A Bad Experience With Lumineers

Dr. Hall:

Thanks so much for the outstanding information provided on this web site, it has been a tremendously helpful resource. I just wish I would have found it before my dental work.

I recently had my front teeth done with Lumineers plus three porcelain crowns. I wore temporaries for almost a month, because the Lumineers didn’t match the crowns and the dentist had to send the case back to the lab. When I finally had them placed, they looked a little gray to me. The dentist used something under the Lumineers to get them to match but then they lost a lot of the translucency.

About one week later, I thought one front tooth was darker than the other teeth. Since that time, it has become even darker. Why would this crown have turned dark? The only thing I can see when I look in the mirror is that dark tooth and it doesn’t matter how pretty the rest of my teeth are. I really don’t think the rest of my teeth are as pretty as they should be with all porcelain restorations, either. But I could live with them if it wasn’t for that dark tooth. I’m so disappointed I can’t even think about it without crying. I was so proud of myself for going and having the work done that I needed. The loan to pay for it is a huge hardship as a single parent of a college student.

Truly, I love my dentist. He is a wonderful, kind man who got me over my dental phobia. I am so conflicted over the work on my front teeth. I can’t bear the thought of re-doing anything in the front of my mouth, but I am also bitterly disappointed with how it currently looks. I know now that I should have gone to a Cosmetic Dentist.

Very Truly Yours,
—Lesley in Texas
Dear Lesley,

Usually, when a tooth turns quite a bit darker immediately after bonding all-porcelain crowns or veneers, it’s because of a chemical that the dentist uses when the impression is taken. There is a chemical that keeps your gums from bleeding into the impression and ruining the impression. That chemical has iron in it. The most popular brand name is Viscostat. There is an interaction between that chemical and the bonding chemicals that causes a dark stain on the tooth that develops under the veneer or crown after it is bonded.

I’d ask the dentist whether any of these iron chemicals: Viscostat or ferric sulfate or others, was used in taking your impression. If so, the only way to get rid of it that I know of is to take the veneer or crown off and clean the tooth off with concentrated hydrogen peroxide. Then a new crown or veneer needs to be made and bonded on. But you should wait long enough that you’re sure that no other teeth are going to turn dark. Wait a month or so more—a total of two or three months to be sure.

The dentist is responsible for this error. It’s an error, and it’s from the dentist not being familiar enough with cosmetic dentistry. He needs to repair this for no extra charge to you. You have the right to expect that all these teeth are the same color. And please don’t misunderstand—from what you are telling me, it is clear that this dentist is a kind man and undoubtedly has high ethical standards. I don’t think you need to approach this in any confrontational manner. But it doesn’t sound like he’s an artist nor that he has that passion for appearance-related dentistry that I look for in expert cosmetic dentists.

There could be another reason this tooth is turning dark, but the iron chemical is the most likely. If he didn’t use this iron chemical, I’d go to an expert cosmetic dentist. Some bonding materials are subject to discoloration over time, but that discoloration usually takes years, and it would affect all the teeth, not just one. The bonding could also be leaking which causes a darkening under the veneer or crown.

And yes, an expert cosmetic dentist would have been able to give you the natural translucency and a brilliant smile, but, from what you’re telling me of the struggles he had with the color, I’m sure that’s beyond the ability of this dentist, so I don’t think you can ask him to fix that.

Good luck,

—Dr. David Hall

Note: For some reason, this answer I wrote really rubbed some dentists wrong, and I received two hate mail responses, annoyed that I would say that the dentist here made a mistake. But this issue is pretty clear cut to me. If I were to put in a new smile involving six teeth and one of the crowns I put in started turning dark in a week, I would consider that my responsibility to fix, for no additional charge. I think any decent, honorable dentist would feel the same way. I posted one of the “hate mails,” who interestingly ended the e-mail with “shame on you.” And yet, this person seemed ashamed of what he or she had written, since they wouldn’t identify themselves.

Click here to ask Dr. Hall a question.

Find out why you’re more likely to have gum irritation around Lumineers.

Christie from Arizona, after having them for four months, had one of her Lumineers crack, the color wasn’t white enough, and one of them is starting to stain.

Click here to read the other cosmetic dentistry mistakes.

Click here for referral to an expert cosmetic dentist.