Veneers vs. Crowns

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When considering changing a smile, many ask, “What is the difference between veneers and crowns?”

This is a great question! You deserve to know the ‘RBAs’ (risks, benefits, and alternatives) of all relevant options before trusting your dentist with YOUR teeth and YOUR smile. 

We are here to explain and hopefully help you understand the difference between Veneers and Crowns!


Veneers usually only cover the visible portion of the teeth. Many times with veneers, we do not have to touch the hidden (back) side of teeth when preparing a smile makeover, making veneers a very conservative option to accomplish a smile makeover.

Risks: You are still cutting (although minimally) your tooth structure. This can be as little as .3mm, depending on our final goals. That’s right, ⅓ of a millimeter! Or if you are redoing veneers, this can be only a polish once we remove your old ones. Another risk, although very small if done by a properly trained dentist with experience, is that they can fracture or pop off. 

Benefits: SMILE! Well-done veneers blend seamlessly into your smile, brightening everyone’s day around you as you smile unguardedly. When properly done, the survival rate of veneers is around 90% success out to 20 years. 

Alternatives: No treatment is always an option. In some cases, Invisalign or braces can straighten crowding if that’s a reason for pursuing veneers. Crowns are also an alternative that some people opt for, for various nuanced reasons. Again, they are your teeth, you have a say, and we work with your choice as long as we are able to make sure that we accomplish the goals we have set.


Crowns literally “cap” the tooth. The standard procedure for shaping crowns is taking roughly 1mm from every (front, back, and sides) surface of the tooth-not just the visible portion. A mental exercise is to think of the tooth as a rough cube, and we trim 1mm from every part of that cube above your gumline. This can change case by case, including cavities that need to be removed, position/crowding of teeth, and, most importantly, cosmetic goals. 

Benefits: If there are cavities or previous dental work, we can extend, clean, and incorporate these areas under our porcelain. This can add stability if these factors compromise the tooth. Some people need changes to their biting surface to balance out their bite. A crown will allow us to change the biting surface as well as the visible portions of their teeth.

Risks: More cutting of tooth structure. This means more (although small) chances of sensitivity, future cavities, and in general less remaining natural tooth structure. Crowns have a slightly lower survival rate due to this extra tooth shaping requirement.

Alternatives: See above! – Veneers, no treatment, or possible orthodontics.

We often utilize what is best biologically and what meets the aesthetic goals we have worked out with you, the patient. This means a combination of crowns, veneers, bonding etc., all fused into a beautiful change that looks good and functions well for years to come.

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