I have a question about my recent smile makeover. I thought the dentist would use porcelain veneers, but the porcelain goes all the way around my teeth. Are these actually porcelain crowns? Is it normal to use crowns for a procedure done for purely cosmetic reasons? My teeth were discolored, but otherwise sound. Since the makeover, I’ve seen a couple of the dentists in the office where my kids get their routine care, and they say the use of crowns for this situation is normal, and seem very impressed with the work. What is your opinion?
Bruce in Newark
There is not a rigid definition of when a veneer becomes a crown—the difference between a crown and a veneer is a matter of degree only. Both take about the same amount of work to place, and the fees are often the same or very close to it.
I am a little surprised that your dentist did not explain his treatment plan to you before you had the work done. When you ask about this—and I do suggest that you ask, for your own peace of mind—I would expect there to be a good reason for going with a more aggressive form of treatment. Most cosmetic dentists will choose the most conservative treatment plan available to meet their ends, and porcelain veneers are definitely more conservative than crowns. For dental crowns, your natural teeth must be substantially reduced, while for veneers, only a thin shaving of the front surface of your teeth is necessary.