetic. It may be used to cover stains, chips, or unusually small teeth. Veneers are most often used to cover the top front eight teeth.

Materials Used in Crowns & Veneers

Common Dental Crown Materials

Crowns are commonly made from porcelain, ceramics, composite resin, or metal alloys. Your dentist may choose a material based on the location of the tooth, the strength of the tooth, the color of the surrounding teeth, the visibility of the tooth when you smile, and even the position of the gum tissue. Porcelain is a popular choice because it’s durable, it offers a natural look, and it’s extremely stain-resistant.

Common Types of Veneers

Most dentists recommend getting porcelain veneers because porcelain closely resembles natural tooth enamel & its durability provides years of protection despite its thin construction. Veneers can also be made out of a resin-composite material, which isn’t recommended due to weaker durability. Lumineers (a type of less invasive “no prep” veneers) are made from a patented ceramic material called Cerinate.

Crowns vs Veneers: The Procedure

Getting a Dental Crown

Crowns can typically be completed in two visits to the dentist. First, the dentist prepares the tooth by cleaning it, removing any tooth decay, and reshaping it so the crown will fit. In some cases, the dentist may also need to build up the tooth’s core. An impression of the tooth is created via traditional mold or digital scan. 

A temporary crown is placed over the tooth to protect it while the permanent crown is created. The permanent crown usually takes about 2 weeks to complete, during which your tooth may be sensitive to hot and cold sensations. When you return for the second appointment, the dentist will place the crown and make adjustments to ensure a perfect, secure fit.

Getting Dental Veneers

The dental veneer process starts with a consultation. The dentist examines your teeth to determine if you’d be a good fit for veneers. The dentist will learn more about your specific goals and schedule a follow-up appointment for prep work. 

At the second appointment, the dentist will shave a tiny portion from the surface of the tooth, take a mold of the tooth, and place temporary veneers while a lab creates your permanent veneers based on the perfect size, shape, and color for your smile.

At the third appointment, the dentist will place the permanent veneer on your tooth using dental cement to bind it to your tooth.

Comparing Cost of Crowns vs Veneers

Cost of Dental Crowns

A dental crown will cost between $1,000 and $3,500 on average. Your dental insurance may cover part of the cost if the procedure is medically necessary (such as to reinforce a weak tooth). A typical insurance policy will cover 50% of the cost, but there may be a 1- to 2-year waiting period for new policyholders.

Cost of Dental Veneers

On average, porcelain veneers cost between $925 and $2,500 per tooth. If you’re considering no-prep veneers, you can expect to pay between $800 and $2,000 per tooth. For composite veneers, the price averages $250 and $1,500 per tooth. Composite and no-prep veneers are more affordable but don’t last as long.

Comparing the Appearance of Crowns vs Veneers

Aesthetic Look of Dental Crowns

Crowns are thicker than veneers, and they surround the entire tooth. As a result, they provide greater coverage and support. On a strictly cosmetic level, though, they’re largely indistinguishable from veneers. The ultimate goal is to provide a consistent, white smile.

Aesthetic Look of Dental Veneers

Porcelain veneers are thinner than crowns (no thinner than a fingernail), and they cover only the front surface of the tooth. Their purpose is to look as natural as possible, so the average person won’t even realize you have them—just like with dental crowns.

Longevity of Crowns vs Veneers

How Long Crowns Last

With proper care, crowns should last between 5 and 15 years. Make sure to visit your dentist for all recommended checkups, practice good oral hygiene, and avoid chewing hard foods, objects, and ice cubes.

How Long Veneers Last

With proper care, porcelain veneers can last between 15 and 20 years. Composite and no-prep veneers may last 5 to 7 years on average. As with all dental installations, proper oral hygiene is critical.

Aftercare for Crowns & Veneers

Whether you have dental veneers or crowns, the proper care procedures are going to be similar.

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with an American Dental Association-approved fluoride toothpaste.

  • Visit your dentist for regular exams and cleanings.

  • Avoid unhealthy habits and compulsions like chewing on ice or pencils.

If your crown or veneer cracks or doesn’t feel right, visit your dentist immediately.

RELATED READING: Comprehensive Guide to Proper Care for Your Dental Veneers

Are Crowns or Veneers Best for You? 

If you’re just hoping to improve the look of your smile, you may benefit from dental veneers. If your teeth need a bit of extra support in addition to the aesthetic modification, you might consider dental crowns

The important thing is to speak with a dental professional about your goals. They can help you determine which—if either—procedure is right for you. It’s never been easier to achieve a better smile. It’s just a matter of knowing the best way to make it happen.

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