Recently I had $25,000 worth of porcelain crowns on both my top and bottom teeth-paid up front. I went for my consultation, picked my smile style, and told the consultant that I wanted a white bright smile that looked natural. I was given something to lighten my bottom teeth. I also had a metal bridge replaced so that it would match my upper teeth. All top teeth were crowned. After extensive xrays and mouth impressions, I was fitted with a temporary set of teeth. I was told that by wearing the temps, I would be able to see how my teeth would look, the shape and size, and color, in case I wanted to make any changes in my porcelain crowns. I was also told that I was the one who had to be happy. Two weeks later, when my crowns came in, the first thing I noticed as they were on the table was that they looked dark. I commented on this, but the girl who was to put them on said that they would look different in my mouth. When she put them in (not cemented) she told me to be careful when I sat up to look in the mirror because they were not in yet. From the moment I looked at them, I said “They are too dull!” I continued to say this, even as they were falling out and I could see I had no teeth left on top. By the way, I went in because my front teeth had been bonded years ago and had been chipped away by my bottom teeth. Other than that, I had strong, white teeth. As I continued to say I did not like them, she said suggested we go outside in the natural light with a mirror. Even on the outside, I kept saying I did not like them and that they looked dull. She told me that my eyes were playing tricks on me because I was used to the white temporaries and that once on, I would see a difference. We went back in and I looked in the big mirror above the sink in her lab. One of my front teeth feel on the floor and she picked it up and watched it off…. I was about to cry. Then the girl who cleans the teeth stepped in and said how I would love them once they were in and polished up. Never once did the doctor I paid the money to come in to see what was going on…Never once was I offered an option like, “Do you want them whiter?”
I was so frustrated and upset. I felt pushed against the wall about the matter, having no teeth in my mouth and being convinced that I was seeing things. Needless to say, she cemented them in. After they were in, the doctor came in and started trying to level my top and bottom teeth. Once he found out I was unhappy, I had to tell him, he told me to wear them a week and come back and he would finish … He said we want you to be happy.
After a week, I went back. In the light I had also discovered that the bridge I had replaced did not even match the other teeth. The girl said, You have a metal bridge (4 teeth @ $1700) so it’s going to be different. I explained to the doctor that I had tried to tell the girl before she put them in I was unhappy with the color… He said ” Well we have to be fair to everyone, the lab, the workers ,,, no way can we redo what we have done.” He then said maybe he could remove the stain on my porcelain crowns to match the white bridge. I am suppose to go back in a week. He said if the lab used a certain stain, this might be possible. I am so upset. I trusted these people. I don’t know what to do. My husband is going to go with me this next visit. I have to go back. I can’t eat with the crowns because they have not been level and are very painful. Any suggestions? Thanks for any help!
– Sandi from Texas
If I am sizing up correctly what was done to you, based on the story you have told, you are the victim of seriously unethical cosmetic dentistry. You were told that they would be sure you were happy with your smile makeover, but it sounds like they had no intention of actually honoring that promise.
Again, if I am sizing up this situation correctly, and if it happened the way you told me, you are dealing with very pushy people, and you are going to have to take a different tack if you are going to get anywhere. You have to be willing to get a lot more serious with your complaints and maybe get some legal help. Are you up to standing up for your own rights?
If these teeth were put in over your objections, then this is classic malpractice. A fundamental principle of health care is that all treatment is rendered with informed consent. When you didn’t consent to the treatment, and they put in the teeth anyway, legally, that amounts to assault. But if you are going to get anywhere, you have to have some steel in your spine and be willing to stand up to these people. And just having your husband go in with you to the appointment isn’t good enough.
My judgment would be that you will need to help this dentist see that he is legally on thin ice in order to get him to fix this. I would suggest getting a lawyer to write a letter that suggests that you may sue them unless they totally redo this for you and honor the promise they originally made that you had to be happy with how they look before they would put them in. Or, if you don’t want to do that, you could take this e-mail and that might help open their eyes. Then, if they don’t agree, you could go to a lawyer.
For additional help, I could line you up with a great cosmetic dentist not too far from you. If it were me, I wouldn’t settle for this dentist re-doing the work. I wouldn’t ever let him touch my teeth again. Instead, I would demand that he pay me to have the work re-done by someone more compassionate and skillful. At this point, do you trust him? I wouldn’t.
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About David A. Hall
Dr. David A. 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 advanced internet marketing for dentists.
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