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What’s the difference between crowns and veneers?

The difference between crowns and veneers is that crowns are thicker and are covering the all surface of the tooth, like a cap. Veneers are thinner and covering only the […]

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The difference between crowns and veneers is that crowns are thicker and are covering the all surface of the tooth, like a cap. Veneers are thinner and covering only the front surface of the tooth. Crowns are mostly used to protect a tooth and change its appearance, whereas veneers are used to improve the cosmetic appearance of the tooth only.

Also, a major difference between the two is the amount of natural tooth surface sacrificed; for veneers is 15% and for crowns is 40% to 50%.

What are veneers?

A veneer is a thin layer of porcelain (like shellac nail polish) placed on the outside surface of the tooth to improve appearance and colour.

What is the process for getting veneers?

First step for getting veneers is a consultation with a cosmetic dentist that will assess your teeth and advise how many veneers you should go for. One of the best cosmetic dentist in London is Dr. Sahil Patel at 66 Harley Street, London, UK, at Marylebone Smile Clinic. Second step is to, if necessary, whiten the rest of the teeth, this process will take minimum two weeks and you will do it at home. After the whitening process is completed and you are happy with the result, the dentist will start preparing the teeth for the veneers. During this process 0-15% of your natural tooth is removed and sets of moulds are taken and sent to the dental technician for the final porcelain veneers. You and your cosmetic dentist will choose the colour that suits your best and while you are on the temporary veneers, adjustments can be made until you are happy with the final results. When the final veneers are ready, usually two weeks after the prep appointment, the dentist will fit the veneers.

What are porcelain veneers for?

Porcelain veneers are used to improve the cometic appearance and colour of the teeth. You can also use porcelain veneers to correct mild-moderate crowding of the teeth without braces. 

What do they look like?

Porcelain veneers are very thin shells of ceramic between 0.1-1mm on average.

What are crowns?

Crowns are caps placed on teeth to cover and protect the teeth. Crowns can be made of porcelain, ceramic and metal-based materials like gold. Usually, a crown is placed on a weak tooth, for example a tooth that has been root treated or heavily filled, and it will protect it from splitting or breaking.

What is the process for getting crowns?

On the first visit, the tooth is prepared for the crown, this means that 40-50% of the tooth is removed and sets of moulds/impressions are taken and sent to the dental technician that will customise the crown. The dentist will take a shade of the rest of the teeth so that the crown will look as natural as possible. You will have a temporary crown until the final crown is ready, usually this takes 1-2 weeks, and it is fitted on the second appointment.

What are crowns for?

A crown looks like a cap, that is precision manufactured to the tooth underneath. They can look as natural as a real tooth but can be made to appear any way that you prefer.

Risks of getting crowns

There is always a risk of the nerve being damaged during the preparation stage due to the vibration of the instruments used. This risk of this occurring is 15-20%, based upon research by Saunders and Saunders in 1998. This could lead to a root canal procedure where the nerve of the tooth is removed.  

Price comparison

Cost per tooth similar for veneers/crowns as they are both custom made in similar materials.

LondonOutside LondonTurkey Teeth
Front Crown/VeneerFrom 795Approx 595£195
Back CrownFrom 795Approx 595£195

Advantages and Disadvantages

Veneers AdvantagesVeneers DisadvantagesCrowns AdvantagesCrowns Disadvantages
More conservativePermanent & IrreversibleVersatileMisunderstanding of what a crown is compared to a veneer
VersatileFinite lifespanProtect teethFinite Lifespan
Able to change colour, shape and positionTooth reduction requiredAll dentists can provide crownsHigh relative tooth reduction requirement
Long lastingRequires yearly visits to the hygienistsTechnically easier to performRequires yearly visits to the hygienists
Most aesthetic material in dentistryNot all dentists can provide veneersOften aesthetic material in dentistryIrreversible
Relative low risk to complicationsTechnically more complexSignificant bite changes are possibleRelative high risk of complications

Making a decision

The dentist will advise what options are available and what the potential drawbacks and upsides are for you. It is ultimately your decision as to how to proceed which is why it is important to check the dentist’s background, specifically their before and after pictures before making a decision.

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