Porcelain Veneers and Crowns?

If you want to restore or improve your smile, two options are dental crowns and porcelain veneers. Crowns and porcelain veneers both achieve similar cosmetic results, but the two procedures are very different and therefore have different applications.

A Women smiling

Crowns generally encase an entire tooth and are much thicker than veneers, which are fitted onto the front surface of a tooth. Crowns are often used for teeth that have suffered serious loss of structure or to replace missing teeth.

The fitting of veneers – popular with celebrities – is a cosmetic process that conceals unsightly problems. Crowns are considered cosmetic when used simply to make teeth look more attractive, but also play an important role in restoring functionality of damaged teeth.

How Do Veneers Work?

Porcelain dental veneers are appearance-enhancing wafer-thin shells of tooth-colored material that cover the front of teeth. The shells, which are custom-made, are bonded to teeth to improve their shape, size, color or length.

Porcelain veneers are more stain-resistant than their resin composite counterparts and replicate the light-reflecting properties of natural teeth better. They’re used when teeth have become worn down, chipped or broken, or are misaligned or have gaps between them. Dr. Ogata from Smile Hawaii adds, “Dental veneers are a great way to re-shape your smile without the need for more invasive dentistry interventions.”

Veneers typically last for up to 15 years and require no special oral health care, although a non-abrasive fluoride toothpaste is recommended to avoid damaging the shells.

How Do Crowns Work?

Crowns also called caps, repair teeth that have been broken or weakened by decay or a large filling. They can also be used to cover a filling that’s become discolored; when a tooth needs protection after a root filling; or to help secure a bridge or denture.

Crowns are generally custom-made and come in a variety of different materials, including porcelain, ceramic, glass, and gold and other metal alloys. They’re fixed over the remaining part of a tooth with dental cement or similar adhesive, which forms a seal to hold the crown in place.

Crowns can be kept clean with normal brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, which will help to prevent decay where the edge of the crown meets the tooth. With proper care, a crown can last for up to 15 years, like veneers.

Pros and Cons of Porcelain Veneers

Veneers look very realistic because they’re customized for each patient to match the shape and color of adjacent teeth. Being semi-transparent, veneers also react to light just like dental enamel.

Other benefits of porcelain veneers include:

  • A natural appearance.
  • Stain resistance.
  • Making dark teeth appear lighter colored.
  • Gum tissue tolerates porcelain well.

Disadvantages of porcelain veneers:

  • Irreversible process.
  • Usually irreparable if they chip or crack.
  • Possible increased sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks (because some enamel has been removed).

Pros and Cons of Crowns

Dental crowns are a highly-effective long-term option for repairing damaged teeth, and they have a high success rate.

Advantages of crowns include:

  • Supporting a tooth severely damaged by decay.
  • Protection of a tooth after root canal work.
  • Holding a badly-cracked tooth together.
  • Covering a dental implant.

Disadvantages of crowns include:

  • Possible discomfort shortly after the procedure.
  • Crowns, particularly porcelain caps, can occasionally chip.
  • The dental adhesive may wash away, loosening the crown.

Are Porcelain Veneers Right for Me?

If your teeth are basically healthy but showing signs of natural wear and tear-stained or chipped, for instance – porcelain veneers may well be the answer. Veneers can also address issues such as slight gaps between teeth, minor crowding, and bite-related problems.

It can be possible to prepare teeth for veneers without an anesthetic, and very little tooth structure is lost during the procedure. Another advantage of porcelain veneers is that they’re more resistant to staining than natural teeth.

Veneers are more expensive than composite resin bonding, and, although they’re robust, they can be damaged by activities like biting your fingernails or chewing on pencils or ice. Once cemented, the color of the veneer cannot be changed.

If you clench or grind your teeth, veneers may not be for you, as excessive pressure can chip or crack the porcelain shells. However, your dentist may recommend a nightguard to protect your veneers while you sleep. Teeth with veneers can still decay, possibly requiring full coverage of the tooth with a crown.

Are Crowns Right for Me?

If one or more of your teeth are cracked, decayed or otherwise damaged, dental crowns may provide an ideal solution. It may take some time before a newly-fitted crown feels normal in your mouth but it should soon look, function, and feel like a natural tooth.

Crowns offer both oral health and cosmetic benefits, strengthening the structure of a tooth while helping to make a smile look natural again. Being custom-made, crowns blend seamlessly in your mouth, having been crafted to complement adjacent natural teeth in terms of size, shape, and color. From the patient’s perspective, having a crown fitted should feel no different than having a filling, with just a local anesthetic being required.

There are several different types of crown available, and, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), each has its advantages and drawbacks, so discuss with your dentist which is best for your circumstances. For example, porcelain crowns can be susceptible to chipping, and a large crack may require a complete replacement.

Before a crown is fixed in place, the tooth needs to be filed down to the right shape, which is frequently an extensive and irreversible procedure. If a tooth is severely decayed or damaged, it will need to be filled before the crown is fitted.

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