Many people with crowded teeth, or teeth with gaps or discolorations don’t know what to choose: dental crowns or dental veneers?
Firstly, the dental veneers will cover only the biting edge of the tooth and the front surface. In comparison, a dental crown will cover the entire tooth surface, going up to the gumline (or even beneath the gumline). The dental veneers will generally require very little tooth preparation- the dentist removes very little tooth structure, especially if the structure is relatively healthy, and it is only aesthetically problematic. However, at times dentists need to remove more of the structure of the tooth, if that respective tooth presented cracks, too much stain or any structural damages.
The greatest majority of dentists will agree that the use of the porcelain veneers (where possible of course!), allows for a much more conservative procedure than the use of the dental crowns. There are many different brands and types of dental veneers which are as thin as .3 mm, but which are extremely strong, so reconstruction will not only be aesthetically pleasing but also highly functional.
Dental veneers are not really recommended for teeth which have got many health problems such as decay or gum disease. In such cases, the dentist will perform first the treatment of the decay (filling, root canal therapy, etc.) and then will recommend dental crowns.
Basically, the main difference between dental crowns and dental veneers lies in the amount of tooth structure which needs to be removed for the restoration to take place. When teeth are badly compromised, then of course dental crowns will be used. Dental veneers will be generally used if the patient has badly broken/chipped teeth, if there is a very large amalgam filing present, or if the patient struggles with bruxism (grinding of the teeth). In such cases, the dental crown represents a more solid solution, but more of the tooth structure will be removed.
When the teeth are much healthier, the patient will also wish to maintain the natural structure of the teeth as much as possible, and then dental veneers represent the most conservative solution. Also, dental veneers represent a reversible treatment, especially if extremely thin veneers are chosen such as the Lumineers. In such cases, the dentist does not need to remove the enamel or make any other big changes to the structure of the tooth. If the patient will want to go back to his natural teeth, the veneers will be removed by the dentist.
As you can note, the best conservative dental treatment is represented by the dental veneers, but in some cases they are simply not recommended. The oral health of the patient might be much more protected, and the teeth made much stronger when dental crowns are chosen. Your dentist is the one who will suggest the best type of treatment in your case.