Cosmetic Dentistry Blog Blog

August 29, 2015

This dentist wants to do gum surgery, while admitting she doesn’t understand the problem

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Dr. Hall,
My front teeth developed little ‘holes’ on the surface when I was a teenager and in my 20’s. I initially had some of them bonded. That was in the 80’s. This bonding yellowed with time. So my dentist suggested crowns and veneers. My 2 front upper teeth have veneers. The 2 teeth next to the front teeth on both sides have crowns. These were done in 2003.I had no problems with this until about 3 years ago. Suddenly the gums around these teeth became inflamed. I am now 49 years old. My dentist isn’t sure what is going on. We have tried an all natural antibacterial liquid (I forget the name) with no luck. I get my teeth cleaned faithfully every 6 months. Flossing every day doesn’t help resolve this. This inflammation improves at times and gets worse at times, but it never goes away completely. I do have other crowns in my mouth. On my bottom teeth on both sides I have 2 crowns and a bridge. I also have 2 other caps in molars on my upper teeth. There is also inflammation around those but not nearly as bad. The gums around the remainder of my natural teeth are just fine.
Could these changes be because I am in peri-menopause?

I find it odd that it took 10 years for this to occur. Also, my dentist suggested trimming back the gum tissue. She won’t guarantee that this will fix the problem. I think she wants to do it for cosmetic reasons. Or she may know there is a structural/mechanical problem with the fit of the crowns but doesn’t want to admit it. I don’t want to go through this gum procedure if it’s just a bandaid and the problem will return. So far all this inflammation has not caused full on gingivitis or bone damage (so they say). The gums sometimes get friable and look almost ulcerated. Also, on a side note a few months ago I developed lichen planus on the checks of my mouth (not in the front). This is very frustrating. Sometimes my gums are sore. Sometimes they look just terrible and you can see the red border around my front teeth. It seems my teeth have separated between 2nd and 3rd tooth on both sides counting from the front teeth.
Should I have this procedure? It’s only on the front teeth. What about the inflammation on the other crowns in the back? This is what makes me think it’s systemic. Again this is just around the crowns and veneers.
Any thoughts, suggestions?
Thanks for your time!
Donna from Philadelphia

Donna,
You have a very interesting question here.

When you have gum inflammation around teeth with crowns, there are about five possibilities that come to mind.

  • One is that the cement wasn’t fully cleaned out from around the crowns.
  • Another is that there is some problem with the fit of the crowns.
  • A third is that the crowns go too deeply under the gumline.
    For all three of these situations, the reaction would have been immediate–not delayed ten years.
  • Another possibility is to have some kind of allergic reaction to the material in the crowns. This would happen with porcelain fused to metal crowns where a cheap metal was used containing nickel or some base metal. Usually the metal sensitivity reaction is immediate, but it doesn’t have to be. But veneers should be all porcelain with no metal in them, and you are having the same reaction around the teeth with the veneers, so that seems highly unlikely.
  • The fifth possibility is simple gum disease, aggravated by some things that are going on with your general health. That’s not to say that the causes are simple, but that the disease is a common one and there are some straightforward things to do to address it.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of dentists who simply don’t pay that much attention to the health of the gums, and I am concerned that your dentist is saying that she doesn’t understand what is going on here.

I would recommend a second opinion for you. I don’t think this should be that mysterious–maybe to your dentist, but not to a dentist with strong knowledge about the gums. I would absolutely not let her do this gum surgery on you. I’m not impressed with her aggressive treatment for your yellowed bonding ten years ago. You’re a little suspicious that there might be some structural problem with the crowns that she doesn’t want to admit. That’s possible–there could be some irregularities in the fit of these crowns and veneers that aggravates the gum disease. Your being peri-menopause is probably a contributing factor, also. Hormone imbalances can exacerbate gum inflammation. You mentioned lichen planus. That condition is exacerbated by stress just as gum disease is. It’s possible that a good, thorough deep scaling of your teeth could take care of this, but I feel you need a dentist with more expertise.

Think about what your dentist is telling you–she doesn’t understand why this is happening and yet she wants to do gum surgery to address it. One of the most fundamental principles of health care is that you first diagnose, then you treat. Don’t let anyone attempt any kind of serious treatment here like gum surgery without first having a good diagnosis.

As I think over what you have told me, it’s a little puzzling why your dentist hasn’t referred you to a gum specialist (periodontist). You’re in Philadelphia. There have to be a number of gum specialists you could go see. Maybe she doesn’t want another dentist to see her work. Anyway, since she hasn’t referred you, just self-refer. Just find a periodontist with good reviews. If you have any doubts about who to pick, call a couple of well respected general dentists and ask what periodontists they refer to. Don’t ask your dentist for a name because of this suspicion we havethat she may be hiding something. But you do want the periodontist to contact your dentist after you’ve made the appoinemtn and get records that will help him or her assess what is going on.

And then get back to me, if you would, on what they find out. I’d be interested to know what is discovered about your condition.

– Dr. Hall

Click here to ask Dr. Hall a question of your own.

About David A. Hall

Dr. David Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does complete Internet marketing for dentists.

July 21, 2011

Cement left around my new crown

Filed under: Dental crowns — Tags: , , , — mesasmiles @ 2:40 pm

Dr. Hall
Is it common for a dentist to leave cement in a mouth that had a crown? My gums were hurting from the temporary crown. After the permanent crown was put on he said in a few weeks my gums would heal. They didn’t. I finally took tweezers and anything else I could find and pulled out a piece of cement under my gums. NOW my gums are healing. I felt instant relief after extacting this piece of cement. A 7 week ordeal.
– Mona from Texas

Mona,
This is a “no-no”, for a dentist to leave cement around a crown, and it will cause gum inflammation until it is removed.

I wouldn’t assume that you got all the cement but would make an appointment with the dentist, explain what happened, and say you want it checked carefully for any residual cement. If cement is left in there long-term, it can contribute to irreversible gum disease.
– Dr. Hall

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About David A. Hall

Dr. David Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does complete Internet marketing for dentists.

May 13, 2011

Gum inflammation after porcelain veneers – a big red flag.

Dr. Hall,
I got 8 veneers in December of 2010. My gums continued to be tender and slightly inflamed for several weeks and I asked my dentist if this was normal. He looked at my gums and told me I just wasn’t flossing my teeth with good enough technique, and that was why my gums were inflamed.

Then at the beginning of March, I noticed a fistula above tooth #10 so I contacted my dentist immediately. He took x-rays at that time and told me I have a root canal and needed it treated ASAP. He brought another dentist into his office to do the root canal treatment, so I assumed that the dentist was an endodontist. The root canal treatment took 4 hours and my gums remained inflamed for 3 weeks (fistula still there). When I went back to the dentist with my concern, he then told me I needed an apicoectomy. At this point I asked if the dentist who had performed the failed root canal treatment was an endodontist, and when I found out it was a general dentist I decided to seek out a second opinion from someone else.

I went to Dr. —– (a dentist on the mynewsmile.com referral list), who has referred me to an endodontist who is “the best.” Dr. —– told me that most likely the area will heal on its own and there is no need for an apicoectomy. He said my gums were inflamed because there was cement on the veneers that was causing my gums to stay chronically inflamed! After Dr. —– scraped that cement off, it has only been a few days and already my gums are less tender than they’ve been in months.

Now I’m really concerned that some major mistakes were made with my veneers because the dentist did no wax-up and was not able to address any of my concerns with the esthetic look of the veneers after the procedure. (One tooth appears chipped, and the dentist told me it was “just the anatomy of the tooth.” Another tooth feels like it is cracked. And I’m not completely sure if the teeth are all completely vertical because they look slightly slanted or off-centered. They definitely look better than my teeth looked before getting the veneers, but I can’t say that look perfect or absolutely stunning. They just look like normal teeth.)

Basically, I want my money back for what he did to my teeth! It sounds like he was negligent in leaving concrete on the veneers, which caused my gums to remain inflamed. And then he did NOTHING when I told him that my gums were red, sore, and inflamed until it was too late. And then he was negligent again by bringing a general dentist into his practice to perform a root canal. According to Dr. —–, the x-rays show that the dentist did an “overfill” on the root of tooth #10 and this was why he was wanting to do an apicoectomy. Is there anything I can do to get my money back for these chipped, cracked veneers which caused me to have a root canal?
Jamie from Southern California

Jamie,
You have quite the interesting story. You’re a good example for people looking for smile makeovers – showing the need for an expert cosmetic dentist. I wish I had money to run ads on TV warning about that.

When you told me your dentist’s answer to your gum inflammation was that you should floss more, I knew you were in trouble. For anyone doing porcelain veneers, this is a huge red flag and is a big indication that the dentist did something wrong. One of the criteria I use to evaluate the cosmetic dentistry of dentists I list on this website is the health of the gums in the “after” photographs – they should be at least as healthy afterwards as they were before, if the work is done right.

Here’s the deal for your case. To get any satisfaction, you’re going to have to be willing to make the dentist worry that you’ll be trouble for him. I’m sorry to have to put it that way, but I’m basing this on the way he has treated each of your complaints so far – dismissive, not truthful. He needs to worry that this could turn into a peer review case, or could get to the dental board, or could result in a malpractice action. And if you can get him worried about this, that is what will motivate him to refund your money.

And then you need to realize that your esthetic complaints won’t go very far. Since cosmetic dentistry isn’t a legally recognized specialty, the standard of care for esthetic work is the level of quality that would be expected of an average dentist, which is pretty low.

But you do have two areas of common negligence – the cement left behind, which caused gingivitis, and the root canal overfill. Both of these caused pain and suffering, and have threatened the health of your teeth. So you need to let him know that you are aware of these problems, and also let him know that you have another dentist to back you up on these claims. If you were to bring an action against this dentist, having another dentist willing to testify to the negligence is necessary. I wouldn’t reveal the name at this point, but I would let him know that you have that “arrow in your quiver.” And the fact that a general dentist did the root canal is not of itself a problem. Many general dentists do great work with root canal treatments, especially on front teeth, which are pretty easy. But there does seem to be an issue of competence with the dentist taking four hours to do a root canal that should have taken half an hour.

So I would tell this dentist that you have been to an expert cosmetic dentist, a dentist of international prominence, who told you that he had been negligent, but that you want to make it easy for him, so all you’re asking for at this point is a refund.

I hope this is helpful.

I’d be interested to know how this turns out. Please write back and let me know your next step and what your dentist says.

Links:
Click here for a referral to a cosmetic dentist.
Click here to ask the dentist a question.

 

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About David A. Hall

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