Cosmetic Dentistry Blog Cosmetic and General Dentistry Questions Answered

February 13, 2018

The hundred thousand dollar smile makeover

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Dear Dr. Hall,
I have had a terrible experience with my “smile-makeover.” It turned out horrible, so the dentist just refunded my money, and I am looking for a new dentist. I found your website while I was still his patient and was able to figure out that he had little to no knowledge of what you describe as a true cosmetic dentist.

So I made appointments with the first 3 cosmetic dentists on your list. I must say I was so disappointed with the 1st. While he rightly said my bite was off, I was there for a 2nd opinion of the 6 upper anterior crowns I had. He said I would first need to spend $300-400 with his hygienist, and then, to deal with my bite issues and everything the cost would range between $50,000 and $100,000. “About the price of a new car,” he said. I only wish I could replace my 6-yr-old car bought used, for 1/3 his idea of a new car. He never got to what type of smile I would end up with, as his idea was to build up my back teeth and have “an appliance” covering several teeth and add porcelain “where needed.”

My teeth and gums are pristine according to a general dentist I went to for opinion and a periodontist I also went to for opinion earlier. I don’t understand why I need all of this, and I can’t begin to afford this and want your opinion.
– Sally from Texas

There’s a great variation in what some expert cosmetic dentists charge, and the fees you’ve been quoted are definitely on the high side, even if you actually need all the work that has been quoted. I would keep going down the list and get another opinion. Meanwhile, let me give you a little insight into what I think is going on in your case.

You said that you know your bite is off, and it appears that you’re being quoted a fee for a full-mouth reconstruction to rebuild your bite. Do you actually need that? I don’t know that, but I can tell you that some dentists are very fussy perfectionists and they insist that every patient accept what they call “ideal treatment.” Other dentists are more pragmatic and will consider other options for patients who can’t afford the ideal. Fortunately, you’re in the Dallas-Fort Worth area where we have several recommended cosmetic dentists. Go ahead and shop around for second opinions.

I want to tell you a story about this cost issue and dentists’ fee levels. There is a city where we have two recommended cosmetic dentists—let’s call them Dr. Smith and Dr. Jones. Dr. Smith is famous and has patients flying in from far and wide to see him. He does absolutely exquisite work. Dr. Jones also does very beautiful work and has won awards for the beauty of his work. Dr. Smith’s fees are about triple of what Dr. Jones charges. Is Dr. Jones an inferior dentist? I don’t think so because, guess what, Dr. Smith goes to Dr. Jones for his dental work.

So get another opinion or two.

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.

June 1, 2012

A cosmetic dentistry horror story – but there is a silver lining

Hi Dr. Hall.
I got 8 porcelain veneers and 2 crowns 2 weeks ago. I am 48 and have tetracycline stained teeth. I am very disappointed in a few ways and don’t know what to do. First thing is that they are too white. I look silly. I am Italian with dark skin and I look like I have Chiclets in my mouth. My dentist gave me an option on the color so I realize I am stuck with that problem. I will probably not smile very often now.

But the worst things are that I feel like they are loose and may come off at any time. I can’t bite down hard as it hurts in my molars. And also I can’t relax my teeth as it feels like the upper teeth are too long and my entire face aches like I am clenching and grinding my teeth. Help me with some advice please. I have had 5 kids with dental issues I always took care of. They are grown and gone and I finally was able to do my own smile. I am so sad about it.

Thank you.
Jamie from Virginia

This is the sort of story have heard so much over the years, and is the reason I operate this website. 98 to 99% of dentists simply don’t know how to do beautiful cosmetic dentistry. They chose the field because they like to fix things, and they think like engineers, not like artists.

You’re kind to take the responsibility for the color of your porcelain veneers. But there are about three things a dentist who is truly passionate about doing beautiful cosmetic dentistry would have done differently in your case.

First of all, he or she would have been knowledgeable enough about the results you would get to predict how you would look when your case was done, and would have coached you to a more beautiful result. You’ve never had a smile makeover before – how are you supposed to know how a particular color will look once it is in your mouth? A truly artistic cosmetic dentist would be focused on creating a beautiful smile, and would steer you in that direction.

Second, every excellent cosmetic dentist I have ever asked, and I have interviewed a number of them on this subject, has some method for making sure that you will love your new smile before it is ever bonded permanently. They will often make a set of what they call provisional veneers in acrylic that will be temporarily cemented onto your teeth so you can “test drive” the final result, to make sure that you will be happy. In addition to this, they have a try-in with the actual veneers – they will use a try-in paste to insert the porcelain veneers to let you see exactly how they will look. You will get as much time to look at this as you want – will get to see it under different lights, have a friend or family member come in to give you feedback on how it looks – whatever it takes to make sure that this will make you proud to smile before these are bonded on permanently. Most recently, I interviewed a cosmetic dentist in the Boston area that we recommend on this site. In 30 years, he has never had a patient who has not been happy with their new smile. If he ever did, he would re-do the case.

And that brings me to the third thing an excellent cosmetic dentist would do. These dentists, as I said, are passionate about creating beautiful dental work. Most of them, if they heard you say what you just wrote to me – that you won’t be smiling much any more – would be so embarrassed that they would re-do the case for free. I had this happen to me. I was a young dentist and it was the first time I had done porcelain veneers on someone with tetracycline stains. When dentists are inexperienced with tetracycline stains, they will make one of two mistakes. These tetracycline-stained teeth are so dark on the inside that the color shows through most dental materials, and the dentist will have them made too translucent so that the gray-brown shows through. This is what I did. Or, they will make the teeth too opaque and white so that they look pasty and fake. This appears to be what your dentist did. Well, with the case that I did, after I gained more training and experience and knew better how to make this type of case look beautiful, I offered to the patient to re-do them for free, because I didn’t want work that I was responsible for not looking beautiful. The patient never complained, but I could tell she wasn’t excited about how they looked, and I wanted her to be excited. I’m not unique – that’s typical of artistic dentists who love to create beautiful smiles.

So what do you do at this point? There really isn’t much remedy other than doing the porcelain veneers over. And this time you need to be very careful about the dentist you pick to do them. Pick one from our list – that’s why I have this website. I personally check every dentist I list to make sure they can do beautiful smile makeovers.

But I need to say a word about how your mouth feels now. The porcelain veneers cannot be loose – if they were loose they would immediately fall off. But what I am worried about is that your teeth are getting loose. You say that your entire face aches, like you are clenching and grinding now. And you think that the upper teeth are too long. I can’t tell this from a distance, but it certainly sounds like your bite has been thrown off. This could potentially be very serious and could lead to serious TMJ disorder or breaking of the dental work, or premature wearing down of your teeth, or periodontitis leading to early tooth loss, or even breaking of your teeth. This could actually be the silver lining of your cloud, because this could give you grounds for asking this dentist to compensate you so you can have this re-done correctly. Here’s what I would suggest. Go to a dentist on our list of recommended dentists. See what he or she thinks of what has been done – if the work has indeed thrown your bite off to where it is causing serious problems. And then see if he or she will help you get some satisfaction from this other dentist. You need someone more than just a skilled cosmetic dentist – you need someone who will be understanding and willing to stick their neck out a little to help you get what you deserve.

Good luck,
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.

September 26, 2011

My bite is off, so my dentist wants to crown every tooth

Filed under: TMJ — Tags: , , , — mesasmiles @ 11:42 am

Dr. Hall,
I have had braces, and I thought my teeth were aligned. However, my dentist stated that my bite was “off”. He offered to correct my bite with full restoration. I do not want to cap every tooth in my mouth. Granted I do have fillings in many of the teeth the bands for braces were placed on. I’m a 40-year-old professional and want the best option for my appearance within financial reason. I’ve been researching my options.
– A veterinarian in New York

Dr. Hall’s answer:
I am very suspicious of your treatment plan. A full mouth restoration based on a statement by the dentist that your bite is “off”? Such a radical treatment would be called for if there were major functional problems, but the complaint would originate from the patient, not by a simple statement of the bite being “off.” Almost everyone’s bite is “off” to one degree or another. It’s not clear what problem this dentist is proposing to solve. My own bite is “off,” and I don’t need any treatment for it.

TMJ disorder is a serious disorder. It can cause debilitating headaches, and premature wearing down of all your teeth. In some cases, the best treatment for that disorder is a full mouth reconstruction, which means putting crowns on all your teeth. But that is a very complex treatment, and a dentist needs considerable post-graduate education in TMJ treatment to do that successfully. And even for those elite dentists who have been trained for that treatment at a prestigious institute such as the Pankey Institute, or the newer Las Vegas Institute, they would first try removable splint therapy and test a new bite alignment to see if it solved the problem before committing the patient to a permanent bite re-alignment.

I’d recommend a second opinion. I’d recommend Dr. ( — ). He’s not a super artistic dentist like some of those in Manhattan, but he’s an excellent restorative dentist who is tuned into esthetics, and I believe he is a solid and ethical practitioner. I’d see what he says about your options.
– Dr. Hall

We thank our advertisers who help fund this site.

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.

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