What are the Differences between a Dental Crown, a Filling, and a Porcelain Veneer?

General & Cosmetic Dentists Serving Omaha, Bellevue, Lincoln and Nearby Nebraska

Posted: January 7, 2020

Restoring teeth and creating beautiful smiles are what our dentists do every day. We want you to enjoy your very best oral health and a smile you are proud to share. Crowns, fillings and veneers are three common restorative items in our toolkit. Learn about the differences in the sections below.

Dental Fillings Restore the Area Where a Cavity was Treated

Illustration showing a composite white filling in a toothTeeth fillings restore the tooth structure that is removed when a cavity is treated. The cavity itself has already created a pit in the tooth, and then a margin of tooth needs to be removed when the cavity is eliminated. That leaves a depression in the tooth that must be filled.

Fillings help you chew, especially on the top of the molars, where a lot of force is exerted when you eat. They can be placed on front or back teeth, however.

The majority of fillings placed today are composite fillings. They are tooth-colored and bonded to the tooth. Metal fillings are not tooth-colored,  and they are packed into the tooth and are not as common these days. Composite fillings are matched to the color of your teeth, so there's no "metal mouth" when you smile.

Dental Crowns Restore and Protect Vulnerable Teeth

Illustration of a dental crown restoration hovering over the teethYou may have heard these referred to as "caps," which is a good description of what dental crowns do. They are placed over the top of your tooth, much like a cap on a barrel. They tend to be larger and cover more area than a dental filling. They have a wide variety of purposes, including:

  • To hold a broken tooth together
  • To prevent a weak and vulnerable tooth from breaking
  • To cover a misshapen tooth
  • To cover discolored teeth
  • As the top of a dental implant to replace a missing tooth
  • As part of a dental bridge to replace missing teeth

Dental crowns are durable, long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing. Like composite fillings, crowns are matched to the color of your teeth, so they don't stick out in your smile.

Porcelain Veneers Conceal Cosmetic Flaws on the Surface of Teeth

3D image showing two porcelain veneers side by sideUnlike crowns and fillings, porcelain veneers are considered a strictly cosmetic dental innovation. They don't do much to protect or restore vulnerable teeth, but they do an excellent job at concealing unattractive flaws or imperfections, such as:

  • Worn teeth
  • Stained teeth
  • Gaps between teeth
  • Crooked teeth
  • Cracked teeth
  • Chipped teeth
  • Misshapen teeth
  • Teeth that are too small or too short

Veneers are really versatile. A single veneer can conceal multiple problems on a tooth. So, for example, a tooth that is both yellow and chipped can be hidden with one veneer.

The process to place veneers is completed over the course of just a few appointments: the consultation, prepping the tooth, and an appointment to place the final veneers. Veneers are also quite durable and can last for a decade or longer. Be sure to care for them properly, including brushing and flossing like normal, and avoiding habits like chewing on ice cubes.

Ready to Rejuvenate Your Smile in Omaha?

Our experienced dentists have decades of combined experience. There are four practice locations, making it possible to reach more people across our region. To schedule an appointment so you can get on the path to restoring your teeth, please call us in Hillsborough: 402-445-4647; in Ralston: 402-733-4441; in Village Pointe: 402-505-7474; and in Dundee: 402-502-5593.