I was planning on getting crowns on my two front teeth so they were prepared last week. But now I want porcelain veneers instead. Is it possible to get veneers on these stubs I have now?

– Sherry in Missouri


Unfortunately since your teeth have already been prepared dental crowns, that is the only treatment that will be sufficient. It’s too late to change your mind and go with porcelain veneers. Since they have been shaved down, they will always need to have crowns now.

Maybe your dentist didn’t thoroughly explain the difference between veneers and crowns. A porcelain veneer is a very thin wafer of porcelain that is bonded to the front of the tooth. They only require a very tiny amount of the tooth’s surface to be prepared, about the thickness of a fingernail. Whereas for a porcelain crown, the entire tooth is prepared and only about a millimeter portion of the tooth is left so the crown completely covers the entire surface.

Most expert cosmetic dentists will make a clear differentiation between veneers and crowns. But sometimes dentists will talk about porcelain veneers and then prepare the teeth for crowns. The mindset here is that they would veneer the front, side, and back of the tooth (which in the mind of the majority of dentists) is if the entire surface is covered, it should be referred to as a crown. And to make it even more confusing, sometimes the cost is the about the same between the two treatments.

Most reputable dentists will want to leave as much of your natural tooth structure in tact. When a tooth is prepared for a crown, it is an aggressive approach, if an alternative treatment would have accomplished the same goals. Most excellent cosmetic dentists will agree that a porcelain veneer should only ever require a tiny portion of about 0.5 millimeter (on average) to be removed. This is quite minimal and done without numbing. Unless there is a spacing or orientation issue with a tooth. Then, it may require slightly more preparation.

A porcelain crown is appropriate on back teeth to protect the tooth from stress. But on the front tooth, a crown can actually weaken the tooth.

Thank you for your question. Hopefully, it wasn’t more confusing and will be beneficial to someone else that is trying to decide between these two cosmetic dentistry treatment options.

This post is sponsored by Atlanta cosmetic dentist Flax Dental.