Should I get a porcelain veneer or a crown?

I had a minor accident that chipped one of my front teeth. And I didn’t realize it but I guess I grind my teeth so the chip seems to be getting larger. When I saw the dentist, he said I should get a porcelain crown or a veneer. I was told that my insurance would cover the crown, but not the veneer. I really want it to be done right and am not the most concerned about what insurance covers or doesn’t. So if I’m 20 years old, what would you recommend? I am also supposed to be getting a mouth guard to help with the night grinding.

– Rachel in Texas


Both a porcelain crown and a porcelain veneer, if done by an experienced cosmetic dentist, will look natural and beautiful. Although, each treatment does have its pros and cons. Porcelain veneers are a less invasive way to improve the appearance of the tooth. There isn’t much tooth preparation required, which makes the treatment less traumatic overall. Veneers help to improve many imperfections like minor alignment issues, staining, and small chipped or worn teeth. The veneer itself is comprised of a very thin shell of porcelain, approximately the size of a fingernail, or less than one millimeter in thickness. It is bonded directly to the tooth with dental bonding. One of the disadvantages (other than your insurance will not cover it) is that if you grind your teeth, it does have the potential to break or chip the veneer. If that happens, then the veneer will need to be replaced. So that is one of the major drawbacks for those that grind their teeth or deal with other TMJ symptoms.

When you are considering a porcelain crown, it will end up being more traumatic of the two procedures. This is because the tooth must be reshaped so that the crown can be bonded to the tooth surface. This means a large portion of the natural tooth structure is drilled away to ensure a perfect fit. A porcelain crown is typically about two millimeters thick but it is much stronger than a veneer. A crown can sustain grinding and pressure from grinding or clenching. I’m glad to hear you will be getting a mouth guard. This will help to preserve any cosmetic dentistry or other dental work that you have done.

Make sure you ask your dentist to see his credentials. Since this is a front tooth you are dealing with, it will be very visible. You want to make sure this dentist is very experienced in addressing cosmetic dentistry concerns.

This post is sponsored by Phoenix dentist Arthur Chal Esthetic and Reconstructive Dentistry.

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