Cosmetic dentistry offers a number of potential solutions for a less-than-perfect smile. Among these are veneers and crowns. Each of these two options has its pros and cons, and understanding these will help you choose which option might be best for improving your smile.
Amount of Original Tooth Removed
With veneers, only about one millimeter of the tooth needs to be removed to provide room for the new tooth surface, but with crowns, at least two millimeters, and sometimes most of the original tooth, needs to be removed. Because of this, crowns are usually used when the teeth have more damage, such as significant cavities, root canals, broken teeth or teeth that need to be repositioned. More minor issues, such as discoloration or slight imperfections in shape, are often more conservatively treated with veneers. Keep in mind, however, that just because less tooth is removed doesn't mean that the treatment is reversible. Once either a crown or veneer is applied, the tooth will always need some type of covering.
Strength of the Tooth
Because veneers are just a thin coating applied to the front of the teeth, they don't make the tooth any stronger. They just cover up whatever imperfection a person would like to hide. Crowns, on the other hand, replace a significant amount of the tooth and are more like a protective shell, so they actually make the tooth stronger overall. This is one reason to opt for crowns in cases where the tooth has been damaged by teeth grinding.
While most people don't opt to get a crown or veneer just to protect their teeth from cavities, it's nice to know that both alternatives are at least somewhat likely to reduce cavities in the tooth. Crowns do a better job of this, however, as they cover more of the tooth's surface. The edges of the tooth around the veneer can be a bit more difficult to clean than just having a regular tooth, which can make this area somewhat prone to cavities if care isn't taken to avoid this.
You'll have to discuss the cost of these procedures with the dentist, as they can vary a lot. In some cases, veneers may be slightly less expensive, but since they take about the same amount of time, dentists sometimes charge similar prices. Veneers aren't typically covered by insurance, however, and crowns can be covered in some situations, meaning there might be lower out-of-pocket costs with this alternative. Click here for more information.