Recently a Denver woman visited our office for a complimentary consultation regarding a smile enhancement. Her question was, “should I choose to veneer or crown my teeth?” She was confused and slightly frustrated. She thought she wanted veneers and asked her general dentist about a smile improvement and getting veneers. The dentist’s derogatory response was, “We don’t do veneers.” She found his response lacking in confidence and decided to seek a second opinion.
I’ve been in dentistry for over 30 years and I perform cosmetic dentistry every day. I treat in the smile zone. I have seen the difference that a veneer makes versus a crown on anterior (front of the mouth) teeth.
Treatment plans are always guided by the individual history of each tooth. Has the tooth had a root canal, does it have a large filling, has it already had a crown, is it a virgin tooth, is this an implant? How does the opposing tooth contact it, how is the health of the tissue and bone around it, etc.
If a dentist provides a plan for offering only crowns (not veneers) on virgin teeth the plan is simply flawed. This dentist likely has not taken the continuing education (related to cosmetic dentistry) to be fully informed. Maybe this dentist has not seen the success/failure rate that comes from crowning anterior teeth?
Porcelain Veneers are a beautiful and conservative choice.
Why veneers, not crowns?
Simple – veneers are more conservative and require the dentist to remove less tooth structure. Dentistry (including veneer treatment) requires the removal of tooth structure but much less than a crown requires. I like to tell my patients that it is like changing out the front of your kitchen cabinets but in the process you leave the box and shelves alone. With dental veneers we leave the back of the tooth (the tongue side) alone for the most part. A crown on the other hand requires the removal of tooth circumferentially. It’s like placing a helmet on a tooth. When we save tooth structure the tooth wins and maintains its integrity and strength. And anterior teeth do not always need crowns just because they have a history of a root canal.
Interview the Dentist
When interviewing a cosmetic dentist ask to see photos of smile enhancements they have performed. Dentists can purchase books for their waiting rooms that make it look like the photos in the book are of smile enhancements they performed. In truth, another dentist performed them. The dentist should have a strong website with before and after images of only their patients. This is an important decision. When in doubt, seek a second opinion.
The Consultation then Exam
Find a dentist who offers consultations. It’s important to feel good about the office, the team, and the dentist and seeing the quality of the dentistry. The next step is always an exam – usually on a separate day. The exam appointment is yet another opportunity to get to know the team and an opportunity for you to determine your level of confidence in moving ahead with treatment. We offer consultation with no fee.
You can expect to pay slightly more for a veneer than a crown. Why? It is a more intricate process, time consuming for the dentist and occasionally the veneer(s) do not blend with the surrounding teeth and in this case the veneer(s) must be sent back to the lab. Dental laboratories also have a higher fee for veneers that is passed on to the dentist and in turn passed along to the patient.
Porcelain Veneers are thin and strong.
Ask for Porcelain without any metal
Always ask for an all porcelain veneer or crown. Rarely is there a need to use metal in dentistry with the materials available today. A dentist who only offers porcelain fused to metal crowns is a dentist unaware of the strength of today’s porcelain materials.
Porcelain Crown, more tooth structure removed.