People often wonder whether they should choose dental crowns or dental veneers, the choice is often not particularly simple and sometimes there may not be a choice at all!
Let’s begin by explaining what crowns and veneers are.
What is a dental crown?
A dental crown is used to replace damaged tooth structure. They are used when there is significant loss of healthy tooth structure due to decay or trauma. The dentist will remove any damaged tooth structure and possibly a small amount of healthy tooth structure in order to facilitate placement of the Crown and maintain good oral health afterwards. The remaining tooth is then prepared to a stump, the dentist then takes an impression of the stump and surrounding teeth.
This dental impression is then used to replicate your mouth, on top of this replica a crown is then manufactured.
Once the crown is manufactured it is returned to the dental practice to be fitted. Whilst the crown is being made you will be fitted with a temporary crown.
Dental crowns can also be used for cosmetic dentistry, a crown will be selected if there are drastic cosmetic improvements to be made to existing teeth.
Dental crowns can be made from a combination of materials including:
- Lithium disilicate.
- Zirconium dioxide (zirconia).
- Cobalt chrome base with feldspar quartz ceramic layered on top.
- Gold alloy base with feldspar quartz ceramic layered on top.
- Titanium base with feldspar quartz ceramic layered on top.
There are a variety of reasons why a dentist may choose one type of dental crown over another including cost, strength and cosmetic appearance.
Is a ceramic dental crown better than metal or stainless steel?
As with many things in dentistry the answer depends upon your clinical situation. A metal free crown made from feldspar/Quartz, lithium disilicate or zirconium dioxide tend to let light pass through in a more natural way. Zirconia crowns also have extremely high strength making them almost as strong as a metal crown in many instances.
Metal free crowns of therefore generally the treatment of choice wherever possible.
Which metal used in a metal dental crown?
The metal is usually an alloy, these are usually split into three categories:
Precious metal crowns typically contain:
- 48% gold
- 40% palladium
- 4% zinc
- 4% 10
- 4% indium
Semi precious metal crowns typically contain:
- 79% palladium
- 8% tin
- 5% cobalt
- 5% gallium
- 2% gold
Nonprecious metal crowns typically contain:
- 54% nickel
- 22% chromium
- 9% molybdenum
- 4% iron
- 4% niobium
- 4% tantalum
Data courtesy of www.animated-teeth.com/dental_crowns/t-dental-crown-gold.htm
What is a dental veneer?
A dental veneer is used In exactly the same way as a dental crowns, to replace damaged tooth structure. However, they are used when the damage is minimal, if the damage exceeds a certain amount then a dental crown may be required.
Dental veneers can also be used in cosmetic dentistry and provide a more minimally invasive approach and using dental crowns as they are a very thin layer of ceramic. Although dental crowns may be necessitated if the amount of cosmetic change is drastic.
Dental veneers are made in much the same way as dental crowns and usually fit over the front surface of the tooth, they can be made from the following materials:
- Dental composite.
- Lithium disilicate.
There are a number of reasons why a dentist may choose one type of dental veneer over another including ease of repair/fitting, cost and cosmetic appearance.
Whilst your permanent ceramic dental veneer is being made by a dental laboratory your dentist will usually fit a temporary veneer.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of porcelain veneers?
- Can help to restore broken down or chipped teeth.
- Can help to brighten a particularly dark smile which can’t be whitened with teeth whitening
- Can help to reshape teeth.
- Are a more minimal approach then using a full dental Crown.
- Any treatment of the tooth should be carefully considered. There maybe minimal removal of healthy tooth tissue but it is still removal nonetheless.
- Can be prone to fracture in certain circumstances.
Is it a bad idea to veneer healthy teeth?
Generally speaking most dentist will prefer not to veneer healthy teeth, preferring to keep teeth as untreated and natural as possible. However, there is always a balance. Sometimes the distress that an unsightly tooth causes a patient means that the risks of veneer are outweighed and it is decided to veneer natural teeth.
Should I get dental veneers or dental bonding?
Generally speaking both dental veneers and dental bonding (Often called composite veneers) are used in similar situations. However, dental bonding with a composite material can often be offered for more minor correction of unsightly or decayed teeth. Dental bonding using a composite resin is also a more minimal approach to treatment and will usually be considered prior to dental veneers as veneers require more tooth structure to be removed, although not as much as dental crowns..