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Do I Need Crowns or Veneers to Fix My Smile?

Do you love your smile?

If your answer to that question is anything other than an enthusiastic “YES!”, then you should consider cosmetic dentistry.  At Designer Smiles, we have created thousands of beautiful smiles that our patients are proud to show off.  The category of cosmetic dentistry encompasses many different dental treatments to improve a smile.  In this week’s blog, we will focus on two of those treatment options: crowns and veneers.

What Cosmetic Problems can Crowns and Veneers Fix?

Both crowns and veneers cover the visible surfaces of the teeth, so they are able to make major changes in the appearance of the smile.

Darkly Discolored Teeth

Some teeth do not respond to teeth whitening.  When teeth have deep internal stains, it may be best to cover them.  With crowns and veneers, you can block out the underlying discoloration and make your teeth whatever color you desire.  One benefit of both porcelain crowns and veneers is that they can serve as a type of “permanent” teeth whitening.  The porcelain does not collect stains as natural teeth do, so the color remains stable for many years.

Misshapen Teeth

While there is no one perfect shape for teeth, some people have distinctly misshapen teeth.  This can occur as a result of a problem in the tooth’s development, or as the result of damage to a formerly natural-shaped tooth.  After years of grinding, some people have uneven, jagged edges on the biting surfaces of their front teeth.  Crowns and veneers can reshape the teeth to give them a more natural appearance.

Undersized Teeth

There is also no perfect size for teeth, but there is a general proportion between the size of a person and the size of his or her teeth.  It is very common for someone to have one or two teeth that are much smaller than the others are.  If you feel that your teeth are too small for your face, you can consider resizing them with crowns or veneers.

Tooth Gaps

Many people have small gaps or spaces between the teeth that are unattractive in the smile.  (Some people like their gaps, and that is totally fine!  What matters is how you feel about the gaps.)  If you do not like the spaces between your teeth, one of the ways to close them is by reshaping the teeth with crowns or veneers.

Minor Crowding/Unevenness

Some smiles have teeth with overlapping or rotation.  Others have unevenness along the biting edges due to slight misalignment of the teeth.  These cosmetic issues may make you dislike your smile.  We can easily correct these problems by covering the teeth with crowns or veneers.

What Cosmetic Problems can Crowns and Veneers NOT Fix?

Crowns and veneers are not the solution to every cosmetic problem.  There are some smile issues that we cannot correct by covering the existing teeth.

Missing Teeth

Crowns and veneers are able to replace some missing tooth structure, but they are not capable of replacing an entire missing tooth.  Crowns can support a missing tooth in the form of a bridge, so technically you could incorporate them into the overall smile improvement.

Severe Crowding

Because crowns and veneers cover the existing teeth in their current positions, they cannot correct the problem of severe crowding.  When teeth have major overlapping, we must move them first.  Then we can cover them, if needed.

Large Gaps

Unfortunately, the same is true for wide spaces between the teeth.  Technically, we could use crowns and veneers to fill in those gaps, but the resulting teeth would be far too wide to look natural.

Severe Gum Recession

This cosmetic problem would create the opposite situation as that we just described under “Large Gaps”.  If the gum recession is severe, and you attempt to cover the exposed roots and close any open spaces, you will end up with teeth that are far too long to appear natural.  The cosmetic solution for severe gum recession is some type of gum grafting, which repositions the gum tissues to their natural position on the teeth.

What is the Difference between Crowns and Veneers?

Crowns and veneers can serve many of the same purposes, as they both cover the visible surfaces of the teeth.  The difference is that crowns cover the entire exposed tooth (everything outside of the gums), and veneers only cover the visible surface.  A veneer covers the side of a tooth facing the lip or cheek and the biting edge.

Comparison of Design

Because of the amount of coverage a crown provides, it requires the removal of more tooth structure.  The design of a crown necessitates the removal of all of the enamel on a tooth on every side.  A veneer can be much more conservative.  Your dentist designs a veneer to meet the specific smile goals you have.  This often allows her to conserve more natural tooth structure, removing only what is necessary to make the desired changes.

Comparison of Appearance

In terms of appearance, only your dentist will note any difference.  Crowns and veneers can create the same appearance.

Comparison of Invasiveness

A crown requires more removal of natural tooth structure, so it is more invasive.  A crown also allows for the restoration of any decay that may be present on the tooth.

Comparison of Cost

The cost of an all-porcelain crown is not much different from that of a veneer.  Both have fees that apply to each individual tooth treated.  In most cases, veneers will have a slightly higher fee than dental crowns.

Comparison of Long-Term Maintenance

Both crowns and veneers require great home care to maintain their appearance and function over your lifetime.  They are both vulnerable to cavities and gum disease.  You must practice consistent, effective oral hygiene with brushing and flossing daily.  You should also maintain consistent professional teeth cleanings with your dental hygienist.  If you clench or grind your teeth (your dentist will tell you if there are signs of this habit), you should commit to wearing a protective mouthguard during sleep.

More Questions about Cosmetic Dentistry with Crowns and Veneers?

Call Designer Smiles today to schedule a cosmetic consultation with Dr. Ann.  She can answer any question you have about crowns and veneers and assess your current smile.  We love helping our patients achieve their dream smiles through cosmetic dentistry!