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Comparison: Porcelain Veneers vs. Dental Crowns?

Dental restorations are medical procedures undertaken to improve the appearance and function of a tooth. This is done by chiselling out and replacing part of the tooth with another material. Among the substances that can be used for such procedures, porcelain – a type of ceramic – stands out as the perfect choice.

What Makes Porcelain Good for Dental Restorations?

• It can be modified and modelled to mimic the shape, colour, and texture of teeth.

• It is strong and can withstand a similar bite force to ordinary teeth.

• Gum tissues are extremely tolerant of porcelain.

• It is stain resistant and thus can retain its colour for a long period of time.

What are Veneers and Crowns?

These are the two forms of porcelain used in dental restoration. The size of the portion of the tooth that needs restoration is what distinguishes them. The type and purpose of restoration you need will determine whether you get a veneer or a crown.


Veneers are wafer-thin and perfect for minor restoration. Only a thin layer – no more than one millimetre – of the enamel is shaven off. Veneers are usually done on the visible side of the tooth. The core and back of the tooth are left untouched. The colour of porcelain is matched to your natural teeth. Though they are strong, sharp or, a repeated impact can dislodge or crack them as they are also brittle.
Veneers are good for improving the aesthetic appearance of teeth.

What Types of Problems Do Veneers Fix?

• Discoloured teeth. Discoloration can be as a result of root canal treatment, certain drugs, excess fluoride and the presence of large resin fillings.

• Teeth that are worn down. The tooth you want to be improved must still have a structure that is significantly healthy and intact.

A broken or chipped tooth.

• Gaps and spaces between teeth.

• Can be used to make slight alterations to the shape of a tooth. These could be uneven, misaligned, or irregular shaped teeth with craters or bulges. This application is mostly used for cosmetic purposes.

Related article: How Much Does Porcelain Veneers Cost in Canada?


Crowns require more than two millimetres of your tooth to be shaven off and can generally engulf the entire tooth. This type of restoration typically results in shaving off up to 76% of your tooth’s anatomical crown (part of the tooth above the gum). There are two procedures involved in this type of restoration. First, the orthodontist scopes the tooth to find out how much of it should be replaced. They then shave off the damaged parts and fit you with a temporary crown. A permanent crown that has been designed to fit perfectly will then be fitted later on. Crowns are thicker in comparison to veneers. This makes them more resistant to impact and thus more durable.

When are Dental Crowns Needed?

• To hold parts of a cracked tooth in place and prevent breakage.

• They can be used to protect teeth from decay and also fix a severely decayed tooth.

• For the restoration of a severely worn down or already broken tooth.

• To cover and support a tooth with a large filling when there isn’t a lot of teeth left.

• They can be used to hold a dental bridge in place.

• To improve the shape of a tooth. They’re effective in executing major changes to the shape of a tooth.

• Suitable for covering dental implants.

• Good for producing large colour changes on teeth.

Crowns are also used to cover the primary (baby) teeth of children who are at risk of tooth decay and have difficulty with oral hygiene.

Things You Should Know When Choosing Between a Veneer or Crown

Both methods of restoration have their own unique properties that might make either more suitable to your needs.


• Only require a little trimming and at times, none at all. However, some cases may require up to 30% of your tooth shaven off.

• Relatively strong but also brittle. They should not be placed under unnecessary pressure that may dislodge or cause them to crack.

• Your tooth may always need some form of covering if you choose to get a veneer. In some special cases, the placement may be reversible. This is usually in the rare cases when shaving was not needed.


• Crowns are very strong and durable.
• They require a large portion of your tooth to be shaven off.
• They can be affected by grinding or clenching your teeth.


Though porcelain veneers are brittle and can dislodge or chip off, they can last up to a decade if you avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your teeth and maintain good oral hygiene. On the other hand, Porcelain crowns can serve you for up to three decades but generally last for ten years on average. Poor oral hygiene and improper application can reduce their lifespan. Your habits are the greatest determinant as to how long your restoration lasts.

Here are some habits you should avoid completely:

• Biting on nails
• Opening bottles with your teeth
• Chewing ice and frozen food.

Cost and Insurance

The cost of a porcelain veneer or crown restoration is almost the same. It ranges between $ 500 and $3000 per tooth depending on the dentist and location. It is important to check if your medical coverage will pay for your restoration. Veneers are mostly for cosmetic purposes and may not be covered. Crowns are generally health-related and are likely covered.

If you have a decayed tooth or the general appearance of your teeth does not please you, porcelain restorations can give you a new lease of life. This simple procedure can boost your self-esteem significantly. It is, however, important to remember that even though porcelain restorations are strong, they still require as much oral hygiene as ordinary teeth in order to give you maximum service.

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