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Veneers and Crowns

What are Veneers?

Veneers are thin pieces of specially shaped porcelain or composite used to improve the shape, position, colour and contours of the front teeth thereby improving the overall smile.

Dental veneer can be considered in the following situations to:

  1. Close spaces between teeth
  2. Strengthen broken, chipped and worn teeth
  3. Change the colour of stained or discoloured teeth
  4. Correct minor alignment of the front teeth

There are 2 types of veneers, composite veneers and porcelain veneers.

Composite Veneers

These are resin veneers made from plastic, that are applied to the front surfaces of the teeth. They are made and bonded to the teeth in one visit and do not require the work to the sent to a dental laboratory. They are strong and durable and are a very effective option to reshape teeth, repair fractures or close the gaps between the teeth. The colour of the veneer is matched to your teeth.

The advantages of Composite Veneers are:

  1. More cost effective.
  2. Minimal or no preparation of the teeth is required as the material is bonded to the teeth.
  3. Simple procedure that can be completed in one visit.

Disadvantages of Composite Veneers:

  1. Not as strong as porcelain.
  2. Less resistant to chipping.
  3. Porous material that incorporates more stains which causes them to discolour and require replacement over time.
  4. Lose their lustre and need to be regularly polished.
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Porcelain Veneers

These are ceramic veneers that are fabricated in the laboratory. They require the teeth to the prepared. Impressions have to be taken of the prepared teeth and then the porcelain veneer is manufactured and subsequently glued permanently to the surface of the prepared teeth.

The process needs to be done over 2 visits a couple of weeks apart. A temporary veneer is provided while the fabrication process is occurring. The aesthetics of a porcelain veneer is excellent as the material properties of porcelain are superior to composite resin.

Porcelain is highly durable and resistant to staining and chipping. They require less maintenance than composite veneers as they do not change colour or lose their shine. The initial cost is more but as the ongoing costs are less it makes it a cost effective option to composite veneers.

How long do Veneers last?

Veneers are long lasting options provided they are cared for. Porcelain veneers last 10 plus years. Composite veneers have a life span of 3-5 years. Life span of any dental restoration depends on the following factors:

  1. Health of the gums – if there is gum disease the gums will recede and this will affect how the veneer looks.
  2. Clenching and grinding of teeth either during the day or night will place excessive loading on the veneers causing it to chip or break.
  3. Dental decay around the edges of the veneer will affect the bond of the veneer to the tooth. Having a good diet and oral hygiene will prolong the lifespan of the veneer.
  4. Trauma to the tooth from a fall or injury can chip or break the veneer.


What are Crowns?

A dental crown also referred to as a “cap” is permanently bonded onto a particular tooth to strengthen the tooth and to improve the aesthetics. Dental crowns are usually an excellent option to prevent teeth from breaking and splitting as it prevents the different parts of a tooth from flexing away from each other especially in teeth that are heavily filled.

Dental crowns can be made from the following materials:

  1. Full gold crown: Gold is the best material for a crown in terms of strength and durability. However the golden colour is not aesthetic and costs more depending on the price per gram of gold.
  2. Full porcelain crowns: Best aesthetics for front teeth as they provide a perfect match to natural healthy teeth. For back teeth stronger ceramics are used that are less aesthetic but still tooth coloured.
  3. Porcelain fused to metal crowns: Best combinations of strength and aesthetics as it has a metal substructure and porcelain to make it look tooth like.

Based on your case, the particular tooth and what forces those teeth are subjected to, will determine the best material to use for a crown.

How long do dental crowns last?

Dental crowns are a long lasting option provided they are cared for. They usually last for 10 plus years. Life span of any dental restoration depends on the following factors:

  1. Health of the gums – if there is gum disease the support of the tooth is affected which then affects the longevity of the crown. Further if the gums recede, this will affect how the crown looks.
  2. Clenching and grinding of teeth either during the day or night would place excessive loading on the crown causing it to chip or break. The issue of clenching and grinding will need to be addressed to prolong the life of the crown.
  3. Dental decay around the edges of the crown will require the crown to be replaced. Hence it is important to ensure all the causative factors of dental diseases like diet and oral hygiene is maintained to prolong the lifespan of the crown.
  4. Trauma to the tooth from a fall or injury can chip or break the crown.
  5. Good material choices from the outset based on the condition and factors in your mouth ensures longevity of the crown.

What is involved in having a dental crown at the dental gallery?

The process involves 3 steps:

  1. Comprehensive assessment of your teeth and gums and a detailed assessment of the tooth that requires the crown including x-rays are essential in planning for a dental crown.
  2. Preparation of the tooth to the desired shape and taking an impression of the preparation in one appointment. This impression/mould is then sent to a dental laboratory for the fabrication of the crown. A temporary crown is made on the same day as the preparation, to place on the prepared tooth to ensure that it is protected while the permanent crown is being fabricated.

Two weeks later the permanent crown arrives from the laboratory and is fitted and bonded in place.