Both crowns and veneers can be used to improve the look of a tooth. If your tooth is badly damaged and in need of additional support, your dentist will certainly recommend a crown, since a veneer won't provide this support. But there are other cases in which the choice may be up to you. If you're in this situation and need to decide whether to have a tooth covered in a crown or a veneer, here are some questions to ask yourself. Your answers will help you decide.
Can you see the back side of the tooth when you smile?
Veneers only cover the front of the tooth, whereas crowns cover the entire tooth. For a front tooth, the two will have about the same final look. But if it's a canine or premolar that's in question, you may want to go with a crown rather than a veneer since the crown will improve the appearance of all surface of the tooth -- which can be seen when you open your mouth.
How good are you about caring for your teeth?
A crown completely covers the tooth, protecting it from future decay. This could be a benefit if you are not that great with dental hygiene. (Although you should not take it as an excuse to be more lax with your hygiene.) On the contrary, a veneer leaves the back of your tooth exposed, so you could still experience decay and deterioration in that tooth. You'll have to keep up with your dental hygiene to prevent future damage.
Where is the tooth damaged?
If the tooth is damaged on the front side, then a veneer may be a great solution for covering up the damage. If the back side of the tooth is chipped or otherwise damaged, a veneer may hide the appearance of this damage since it sits in the front of the tooth. However, it won't change the way the damage feels against your tongue. If you think the rough chip will bother you, then you may wish to cover the tooth in a dental crown.
If you are still not sure whether a veneer or crown is the better choice, talk to your dentist. They can give you an estimate for both options and also let you know what each may mean for the future health of your tooth. The process of having both applied is painless and easy.