Fig.3 Fig.4
Fig.5 Fig.6
Fig.7 Fig.8
Fig.9 Fig.10
Dental Education Lecture: Porcelain Veneers & Crowns

Veneers and crowns are used to improve cosmetics of our front teeth.  Veneers are more conservative than crowns in term of tooth preparation.  To make a veneer, the front surface of the tooth is thinned out approximately 180 degrees (Fig.2), whereas to make a crown, an evenly thin layer of the tooth needs to be removed at 360 degrees.  There is more contact surface areas for the crown and the tooth.  The crown is less likely to come out than the veneer.  With improvement of adhesive (glue used to cement veneers/crowns), the difference is not much any more.  Therefore, the dentist basically treat veneers and crowns as synonyms.  He or she makes decision of making veneers or crowns during tooth preparation.   Veneers and crowns made of porcelain look natural.

Veneers/crowns can be used to restore single (Fig.5, 6), two (Fig.1-4) and several (Fig.7, 8) teeth.  The first patient wants to close a gap between two front teeth (Fig.1).  After removing a thin layer of the teeth (Fig.2), we take impression.  The final result is shown in Fig.3.  She is ecstatic.  The veneers look like new five years of use (Fig.4). 

The second patient chips one front tooth when he is bumping into a glass door (Fig.5, 7).  We make a single veneer.  Fig.6 photo is taken one year and a half after veneer cementation.  The tooth and gums look healthy.  We could place a white filling (composite) for the chip, but the composite may not stay put very well and it also changes color sooner than the veneer. This single veneer functions 6.5 years after cementation (Fig.8).

Some of adult patients have tooth alignment problems.  Ideally they need traditional orthodontic treatment (braces).  It takes time, 2-3 years.  In contrast, multiple veneers fix the problems instantly, in reality 2-3 weeks.  The procedure may be called instant orthodontics.  The third patient has several gaps between upper and lower front teeth (Fig.9).  He does not like composite veneers for the bottom teeth.  Cosmetic veneers/crowns meet his desire in a timely manner (Fig.10).  We can also use veneers/crowns to fix discoloration.

Adult Dental Care

Xin Wei, DDS, PhD, MS 1st edition 02/02/2009, last revision 08/07/2016