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Veneers vs. Crowns: Which Is Right For You

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A man sitting in a dentist's chair, holding up a mirror and smiling with his dentist in the background

Your smile is unique, but your teeth are not invincible. Sometimes, chips, cracks, and other types of damage can begin to affect your smile. Fortunately, your dentist can help by installing either veneers or a dental crown. But what is the difference between these two choices?

Veneers are a common choice for fixing cosmetic issues like gaps, staining, or oddly shaped teeth. Meanwhile, dental crowns are typically recommended for more severe damage or decay, when the damage in question can compromise the health of your tooth, gums, and mouth.

What Are Veneers?

Veneers are thin, custom-made shells designed to act as a sort of cover for your teeth. They are designed to cover the front surface of your tooth and improve the overall appearance of your smile. With veneers, you are able to alter the colour, size, shape, and length of your teeth without needing a major corrective surgery.

Veneers are ideal for discolouration, chipped teeth, or any irregular spacing you may be experiencing.  They are typically made from porcelain or composite resin, both of which can be coloured to match the natural shade of your teeth.

Are Veneers Permanent?

Typically, veneers are considered to be a permanent dental treatment. To install them, a small amount of enamel needs to be removed from the surface of your teeth—this way, your mouth will not feel crowded once the veneers are installed.

However, just like your natural teeth, they do require regular maintenance in order to remain functional. You will still need to brush and floss your teeth daily, as well as attend regular dental appointments for cleanings and check-ups.

Over an extended time, they may begin showing signs of wear and tear. There is good news, though; you can always return to your dentist for repairs, where they can either fix or replace your veneers so they look as good as new. Usually, your veneers should last around 10-20 years with proper care and maintenance before needing replacing.

However, not everybody is a candidate for veneers. Before a dentist recommends veneers, they will perform a thorough consultation to determine whether or not you would be eligible for this treatment. If you have gum disease, very little tooth enamel left, or too much of a tooth missing, your dentist may recommend an alternative treatment like dental crowns.

What Are Dental Crowns?

Think of dental crowns like a cap for a damaged tooth. Instead of covering just the front surface, a crown is designed to cover, seal, and protect a damaged tooth—all while appearing and functioning like the rest of your natural teeth. They encase the entire tooth to restore its shape, size, strength, and function.

They are usually recommended for teeth that have undergone extensive dental decay or damage. To get a dental crown, the process includes:

  1. Tooth preparation. If it is determined that you need a dental crown, your dentist will begin by reshaping the tooth slightly to make room for the crown.
  2. Impressions are taken of your teeth and surrounding gums. This information is sent to a dental lab where the crown will be made, or made in-house if possible.
  3. While waiting for the permanent crown to be made, a temporary crown may be installed to protect the prepared tooth.
  4. Once the permanent crown is finished, you return to your dentist and the temporary crown will be replaced with the permanent crown.

When Should You Get a Dental Crown?

Your dentist may recommend a dental crown if you have a tooth with significant structural damage or severe decay. Since crowns are designed to restore a tooth’s natural shape and function, they are ideal for the following situations:

  • A large filling that is failing
  • A cracked or fractured tooth
  • A weakened tooth due to root canal therapy

However, not everybody is a candidate for a dental crown. If you do not have enough structure left in your tooth, have extreme decay, or often grind your teeth, your dentist may recommend alternative treatment.

The Key Differences Between Veneers & Crowns

When deciding on the right type of treatment for your unique situation, your dentist will have to consider a few factors. You will need a certain amount of enamel to remain for either option and if too much of the tooth is missing, you may need a different type of treatment.

The overall purpose of the treatment plays an important role in this decision as well. Remember: veneers are thin shells for the front of your teeth, and are most often used for aesthetic reasons. They allow you to change the visible appearance of your smile, and while they do work like natural teeth, they do not restore a tooth’s function if it has experienced damage.

Meanwhile, a crown is designed to cap, seal, and support a natural tooth with damage or decay. These are designed to restore the function of a damaged tooth and focus more on keeping your tooth strong and healthy than the aesthetic appearance.

It can help to think of it like this: veneers are focused more on the aesthetics of your smile while crowns focus more on the overall function of your teeth. 

A man in an dentist's office shaking hands with his dentist

Dental Care in Calgary

At Kensington Dental Care, we believe in providing personalized dental care tailored to your unique needs, and our experienced team is dedicated to finding a solution for your dental problems. Whether you need veneers, a dental crown, or an alternative treatment, we are here to help. Request an appointment with our team today!

Written by Dr. Geoff Van Blaricom

Dr. Geoff Van Blaricom has been practicing Dentistry for over 30 years. He is a member of the Canadian Dental Association, Alberta Dental Association and College as well as the American Dental Association.

More Articles By Dr. Geoff Van Blaricom

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  • 204-320 10 St. NW
  • Calgary, AB T2N 1V8


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