Crowns VS Veneers

The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry reports that about 50% of all Americans are unhappy with the look of their smile. Fortunately, they have many options that can be used to improve the situation. Crowns and veneers are two of the most widely used restorative dental treatments today.

Whether suffering from gaps between the teeth, crooked teeth, or yellow teeth, crowns or veneers can help restore your awesome smile. Although both of these teeth restoration methods can give the same appearance on you, they are, in fact, very different. They have different attributes and different applications.


There are basically 4 types of dental crowns in use: all ceramic, gold alloys, porcelain-fused-to-metal, and base metal alloys.  According to the Canadian Dental Association, the four types may be used to meet different dental restoration needs.  After examining your tooth that needs restoration, the dentist recommends the most suitable type of dental crown.

The most widely used are porcelain crowns. These are ideal if you only have one or two bad teeth. The color of the porcelain can be designed in a way that it blends in with your teeth such that other people will not easily tell if you have a crown in place. They are great for a broken tooth or one that has become weak from decay, or even when you don’t have enough tooth left.

Porcelain crowns are also used for camouflaging a small group of misshapen or discolored teeth. Crowns can serve you for about 5 years before you think of replacing them


Dental veneers are slender, paper thin porcelain pieces that are applied only to the front of the individual’s teeth. Veneers are mostly made using porcelain and unlike crowns, they only cover the front of your teeth. Crowns surround the tooth. Veneers are generally custom tinted so that they can match your existing teeth. They can also be used whiten discolored teeth.

Applying veneers will typically entail grinding down your tooth structure. At times, it even entails removing parts of the affected tooth beyond the enamel. This will allow for proper veneer placement. Typically, veneers last for about 10 years before you think or consider having them replaced.

Main Difference Between A Crown And A Veneer?

Veneers and crowns, typically made of porcelain are both dental restorative techniques. Both are effective in terms of improving the tooth’s aesthetic appearance.

The main difference between the two methods is how much of your original tooth gets pulled out, the thickness of the material used in covering your tooth, and also how much of your tooth gets covered.

Crown and Veneer Differences

Although both crowns and veneers improve the looks of your smile, they do have several differences which bring to the fore the importance of choosing the right method for your particular dental situation. True, both are excellent forms of teeth restoration and they work by adding an extra covering to your existing tooth with the goal of improving its function or appearance.

Crowns are designed to cup-over and also encase your entire tooth and are therefore a good way of rebuilding the tooth. Because of the nature of the special materials used in the fabrication, these type of restorations are often used to improve and strengthen the appearance of a patient’s teeth.

Veneers, in contrast, are basically a sliver of dental restorative that is bonded onto the tooth’s front side solely for cosmetic enhancements. This may be color improvements or minor shape adjustments.

Which One Is Used When?

The choice of the technique will typically depend on the required restoration. Veneers are an excellent option when the issues to be addressed are aesthetic in nature and relatively minor. Porcelain veneers are a great solution for chipped teeth, badly stained teeth, minor cracks, and small gaps between your teeth or when you need superficial misalignment.

Crowns are typically recommended by dentists when you have more fundamental issues affecting your existing teeth. Such include badly cracked or broken teeth, or where you needed a root canal treatment. The crown is also useful for keeping the treated tooth intact and protecting it from additional damage that could lead to extraction.

Veneers are generally seen as a more conservative dental treatment than porcelain crowns. This is because less of your tooth material needs removing in order to have the veneer placed. Crowns, on the other hand, require as much as between 60 and 75% of the existing tooth to be removed or trimmed away prior to placing the crowns.

The Grey Area

It’s hard at times, to tell when a veneer or crown is best, and even differentiate between the two techniques. There are, for example, instances when deep cutting is used when preparing for a veneer. Although this aggressive approach to restoration isn’t always used, it blurs the line between the two techniques. In addition, veneers are at times used for improving teeth alignment.

However, although veneers have for long been used more for aesthetic purposes, veneers are now being seen as the perfect substitute for dental crowns for the front teeth or when a tooth has been badly damaged.

The Cost

Composite veneers will cost you anything between $250 and $1500 per tooth, depending on how much work is required. Compared to composite resin veneers, porcelain veneers are generally more expensive. It’s important to note that often veneers aren’t covered by insurance because they are considered to be a cosmetic procedure.

Crowns are usually more expensive compared to porcelain veneers. They can cost you in the range of $875-1,400 per tooth. A number of dentists may charge more for your 6-front teeth because it takes more effort and works to bring back that beautiful smile.

If you can prove to the insurer that your crowns or veneers are a medical necessity, they might be covered, but there could be a limit on how much you can spend.


The best thing about both crowns and veneers is that they are both lifelong commitments. Handled with proper dental hygiene and care, their lifespan is long-term. Typically, both are made using porcelain, a material that is resistant to stains. However, failure to properly floss and brush can still cause discoloration.

Unfortunately, these two dental restorations can’t be bleached or whitened like your natural teeth, so you need to be extremely diligent when it comes to your oral hygiene routine if they are to serve you for the long-haul.

Author: Peter Mayhew

Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.