Cosmetic Dentistry Blog Cosmetic and General Dentistry Questions Answered

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

Jamie,
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.

February 29, 2012

My new dental implant bridge doesn’t line up with my bite.

This is an exchange with Lilly from California. Here is her original question and my reply. Then she replied, and I answered again, and that is below:

Dr. Hall,
I have a new implant bridge, with two implants, replacing four teeth on my bottom right. I notice now that when I bite down on the right side, the bottom teeth and the top teeth line up, but my teeth on the left don’t line up. Is this normal? What can be done?
Lilly from California

Lilly,
This is not right. All your teeth should come together at the same time. Something isn’t right here. And if this isn’t fixed, it could lead to TMJ disorder.

This gets me to a recurring issue, and that is the quality and standards of implant dentistry in the country. This is one of the top areas for dental malpractice. One of the reasons is that the dental profession has not made it a recognized specialty, so anyone can claim to be an implant dentist with no extra training whatsoever.

My recommendation would be to have another dentist look at this. Look for a dentist with credentials from one of the two major dental implant organizations – the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, and the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. Fellowship or diplomate status in either of these organizations would indicate a dentist who understands and practices quality implant dentistry.

There are two possibilities for what went wrong. It’s possible the implants were restored incorrectly. I think more likely is that the surgery placed the implants in the wrong position.

Sometimes, if the surgery is done by one dentist and the implants are placed by another, there is a communication problem and they are placed in a position that makes it difficult or impossible to restore them correctly. What should be done is that the restorative dentist should make some type of surgical guide that fits in your mouth and that fixes the exact position and angle where the implant should be placed. But a lot of dentists don’t do that.

I wish you the best,
– Dr. Hall

This is a reply that Lilly sent

Dr. Hall,
Thank you for the comprehensive answer. I am suspecting the problem lies with the surgeon. He insisted he was in charge. I never saw the restorative dentist he referred me to until after he was done with the implants.

I have an appointment with both the surgeon (periodontist) and the restorative dentist in two weeks. I am hoping that these implants don’t have to be redone. In that case, is it fair for me to request a refund? I don’t want to return to this periodontist and dentist. You would think the restorative dentist would have known better than to just go ahead and make the bridge and charge me when he knew it was wrong.
-Lilly from California

Lilly,
Very interesting, to get that additional information from you. In my humble opinion, you are within your rights to ask for a refund, assuming that we have this sized up correctly. It is an established principle of implant dentistry that the implants need to be placed according to a restorative treatment plan, and that a surgeon should not place them until the restorative dentist has examined the case and made the determination of where they need to be. Sounds like the surgeon skipped that step.

Get your independent opinion from an implant dentist with a credential from the ICOI or AAID, as I mentioned in my earlier e-mail, and if it is determined that the problem was in the location of the implants and that they need to be replaced, then yes, I would complain. And actually, rather than a refund, ask that the surgeon pay whatever the cost would be to fix the problem, because it will likely cost more to get this fixed right than it cost to do it in the first place, plus you have to re-do the restorative part. I think there is some legal liability here to get this fixed right.
– 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.

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