Crowns Versus Veneers: What's The Difference?

Being confident in your smile isn't just a matter of superficial aesthetics. Your smile is often the first thing someone notices about you, and a warm smile can thaw awkward social interactions and set people at ease — not to mention boost your own self esteem. But if you're struggling with teeth that are severely stained, chipped, broken, or decayed, it can be hard to feel good about your smile. Even worse, badly damaged teeth can lead to serious health problems. That's where getting a veneer or a crown could make all the difference.

A veneer is normally used for cosmetic purposes — to improve the look of a tooth that is stained, chipped, or an irregular shape (via Southland Dental Care). The veneer itself is a thin layer of porcelain or other material, less than one millimeter thick, which is bonded to the front of the existing tooth (via Healthline). A small amount of tooth enamel may have to be ground off of the tooth to create a rough surface for the veneer to adhere to. Dr. Mary Swift, award-winning cosmetic dentist and founder of Dallas Laser Dentistry, explains, "Veneers are best used cosmetically to transform your smile, not simply repair it, and allow an experienced cosmetic dentist to optimize your smile based upon the shape of your face and lips" (via Prime Women).

Veneers and crowns can be color-matched to teeth

Crowns, on the other hand, are a more invasive treatment, normally used for teeth that have large fillings, cracks, or root canals. A larger amount of the existing tooth needs to be ground down to make room for the crown. Crowns can be porcelain, a porcelain-metal composite, or an all-metal alloy, are about two millimeters thick, and cover the entire tooth (via Healthline). Dr. Swift adds via Prime Women, "Crowns are the gold standard for tooth repair. Crowns are used to fix broken teeth, in bridges or atop dental implants to replace missing teeth, to restore proper bite by restoring length in teeth that have been ground down with age, or cosmetically along with veneers as part of a Smile Makeover."

In either case, veneers and crowns are likely to be pricey. Prices will vary depending on how severe tooth damage is, its location in the mouth, and average prices in your area. Traditional veneers tend to range between $925 and $2,500 per tooth, although there are some cheaper, less durable options available. Crowns can run anywhere from $1,000 to $3,500 per tooth. However, keep in mind that most dental insurance plans won't cover procedures that are considered to be strictly cosmetic.