When you have damaged teeth due to a cavity or an injury, it can be hard to smile freely or even socialize. Some damaged teeth do not function well, affecting your ability to eat or speak. That is why dentists have a long list of restorative treatments to restore damaged teeth' look, feel, and function and save your smile.
Dental veneers and crowns are top-rated treatments for damaged teeth. Both can restore your smile and the functionality of your damaged teeth. But since they provide almost similar benefits, many people believe they are the same. However, the two are different in how they are installed and function. For example, dental veneers cover the front of a damaged tooth, while crowns cover the entire tooth.
Dental restoration treatments are very costly. That is why choosing carefully what to go for is crucial, depending on the damage you have to your teeth. A skilled dentist can help you understand your options for informed decision-making.
Let us look at dental veneers and crowns in greater detail to understand how they are installed, how they function, and how different they are.
Dental Crowns vs. Veneers
If you have one or more damaged teeth, you are advised to visit a dentist immediately. That prevents further damage to your teeth and helps restore their functionality and your smile. After an accident, tooth damage can occur for various reasons, including dental erosion, cavities, and breakage or fracture. Your dentist will examine your damaged tooth, its underlying structures, and the condition of your other teeth and gums to recommend a suitable treatment plan. In most cases, dentists recommend restorative procedures for damaged teeth, as they aim to restore your damaged tooth so it looks, feels, and functions like a natural tooth.
A veneer is an excellent recommendation for a damaged tooth. Dental veneers are more suitable for minor tooth damage since they are thin and only cover the front part of the damaged tooth. If the damage to your tooth is more extensive, your dentist will recommend a dental crown. Dental crowns are thick and cover the entire tooth. If you receive a veneer, the inside of your damaged tooth will not be touched. But if you receive a crown, you will protect the entire tooth, from top to bottom.
However, the dentist will prepare your damaged tooth before installing a veneer or crown. The preparation entails removing the damaged part of the tooth to prevent further damage. It also aims to give the damaged tooth a shape that will easily accommodate the restoration and give the treated tooth the shape and feel of a natural tooth. But when shaping a tooth for a dental veneer, the dentist aims to preserve much of your natural tooth.
When to Choose a Veneer
While veneers are used in dental restoration procedures, cosmetic dentists also use them to improve the look and feel of a natural tooth. A veneer will enhance your smile and the functionality of your tooth after damage. But you can only choose it if the underlying structure of your damaged tooth is solid and healthy. A veneer will work perfectly on a tooth whose enamel is intact. Thus, your dentist can recommend an alternative treatment for minor damage if the tooth's underlying structures or tissues are affected. The surrounding teeth must also be healthy for the veneer to work.
Dentists often recommend veneers when your tooth has suffered a minor change in shape or color. It can also fix little gaps between teeth, misalignments, and stains. A veneer will significantly improve the appearance of your tooth, making it an ideal treatment for visible or front teeth, including premolars and cupids.
Note: Dental veneers are no less permanent than crowns. They serve almost the same purpose for practically the same period as crowns. If you take good care of your veneers, you will enjoy a long life of service.
Here is the process you will likely go through to receive a veneer:
Your dentist will prepare the damaged tooth to make it a perfect fit for the veneer. After the new installation, they will trim the tooth to achieve the same thickness as a natural tooth. Your tooth’s thickness should not change after receiving the veneer. The preparation will smooth the tooth surface and bond easily with the veneer.
Your dentist must choose a color that matches your natural teeth for restoration. If more than one tooth is damaged in the exact location in your mouth, the dentist will pick a color that matches the surrounding teeth. Sometimes dentists recommend bleaching the natural teeth before choosing a veneer. It ensures all your teeth are uniformly the same after treatment.
Your dentist will use a shade guide to pick the right color. Sometimes, they will pick various colors for the same veneer. They must also consider how translucent the veneer should be for a perfect final appearance.
Your dentist will first create an impression or mold of the damaged tooth to create a perfect veneer. They will do this using moldable putty on a dental tray. The dentist will put the tray with the putty on your teeth. The process will take only minutes. Once the putty forms around the damaged tooth, the dentist will use the model to create a veneer that will fit on the tooth.
Fitting and Shaping
Dentists create veneers in dental labs. Once your veneer is ready, it will be time to fit it on the damaged tooth and shape it to perfection. Your dentist will place the ready-made veneer on the tooth to check whether it works well. They must ensure that the shape and size are okay before bonding. If the veneer perfectly fits your tooth, it only requires minor changes.
The Bonding Process
If the dentist is satisfied with the veneer, they will use an acidic gel to prepare your tooth for bonding. They will apply the gel to your tooth’s enamel and leave it on for about twenty seconds before washing it off. The gel will create a rough texture on the tooth for proper bonding. The dentist will then apply a bonding agent to the etched tooth and place the veneer over it. They will finish the process by removing any excess bonding agent from your tooth.
Your dentist will give you a follow-up appointment within the week to ensure the veneer works as it should. During this appointment, they will examine your treated tooth and gums for signs of inflammation.
After installation, the dentist will instruct you on caring for the veneers and other teeth. You must continue brushing and flossing your teeth regularly to keep them clean and healthy. If you habitually grind your teeth, your dentist will advise you against it. If it is impossible to stop, they recommend wearing a mouthguard to protect your veneer from damage. Even if veneers are solid, they are vulnerable to damage. You must also avoid chewing complex substances like ice and hard candy.
When To Choose Dental Crowns
If the damage to your tooth is more severe, your dentist can recommend a dental crown instead of a veneer. Even though crowns also restore the appearance of your tooth, dentists use them to restore the function and integrity of a damaged tooth. Thus, dental crowns are preferred for broken, cracked, and severely decayed teeth.
However, there are instances when dentists recommend crowns for subtle tooth damage. That would be when the teeth' enamels are etched through, exposing the teeth' dentin. That could be challenging for you to notice and will not present any symptoms. But a skilled dentist will figure it out after thoroughly examining the damaged tooth. It is also one of the reasons why dentists recommend regular visits for dental exams.
If you habitually grind your teeth or clench your jaw, your dentist will also recommend a dental crown for your damaged teeth instead of veneers. Even though veneers are strong enough to withstand grinding and biting forces, dental crowns are well-designed to manage everyday chewing and eating.
Additionally, your dentist will choose a dental crown for a damaged molar. Once a tooth receives a crown, you will forever need one. Thus, you will need a quick replacement if the crown is damaged. Dental crowns can serve you for years without needing a replacement. That makes them practical for long-term treatment needs.
But it takes longer to receive a dental crown than a veneer. The installation process will include the following steps:
Your dentist will need to prepare the damaged tooth for crown installation. They will trim the tooth to the desired shape and size. Since the crown will cover the entire tooth, the dentist must remove more of its enamel to ensure that the installation does not change the size and shape of the natural tooth. After installation, the crown fits tightly on the tooth, protecting it from external factors like plaque that could damage it. That is why trimming the tooth before installing a crown is okay.
Since trimming can be uncomfortable, the dentist will first numb the surrounding area. After trimming the tooth, your dentist will shape it to accommodate the crown perfectly.
Creating Dental Impressions
The next step would be to take impressions or models of your teeth. The dental lab will use these impressions to create a perfect crown for the damaged tooth. Your dentist will do this by loading putty on dental trays and placing the tray over your teeth. The putty will form around your teeth to create models of your teeth. The dentist can gently push your gums away using a retraction cord to ensure the impressions reach the bottom of the teeth. A model of the entire tooth and its root is necessary to create a perfect crown.
Creating a Temporary Crown
Once your tooth is prepared, your dentist cannot leave it uncovered for the two weeks it will take to create a crown. That is why your dentist must create a temporary dental crown for your tooth. The temporary one will protect your tooth before the actual crown is ready. The temporary crown will keep the surrounding teeth in place, prevent your gums from growing more around the trimmed tooth, and prevent the prepared tooth from aching.
Dentists use dental trays to place acrylic resin over prepared teeth to create temporary dental crowns. After removing the dental tray, your dentist will shape the crown to remove any sharp or rough edges that could discomfort your mouth. The dentist will then place the crown back on and check your bite to ensure it is correct.
Placing a Permanent Crown
It will take a maximum of two weeks for your permanent dental crown to be ready. Your dentist will call you back to their office for placement. They will first remove the temporary crown, clean the trimmed tooth, and position the crown on the tooth. There is a need for your dentist to ensure that the crown fits well. If there are spaces between your tooth and the crown, they could trap food particles. Since these are difficult-to-reach areas when brushing and flossing, they could become breeding grounds for dangerous bacteria. Your dentist will make adjustments to the crown to achieve a good fit. If they are satisfied, they will use a bonding substance or cement to secure the crown on the tooth.
Taking care of your dental crown after installation is simple. You only need to carry on with your oral health habits of brushing and flossing your teeth daily. But you could avoid foods like candy and hard nuts to prevent damaging or weakening the crown.
Find an Experienced Dentist Near Me
Do you have a damaged tooth and seek a restoration solution in Encino?
It is advisable to consult with a skilled dentist for advice and guidance. Your dentist can recommend veneers or crowns, depending on the nature and extent of the damage. Our Experienced dentists at Lasting Impressions Dental Spa are always ready to examine your teeth, explain your options, and devise a detailed treatment plan. Call us at 818-751-5100 to discuss more about our services.