What is the Difference between a Dental Veneer and a Dental Crown?

Both veneers and crowns can withstand stains from substances such as cigarettes.
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  • Written By: K T Solis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 April 2014
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A person's smile can affect the way the world sees her. Over time, crooked, broken, or discolored teeth can lower self-esteem and cause a person to hide her face from the world. Fortunately, it's possible to obtain healthy, attractive teeth with the help of a cosmetic dentist or oral surgeon. The dental professional must consider several factors before deciding which method to use to improve the appearance of a patient's teeth. The most common types of procedures used for improving teeth are the application of a dental veneer and a dental crown.

There are several similarities between these two types of dental work. Both are custom-made moldings designed to give patients white, healthy teeth. First, a mold is taken of the tooth before it is sent to a dental laboratory. The veneer or crown is tailored to the patient's mouth. Once it is sent back to the dentist or oral surgeon, an adhesive is used to fit the molding to the patient's tooth.

Despite these similarities, a dental veneer and dental crown have differences. Crowns enclose the entire tooth, while veneers only encase the front part. Veneers cover the part of the tooth that is revealed when a person smiles.


In order to place a dental crown on a person's tooth, the dentist must reduce the thickness of the tooth so that the crown can fit over it. The thickness is usually reduced by about 2 millimeters (0.0787 inches) or more. In contrast, a tooth destined for a dental veneer only needs to have its thickness reduced by about 1 millimeter (0.0394 inches) or less.

Another difference between a dental veneer and a dental crown is the fact that both are used for different situations. Crowns are ideal for drastically changing the shape and color of a tooth. They are used to repair teeth that are chronically broken or decayed. Dental crowns are strong and are especially useful for types of teeth that perform most of the grinding and chewing. Since they encase an entire tooth, the original tooth needs to be reduced a great deal.

Veneers are used on patients whose tooth structure is basically still strong and healthy. Although the teeth may be discolored, have gaps, or be misshapen or crooked, they can still be salvaged. Since they only cover the front part, the tooth does not need to be reduced as much as one needing a crown. Veneers are strong but brittle; therefore, teeth that do much of the chewing and grinding work should not be fitted with dental veneers.

Both types of dental work are both good options for people who would like to transform their damaged teeth into something more aesthetically pleasing. They last for many years and can withstand stains from tea, coffee, and cigarettes. Scientific breakthroughs in the dentistry field have made it possible to mask unsightly teeth, changing their color, shape, and overall appearance. Patients should speak with a cosmetic dentist or oral surgeon in order to determine whether a dental veneer or a crown are options for their specific needs.


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