Oral & Vision Health Blog

What are the Differences Between a Dental Crown and a Veneer?


Options. If there is ever a word that describes one of the most significant benefits of the times we live in, it’s options. From having hundreds of television channels to watch to an endless parade of grocery items, we are surrounded by many choices our parents or grandparents never had. Dental care is no different. Today, there are many attractive ways to treat and restore your teeth. For instance, you or one of your household members may decide whether to get a crown, a veneer, or both. But what are the differences between a dental crown and a veneer? While they do have some similarities, these two restorations vary in their design and purpose, their preparation and placement, and their cost. Read more to understand the differences in detail and make the right choice for you and your family. 


Design and purpose

A dental crown is a cover or “cap” that fits over a tooth. It’s typically made of porcelain or porcelain, along with other restorative dental materials. It’s one of the many ways of restoring a tooth that has been damaged due to an accident, is weak and on the edge of breaking, or has broken due to decay. A cap is also used to anchor a bridge and cover dental implants.

Veneers are made from porcelain and composite resin. They use a thinner layer of porcelain than crowns, and they only cover one side of the tooth's surface rather than fitting around the entire tooth. They are ideal for fixing cosmetic issues, such as stained, chipped or misshapen teeth.

Preparation and Placement

To prepare your tooth for the crown, your dentist will start by treating the damage to the tooth and then adjusting the shape of the tooth. For example, a dentist may perform a root canal on your tooth. Then, he or she will file down that tooth to the appropriate size and shape. Following that, your dentist will take an impression of the tooth (or teeth) and then send it off to a lab or utilize an onsite lab. While the cap is being made, you will have to wear a temporary one until the permanent one is complete.

The process of getting a veneer bears some similarities but is undoubtedly different. The dentist removes a very thin layer of enamel from the tooth (teeth) being treated and then applies temporary veneers while the permanent ones are made. That may take about 10 days. Sometimes, the dentist will have the patient wear the temporary ones for a bit longer to allow the gums to heal before applying the permanent ones. 


A cap usually costs between $800 and $1,500 or more per tooth, depending on the location of the tooth, the dentist you use, and your dental insurance plan. It typically lasts from 5 to 15 years or longer.

Veneers are a bit more expensive, costing anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 per tooth, and last for 10 to 15 years. Patients should note that smoking and caffeine stain natural tooth surfaces more quickly than this restoration, so limiting both will help eliminate uneven color.

The key to making the right decision is clearly understanding your choices. After that, the decision gets more manageable. If you are being presented with these two restorations as part of your dental treatment plan, remember that both are great options to restore your smile and confidence. Understanding the differences between a cap and a veneer will help you decide which option to choose. Caps are often necessary to prevent teeth from breakage that would require extraction, while veneers are used more often to correct cosmetic issues. Because both options can be expensive, get good dental insurance and take advantage of extended payment plans, which can help defray the cost and provide you and your family with healthy and beautiful smiles. 

  Free Q&A Sheet - Dental Crowns

Related Topics

What is a dental crown?

Treatment and Procedures: Dental Crown

The Pros and Cons of Dental Veneers

What is Cosmetic Dentistry?