Happy Veneers PatientsVeneers and crowns are talked about quite a bit these days and I am here to explain what they are, when they are used, and how they can benefit you.  Dental technology has changed a lot in the last ten years and crowns and veneers have changed too. Crowns and veneers can reshape rotated or broken teeth and can totally change your smile and the color of your teeth to be beautifully white.

Both crowns and veneers are generally made of ceramic porcelain these days.  Every now and then you may see someone with a gold crown, but they are rarely used today because we have better materials. Gold has been used to fix teeth since the time of the Egyptians.  Thankfully science has caught up with us and we don’t have to use ancient technology anymore in your mouth.  Dental porcelain ceramics today are very strong, durable, and aesthetic.  Many of our porcelain crowns and veneers today are milled with CADCAM machines for even better precision and aesthetics.

First off let’s talk about what crowns are.   It seems like most people you know have at least one crown.  Crowns cover teeth in most of their entirety.  The white parts of the teeth that you can see in the mouth are covered with enamel.  This white part covered with enamel is called the crown of the tooth.  A dental crown made for you fits over most of the tooth and covers it with porcelain.  Think of it like full helmet for your tooth.  It really protects it.

Veneers are a little different than crowns.  While they are generally made of the same material as crowns, they serve a different purpose.  Veneers cover the white part of the tooth, but in a different way than crowns. While crowns cover the entire tooth, veneers only cover part of the tooth. Most of the time veneers only cover about half the tooth, and that half if usually the front half of the tooth that you can see when you smile.  They don’t go all the way around like a crown.

Any time a Portland dentist drills on your tooth they have to take away more of your natural tooth structure. When the dentist is preparing your tooth for a full crown, they have to drill away more tooth structure than when they are preparing the tooth for a veneer.  So, a veneer is a more conservative dental restoration than a crown.  If you have a choice, a veneer is a better restoration because it conserves more natural tooth structure.  When you have more natural tooth structure it is a good thing, because this decreases the risk of tooth fracture and root canals.

Now we can we get into why some people need crowns and why some people need veneers.   When we do full mouth crowns and veneers we generally need to put these restorations on all of the teeth that show when you smile.  Some people have small smiles and some people have really big smiles.  If the teeth need minor to moderate changes in appearance then veneers are a great option.  Veneers are great when the teeth have deep staining that is gray or yellow that just won’t come out with bleaching. Once stain gets deep into the tooth it is hard to get out with bleaching, and veneers can recolor them be to be an aesthetic white again.   If the teeth are slightly crowded in the front or a little chipped, then veneers can realign them and make them straight.  If the teeth have little gaps then veneers can fill those gaps.  Patients with big smiles will need to do top and bottom veneers to make everything match and look aesthetic.  Veneers become the new porcelain fronts to the tooth and when you smile it is beautiful.  They don’t have to look fake either.  We can make them look natural.  When someone sees you they will just think that you’ve got a great smile, not a fake one.

Crowns are very cool too.  If veneers can fix minor to moderate dental problems, then crowns can fix major ones. The majority of my patients come in and they have a lot of dental issues.  They have old, large silver fillings that are decades old that are leaking and starting to crack the teeth.  They have cavities under the old fillings too and in between their teeth where they are supposed to floss.  Cavities can even happen at the gum line. Many of these patients have numerous broken teeth in the front and back too. There may even be a tooth missing here and there in addition to all of this, and there may even be crowding or spacing that is unsightly. Full mouth crowns can transform these mouths and smiles. These are big overhauls.  Since there is so much destruction in these mouths, we need the crowns here because they cover more of the tooth enamel that has been destroyed, cavitated, and stained. We can do crowns for all of the teeth in the mouth if necessary.

Sleep Dentistry Portland Oregon Dr LampeeThere are also a couple of other reasons why patients may need crowns over veneers. For patients who grind and clench their teeth a lot, they need my strongest restoration possible.  Clenchers and grinders put an excessive amount of force on their teeth.  They also have worn their teeth down pretty bad.  This can lead to increased risk of fracture, cracks, and root canals. People clench and grind at night, but what is interesting, is that I find they actually do more of it during the day while they are working, driving, or at the gym.  Clenching is a stress reliever. For these patients crowns offer more protection than veneers.

The other reason why someone may need crowns over veneers is excess acid in the mouth.   Acid reflux is a big reason for excess acid in the mouth, and is also known as GERD.  Energy drinks and soda are part of the problem too.  Excess acid can soften and destroy enamel.  Acid from the stomach and beverages can bathe the entire white part of the tooth in very strong acid.  Over time this leads to chipping and sever wear.  These patients must have full coverage crowns.  The crown acts like a full helmet for the tooth and helps protect the tooth from the harmful acids.  The porcelains we are using today are very strong and resistant to stomach acid and also the acids in sugary drinks like soda and energy drinks.

Whether you end up needing crowns or veneers, rest assured that your teeth can look completely different than they are right now.  They can be white, straight, and unbroken.  They can be healthy again and you will be smile again.  With our streamlined processes your work and new smile can be done in about 24 hours.  Your new smile is closer than ever.

About Dr. Lampee

Dr Heath Lampee, DMD

Since 2007, my focus has been to see fewer patients and to give the patients I do see my undivided attention. I want to help patients overcome their fear of the dentist, improve their health, and be proud of their smiles!

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