Are you feeling self-conscious about your smile? Or are your teeth damaged from injury or daily wear? If so, you may have become curious about dental restoration.

But without knowing exactly how your dentist will transform your smile (or how much it will cost), it can be intimidating to call and make that appointment.

Let’s demystify the process with an in-depth look at the two most common restoration methods: dental crowns and dental veneers. By the end of this article, you will be able to make an informed decision about which is right for you!

What Are Dental Veneers?

Dental veneers are a thin coating made of porcelain or resin. They are usually about 1 millimeter thick and are applied to the front of the tooth. Because they are so thin, they can only be attached to teeth that are mostly intact. Severely damaged teeth will not have enough surface area for your dentist to make a secure bond between the tooth and the veneer.

Because it is difficult to adhere a veneer to a damaged tooth, veneers are mostly used for cosmetic fixes. But they can cover up light damage to the tooth, like a crack or a chip.

How Are Veneers Applied?

There are two main types of dental veneers: traditional and no-prep.

Traditional veneers require your dentist to roughen the surface of your teeth. The adhesive used to bond the veneers to your teeth is much more secure when applied to a rough surface rather than a smooth one.

Your dentist will probably use an anesthetic to numb your mouth before beginning. Any changes made to your teeth will be permanent unless you get more dental work.

No-prep veneers, as their name suggests, can be applied without preparing your teeth by roughening the surface, although sometimes minimal prep work may be necessary. Anesthetic is usually not required for no-prep veneers.

You will have to talk to your dentist before you will know which type of veneers will suit your needs.

What Are Dental Crowns?

Like a dental veneer, a dental crown is a covering used to repair damage or make cosmetic corrections to your tooth. The difference is that crowns are much thicker and will require extensive prep work. Crowns are about 2 millimeters thick and cover the entire tooth. They are usually made from a metal alloy, porcelain, or mixture of the two.

A crown will be used if the damage to your tooth is too severe to support a veneer, or if the cosmetic changes you wish to make require significant structural changes to the shape of the tooth.

How Are Crowns Applied?

Because a crown is so thick, and covers the entire tooth, your dentist must file down most of the tooth to make room for the crown. If the tooth has sustained severe damage or decay, that portion of the tooth will need to be removed as well. If too much of the tooth needs to be removed, a new base for the crown will be formed from porcelain or resin.

Preparing your teeth for crowns will require an anesthetic, and is an irreversible procedure.

How Long Do Crowns and Veneers Last?

The longevity of your crowns or veneers will depend on the materials used and how well you take care of them after the procedure.

Resin veneers will usually last around 5-7 years, while porcelain veneers can last 10-15 years. While porcelain veneers cost more upfront, they are more cost-efficient in the long run if taken care of properly.

Crowns are made of much stronger and long-lasting materials because they replace the tooth’s entire surface and must endure much more wear than a veneer. Crowns are usually made of porcelain or metal, as the more inexpensive resin materials can’t withstand regular chewing over time. So a crown can last 10 years or for decades if they are properly cared for.

How to Take Care of Crowns and Veneers

Although made of artificial materials, crowns and veneers require care like normal teeth. It is still essential to brush and floss every day, and avoid food that is highly acidic or that stains teeth, like red wine, coffee, and soda.

It is also important to avoid using your teeth to open packages and always wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports. If you grind your teeth at night, you should look into a nightguard to protect your teeth.

Whether you get crowns or veneers, both require regular care if you want them to last a long time.

How Much Do Dental Crowns and Dental Veneers Cost?

Several factors will determine the cost of your visit. The brand of crowns or veneers your dentist uses, your area’s cost of living, the condition of your teeth, and the level of experience your dentist has will all affect the cost of your treatment.

If you are getting crowns or veneers for cosmetic reasons, you will also have to consider that most insurance policies do not cover cosmetic procedures. Paying for dental work out of pocket can be very expensive.

But, if you are getting crowns to repair severe decay or damage, you will definitely want to talk to your insurance company to see if they will cover at least a part of the cost.

Depending on your situation, the cost of traditional veneers will be somewhere around $925 to $2500 per tooth. No-prep veneers will be around $800 to $2000 per tooth.

Crowns are usually more expensive. They will cost around $1000 to $3500.

The Bottom Line

Choosing the right dental restoration process for you will depend on how intact your teeth are, and how much you want them to change. For small repairs and cosmetic fixes, dental veneers will probably be the right choice. For major repairs or to fix a non-functioning tooth, you will probably need to look into getting a dental crown. No matter what, you will need to talk with your dentist to get a full picture of the procedures and costs required.

If you still have questions about dental restoration, don’t hesitate to contact us! We’re here to help you learn everything you need to know about crowns and veneers.