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Dental crowns: types, costs and treatment

Veneers and dental crowns are both ceramic shells that repair and beautify teeth. But what's the difference between them? When should you opt for one over the other? We describe the differences between veneers and crowns below.

Reading time: 8min

Topic: Crowns, products and offers

Tooth crown

What are dental crowns or tooth caps?

A dental crown, often known simply as a crown, is a type of dental restoration. Dental fillings alone are often not sufficient to repair a natural tooth that has been damaged, for instance by an accident or tooth decay. In these cases, a crown is placed on top of the damaged teeth or tooth like a cap. Since ceramic shells can be used in a variety of ways, sometimes it's possible to use veneers instead of crowns.

Dental crowns: restoring aesthetics and function

For crowns, the missing or damaged part of the tooth is artificially reproduced and then placed on top of the remaining natural tooth. This restores the original form of the tooth and reproduces the aesthetics and functionality of the bite. To be a candidate for dental crowns, you need to have healthy gums and stable roots.

Common reasons for dental crowns

Correcting teeth with dental crowns is a very common treatment at the dentist's office. The most common reasons for getting a crown for one's teeth are:

  • Tooth decay
  • Worn down teeth, for example due to accidents or excessive nocturnal grinding
  • Stabilising teeth after treatment, e.g. following an endodontic treatment
  • To protect natural teeth and the patient's bite when using dental prostheses or bridges
  • Aesthetic corrections of the front teeth

What kind of dental crowns are there?

There are different types of dental crowns. They differ in the following ways:

  • Colour and material
  • Size
  • How they are attached

Dentists distinguish between the following types of crowns:

  1. Full cast crown
  2. Veneered crown
  3. All resin crown
  4. All ceramic crown

These types of crowns have slight differences and are used for different types of dental correction.

  Full cast crown Veneered crown All resin crown All ceramic crown
Material

Precious metal alloys (e.g., gold) or alloys without precious metal (e.g., chrome)

Metal frame covered with tooth-coloured ceramic or resin

Resin

Ceramic or zirconium

Used for

Back teeth, areas that aren't visible

Versatile, most commonly used tooth crown

More of a longer-term temporary solution than a true tooth replacement

Visible teeth

Price

Inexpensive

Mid-range

Most inexpensive

Most expensive

The different materials offer different advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages full cast crown

  • Long-lasting
  • Thin

Disadvantages full cast crown

  • Material transfers warm and cold sensations to the tooth
  • Can lead to metallic taste in the mouth
  • Stands out

Advantages veneered crown

  • Stable
  • Long-lasting

Disadvantages veneered crown

  • Visible metal edges
  • Wide crown wall

Advantages all resin crown

  • Good value

Disadvantages all resin crown

  • Delicate
  • Quickly becomes discoloured

Advantages all ceramic crown

  • Natural
  • Aesthetic result
  • Biocompatible
  • Not bacteria-prone

Disadvantages all ceramic crown

  • Not long-lasting

What are CEREC crowns?

CEREC stands for “Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics”, which is sometimes simply referred to as ceramic restoration. In other words, it’s an “efficient restoration with aesthetic ceramics directly at the dental chair”. Simply put, a CEREC crown is a ceramic dental crown that is produced using a special computer-assisted process.

How is a CEREC crown made?

CEREC is a high-tech device that mills a dental crown from a ceramic blank. When crafting a CEREC crown, the teeth are first scanned digitally to create an impression, which is then utilized to design the dental restoration on a computer.

At bestsmile, we also manufacture all our ceramic teeth using the latest technology and 3D impression processes. Have a look at our Veneers page to learn more about the process at bestsmile.

Advantage and costs of CEREC crowns

On average, a ceramic CEREC crown costs around 500 francs. However, the price can vary greatly depending on the provider. The advantage of a CEREC crown is that the data is digital. This means that whenever possible, existing scans can be used. By the way, all the data is also fully digital at bestsmile.

Material: full ceramic or metal crown?

Crowns can be manufactured from different materials. Depending on the situation, some materials are more suitable than others. If you need to replace your front teeth, it is recommended to choose a material with good colour properties. However, more robust material is recommended for the molars, as they require more stability.*

Partial and full crowns

Dental crowns can vary depending on the size and how much restoration they need to achieve. A full crown covers the entire tooth: it is placed on the stump of the tooth like a cap. In contrast, a partial crown only covers part of the natural tooth.

Veneers also only cover one part of the tooth – the visible part – and may wrap slightly around the edges depending on the patient's situation. Here the difference between a partial crown and a veneer is how much needs to be removed from the natural tooth. Usually slightly more tooth enamel needs to be removed for a partial crown as compared to a veneer.

Attaching dental crowns

Crowns are attached differently depending on the material, the area of the mouth and the patient's dental situation

1. Cementing or glueing

Veneered crowns and metal crowns are usually cemented or glued in place. In the process, the crown is screwed onto the implant or placed onto a pin or a stump and fixed in place with medical cement or glue.

2. Dental pins

For severely damaged teeth, cementing or glueing a crown often doesn't work. The crown only holds when a pin is implanted into the stump of the tooth. The pin provides an anchor for holding the crown in place.

Dental crowns or veneers? A comparison

In addition to crowns, aesthetic dental procedures are now making increasing use of veneers. Dentists decide whether crowns or veneers are more appropriate based on the patient's case, the condition of their natural teeth and where the damage is located (front or back teeth).

Veneers and crowns are different in several respects and offer different pros and cons.

Advantages of crowns

  • Long durability
  • Very robust
  • Functional
  • Looks similar to natural teeth
  • Protects against new damage

Disadvantages of crowns

  • Allergic reactions to specific materials
  • Need to remove enamel

Advantages of veneers

  • excellent aesthetics
  • Individual and custom made
  • Biocompatible, long-lasting material
  • Minimally invasive

Disadvantages of veneers

  • Costs often not covered by health insurance
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Good to know

The main difference between crowns and veneers has to do with how much enamel is removed and where they are applied.

  • Removal of tooth enamel: For veneers, usually only a minimal amount of enamel is removed. For crowns, the amount of enamel removed is typically much more due to the thickness of the crown walls.

  • Area of application: Veneers cannot be used if teeth are heavily damaged or have experienced too much decay.

  Crowns Veneers
Definition

Completely restores, preserves and protects the teeth or tooth

Beautifies the teeth

Used for

Functional or aesthetic reconstruction of a tooth, for instance in the case of tooth decay

Primarily an aesthetic treatment for front teeth, for instance in the case of tooth gaps

Material
  • Ceramic
  • Resin
  • Metal
  • Gold
  • Ceramic

  • Composite (resin/ceramic)**

Durability

10 years up to a lifetime. Depends on the material

Around 20 years or longer. Depends on care/maintenance and nutrition.

Treatment

Usually 2 appointments:

  1. Preparation
  2. Placement of the dental crown

Usually 3 appointments:

  1. Preparation
  2. Temporary veneers
  3. Placement of the veneers
Price

From CHF 1,000 to CHF 2,000 or more, depending on the material

From CHF 1,000 per piece

Recommended for
  • More extensive tooth damage
  • Correcting damage to the molars

small aesthetic corrections of the front teeth

**At bestsmile we exclusively use high-quality ceramics to produce our veneers and crowns.

Over the course of a veneer treatment, new crowns can be produced and applied to ensure that the patient ends up with a beautiful smile. Veneers cannot be directly applied to dental crowns, however. Both treatments require a natural, firmly rooted tooth. At bestsmile we exclusively use high-quality ceramics to produce our veneers and crowns.

How long do dental crowns last?

The expected lifetime of a tooth crown depends heavily on the material used. The stress placed on the tooth with the crown as well as the patient's oral hygiene can also have a big impact on how long a crown will last. This is the case with veneers as well.

Nutrition and care

Proper care is essential to ensure that your crowns are long-lasting. This includes brushing your teeth regularly and also cleaning between them. The place where the edge of the crown meets the gums can be especially sensitive and needs to be taken care of accordingly.

A healthy balanced diet not only keeps our natural teeth in top shape but also helps maintain the material of artificial teeth. A big advantage of crowns and veneers made from ceramic is that the material doesn't become discoloured, even if the patient drinks coffee or smokes.

How much do dental crowns cost in Switzerland?

The cost of tooth crowns varies depending on the producer and dentist's office, but generally starts at CHF 1,400 in Switzerland. Usually crowns tend to be a rather expensive dental treatment in Switzerland due to material costs and the dental work involved. Since crowns are usually used to correct tooth damage, the costs are often covered by health insurance.

Does my health insurance cover the costs of tooth crowns?

Veneers, on the other hand, are usually used for aesthetic reasons, which means that the costs are not reimbursed by most health insurers. If you're not sure whether your treatment will be covered, it is best to contact your health insurance company directly.

Prices for bestsmile Veneers and crowns

At bestsmile, crowns cost the same as Veneers and you can pay in convenient monthly instalments.

  • Price per veneer/crown, up to 6 pieces: CHF 1,200 (available from 2 pcs.)
  • From the 6th piece on: each additional one CHF 700

The price includes a 10-year guarantee as well as dental assistance from the first appointment to the final check-up.

More about Veneers pricing

Dental crowns: disadvantages and risks

The biggest downside of dental crowns is the need to slice your natural teeth. Depending on the material used for the crown, a significant portion of the natural tooth will have to be removed. This is often the case when the natural tooth is already heavily damaged. In some cases, this damages the nerve and leads to hypersensitivity of the teeth. At bestsmile, we always retain as much of the natural tooth enamel as possible.

Tooth crowns or veneers – which treatment is right for me?

You should discuss with your dentist whether a dental crown or a thinner ceramic shell is right for you. They will choose veneers or crowns depending on the kind of tooth correction you need.

Both treatments can be combined for an extremely natural appearance, a high level of functionality and a beautiful smile.

Crowns vs Veneers

Schedule your free appointment now and let the bestsmile team help you find the right solution.

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Last update: 24.07.2023

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