How Long Do Crowns or Veneers Last?


If you're trying to choose between crowns and veneers and wonder which of these will last longer, any indecision would be understandable. That's because in addition to longevity, the appropriate choice for any one person will vary in accordance with problem it will have to solve.

The Benefits of Veneers

Ceramic veneers are enjoying a renewed popularity, and many dental professionals have found that if properly maintained, they will generally last between 10 and 20 years before needing replacement.

Ceramic veneers could be the best choice for anyone whose teeth are relatively sound but unsightly due to:

  • Slight discolorations.
  • Unattractive spacing.
  • Cracked enamel.
  • Excessive or insufficient length.
  • Crooked placement.
  • Unsightly stains.
  • Moderate decay.

However, ceramic veneers are not for everyone. Poor candidates will include people who:

  • Have already lost a considerable amount of dental enamel. The process of placing veneers will involve some abrading of existing enamel, and if that abrasion would work its way through to the interior dentin, the placement of veneers is inadvisable.
  • Have seriously crooked teeth. Braces will always do better than veneers at correcting dental misalignment.
  • Tend to grind their teeth. The night-time tooth-grinding habit known as bruxism can exert as much as 500 pounds of pressure on dental work, and the fact that it happens during sleep makes it impossible to consciously control. Since veneers are as thin as a sheet of paper, the damage caused by bruxism could be extensive.
  • Are afflicted with numerous severe dental caries. When cavities become sufficiently deep, they can extend entirely through the enamel and into the dentin. Teeth that have lost a great deal of enamel are poor candidates for veneers.
  • Have teeth whose colors vary between shades of gray, yellow and white. Veneers have always been hard to match to surrounding teeth, and because they allow some underlying tooth color to show through, they won't do much to cover up this type of discrepancy.
Veneers do have another downside. When applied too thickly or with insufficient skill, they can make the teeth look bulky or overly large.

The Benefits of Crowns

Although they may seem sturdier on the face of it, crowns do not routinely enjoy the longevity of veneers. The general life expectancy of a dental crown will range between five and 15 years. However, some have been known to remain in service for up to three decades while others can last for a lifetime.

Crown failure can occur for many reasons. These include:

  • Decay of the underlying tooth.
  • Crown breakage resulting from bruxism, chewing hard objects or using the teeth as bottle openers.
  • Poor dental hygiene.
  • An underlying tooth that was already failing.
  • Periodontal disease.
  • Unsound adjacent teeth.
  • Poor physical health causing gum issues.
  • Dry mouth that leads to dental decay.

The material of which the crown is made will also play a role in extending its life. Gold crowns tend to be extremely durable. They are also thinner than crowns made of other materials, and their placement can be accomplished with less damage to the underlying tooth. However, where front teeth are concerned, many people prefer to wear crowns composed of a more natural looking material.

Porcelain crowns look like natural teeth, but they are less strong than are those made of gold. They also tend to be brittle and prone to cracking. Furthermore, because the material is harder than ordinary tooth enamel, porcelain crowns have been known to damage adjacent natural teeth.

Crowns made of porcelain fused to gold or zirconia present another option. These are stronger than crowns made of porcelain alone and therefore less likely to fracture. However, the tendency of the underlying material to show at the gumline will make them less desirable for cosmetic reasons.

Which Is Better, Crowns or Veneers?

If your teeth have suffered severe cracks or undergone root canal treatment, a crown will help to preserve what's left, keeping the tooth relatively intact by shielding it from further damage. In many cases, the placement of a crown means the difference between saving a tooth and losing it to extraction. However, it's important to keep in mind that preparing a tooth to receive a crown could necessitate the removal of up to 75 percent of the portion above the gumline.

On the other hand, when conditions are right, veneers are preferable to crowns for several reasons. The main benefit is the fact that their placement involves minimal invasion of the underlying teeth. They also have a talent for correcting minor misalignments.

If you'd like to improve your dental appearance with crowns or veneers, Dr. James White can assist you in making the proper choice. To take the first step toward the smile you've always wanted, call our office today to schedule an appointment. Your shiny new smile is waiting.