What’s the Difference Between Dental Veneers, Crowns and Implants?

the Difference Between Dental Veneers, Crowns and Implants

If you have missing, chipped or badly decayed teeth, you may be wondering what are the options available to repair your smile. 

Depending on your particular situation there are several options to consider. 

These options will fall under the umbrella of either a restorative or cosmetic treatment. Restorative dentistry repairs and reconditions the teeth and gums, while cosmetic dentistry is purely to improve the appearance of your teeth. 

Here is an overview of your choices for repairing and restoring damaged teeth and what their benefits are.

What are Dental Veneers?

Dental veneers attach to the front surface of your teeth to improve the appearance of your teeth. They are thin layers of either porcelain or resin that cover the front of an existing tooth and are shaped to fit neatly in next to the other teeth. 

Ceramic or porcelain veneers tend to look more realistic and last longer than composite resin veneers that are made out of a mix of plastic and glass. This means porcelain veneers are more expensive than resin veneers and will last longer. Porcelain veneers can last from 10 to 12 years, while resin veneers will last from 4 to 6 years. 

Important points to remember:

If your teeth and gums are healthy and in good condition, veneers can be used to cover chipped, broken, crooked, stained, or discoloured teeth, or teeth with a gap between them. They are used primarily to improve the appearance and not to repair the tooth. If you clench or grind your teeth, veneers might not be suitable as they can chip and damage the veneer.

While veneers don’t ruin your teeth, it’s important to make sure you look after the veneers as you will need them for the life of the tooth. Once the enamel is shaved off it won’t grow back. If the veneer does loosen, wear out, break or fall off it will need to be replaced with another veneer. Make sure to keep up a good oral hygiene routine and brush and floss daily. 

Are veneers painful to get?

As dental veneers are placed on top of your existing tooth, the tooth must have a thin layer of enamel removed while you are numbed from the local anaesthetic. It is a minimally invasive treatment that can be uncomfortable but not painful.

How long does getting veneers take?

This procedure can be completed in two visits to the dentist. It is a fast and effective way to improve the appearance of your teeth and your overall smile with minimal preparation and cost. 

Main benefits of getting dental veneers:

Veneers are used purely for cosmetic reasons and are an easy and affordable way to whiten and straighten teeth. They cover teeth chips, cracks, and discolouration with very little enamel removed from the original tooth. Veneers can also be customised to fit your facial symmetry and style.

“The choice between crown and veneer is made on what your expectations are for your smile. We prefer to keep it as conservative as possible. 

My firm belief is to keep things simple enough to get your desired result.”

Dr Gautam Herle

What are Dental Crowns?

Dental crowns, also known as dental caps, are a tooth-shaped covering made of porcelain, ceramic, glass or metal that covers the original tooth. It is used to cover a tooth that is decayed, weak, stained, odd-shaped, has a large filling, is cracked or broken and needs to be held together, or has a root canal where there isn’t much of the tooth left and it needs to be reinforced. 

They are also used when a person needs a bridge to cover a missing tooth or to hold a denture in place. Dental crowns are used when there is no alternative to filling the cavity or repairing a broken or decayed tooth.

Important points to remember:

Crowns are an effective way to keep and protect the original tooth. They improve the appearance of the tooth and are more stain-resistant than natural teeth, however, they still can stain over time if exposed to coffee, red wine or smoking.  

Like with veneers, you need to look after the dental crown by brushing and flossing daily. While the crown won’t be susceptible to decay, the tooth under it still is and needs good oral hygiene to keep it stable. If well looked after a crown can last 15 years or more. However, sometimes they can break off if the cement doesn’t work or the tooth underneath becomes decayed.

Are dental crowns painful to get?

The preparation for getting a crown is done using a local anaesthetic with no pain involved, only mild discomfort. When the crown is placed over the original tooth and cemented on you are numbed first and it is not painful.  

How long does it take to get a dental crown?

The procedure requires two appointments with a 2 to 3-week wait in between for the technician to make the crown. 

At the first appointment the tooth is prepared and a layer of the tooth is removed for the crown to fit on top of it. Then a mould of the tooth is made for the technician to create the crown and match the size and colour of the original tooth, ensuring it will blend in with the rest of your teeth. While the dental crown is being made you may receive a temporary crown. When the final one is ready it will be fitted over the tooth with dental adhesive cement at the second appointment.

Main benefits of getting dental crowns:

Dental crowns are often a definitive way to make a weak tooth stronger. They relieve discomfort for a tooth that has enamel or structural damage in one fairly simple treatment. It is always better to keep the original tooth if possible. A dental crown prevents a tooth from being extracted and then requiring a dental implant later on. The crowns are custom made to fit your teeth and restore the appearance of your smile for many years to come. 

What are Dental Implants?

A dental implant is an artificial root that is surgically screwed into your jawbone beneath your gums as a replacement root for a dental crown or tooth to go on top. It is a restorative procedure for a missing, chipped or decayed tooth that can’t be fixed with traditional dentures or a crown.

 It is placed and fused with the jawbone through a process called osseointegration. This process ensures the dental implant remains firmly in place in the bone. It helps create a new tooth that looks and feels like a natural tooth.

Important points to remember:

Dental implants are a great way to create a whole new tooth. It is an involved procedure with a higher cost, however, the results are very effective. The most popular type of dental implant is made from a titanium post that is embedded in the jawbone with an attached porcelain tooth dyed to match the colour and appearance of the surrounding teeth and shaped to match your bite pattern. Because the root is fused with the bone it is the most stable and secure form of tooth replacement.

Dental implants have three parts:

  1. The titanium implant.
  2. The abutment post that connects the implant and the crown.
  3. A crown, which acts as the tooth.

How long does it take to get a dental implant?

Even though getting dental implants can be a long and complex procedure, it is worth the wait. Initially, the dental implant is fitted into the jawbone with a minor operation using a local anaesthetic that takes around 1 to 2 hours. 

The anaesthetic ensures you don’t feel any pain during the surgery. Then the bone needs to grow around the dental implant which can take around 3 months. When the implant is secure and stable, the foundation for the new tooth is created.

If it has been a while since there was a tooth missing the bone may need a bone graft. A bone graft is a surgical procedure that builds up or replaces the bone that has been lost while the tooth was missing. Because dental implants are anchored straight into the jaw, they need enough healthy bone tissue to remain stable and secure. This procedure needs to be completed a few months before the titanium post can be embedded.  

What are the steps involved in getting a dental implant?

  1. Initially, scans, x-rays and 3-D imaging are completed to determine where to place the implant.
  2. During a minor operation, the dental implant is fitted into the jawbone.
  3. After a few months, the bone grows around the dental implant.
  4. When the implant is stable, a foundation for the new tooth is created.
  5. A mould of the mouth is taken to make the artificial tooth.
  6. Finally, the artificial tooth is screwed or cemented into the foundation.

Are dental implants painful to get?

While there is some pressure or discomfort during the actual implant procedure the local anaesthesia numbs the nerves surrounding the dental implant area and no pain can be felt. 

For 3 to 5 days afterwards, there may be swelling and bruising of the gums and from there the sensitivity and inflammation should subside relatively quickly. It is advised to get plenty of rest and to stay hydrated. After a week the implant will settle and begin to fuse with the jawbone with little or no discomfort. 

Main benefits of dental implants:

Dental implants are built to last, they look natural and are permanently fused to your jawbone. They behave like natural teeth and therefore have no issues like uncomfortable dentures that can cause slurred or awkward speech or difficulty chewing or eating. The natural bone surrounding the implant remains protected and promotes bone growth. Most of all, you get to keep your natural-looking smile and face shape.

“Before one goes and decides on getting an implant, have you asked yourself if the reasons for losing the tooth have been managed? What’s stopping you from losing the implant or another tooth?

Our process of giving you an implant starts with the basics of preventive dentistry.

How can we prevent further damage to teeth and loss of teeth?”

Dr Gautam Herle

What is best for you?

These are a few solutions for correcting or restoring teeth that are missing, chipped or badly decayed. To decide which is the best treatment for your teeth and gums it is a good idea to consider all your options and have an honest discussion with your dentist about what you are hoping to achieve and what your budget is. Here at Myers Street Dental, we offer all these dental treatments and more. We work with you to implement a plan that best suits your needs, whether it be restorative or cosmetic dental work to repair your smile.

Article by Gautam Herle

Dr Herle loves it when patients understand what is happening in their mouth, when there is no hesitation to continue with treatment that is important because it makes sense, knowing and understanding the difference it could make in one’s life.