Cosmetic Dentistry Blog Cosmetic and General Dentistry Questions Answered

December 26, 2016

Ugly e.max crowns are too thick


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Good morning, Dr. Hall.
My question: Can adhesive-bonded e.max crowns be safely removed without breaking the natural tooth which is already fragile?
History: I recently had the front six teeth re-crowned with e.max. The four front teeth have now been crowned for the 5th time (all by different dentists). I was happy with the first crowns I had, but after 15 years they needed to be replaced. I have yet to find a dentist who can replicate the smile I had before. I’m now stuck with e.max crowns that are thick and bulky with dark showing around the gum over my central incisor. My dentist said he would replace them but I know with each manipulation, I am risking the possibility of losing a tooth (or teeth).
My dentist said he made the e.max crowns thicker because my gums were thick (the gums have buttressed from years of clenching). He has now asked I have crown-lengthening and have some if the bone removed before replacing crowns.
I am so afraid of losing my teeth and having to have dental implants but I so want my old smile back.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
– Carol from Alabama

Carol,
If I’m getting this straight, your dentist gave you thick crowns because your gums are thick. If that is his true reasoning, I wouldn’t let him re-do your case. There is a gross misunderstanding of esthetic and functional principles here. Thick crowns will cause the gums to become inflamed and puffy, so this has the potential to be a functional disaster. Plus there is no aesthetic reason for your crowns to be made thick in this situation. The dentist should make sure there are natural contours to the teeth as they come out of the gum.

Let me explain.

I found this photograph showing thick crowns with puffy gums what happens when crowns are too thick. It creates a protected space where the crown meets the tooth and in that protected space, gum-disease causing bacteria multiply freely. Microscopic food particles will get trapped there, it is impossible to clean effectively, with resulting gum disease and puffy gums.

After almost 40 years of experience in dentistry, I must say I have never heard this aesthetic principle taught or even mentioned, that thick gums mean you need to do thick crowns. Rather, what I have heard is that you always need to have a natural emergence angle where the crown meets the tooth. You should not be able to feel any bulges as you run an explorer up from the root of the tooth onto the crown – the contour should be straight and smooth.

Now, as to your actual question about removing e.max crowns. These crowns are made of a very tough material – lithium disilicate – which makes them difficult to remove. And you say they were bonded on. The only way to get these off is to grind them off. Your dentist will need a supply of diamond burs to methodically grind these off your teeth. If the dentist is good and knows what he or she is doing, there should be no damage to your existing teeth. That isn’t a problem.

But I wouldn’t trust your current dentist to do that very carefully. His idea about thick crowns doesn’t show much care for precision in knowledge, which would make me worry about his being clinically careful. I would go to one of the dentists on our recommended list–I’m confident any one of them would do a great job for you here in carefully removing the existing crowns and replacing them with a beautiful smile.

Besides the functional mistake in your new smile, there was a serious aesthetic mistake, and I want to say something about that, too. No good cosmetic dentist would have ever bonded these crowns onto your teeth without a test-drive first, either duplicating the new smile in plastic so you could wear that as a temporary smile makeover, or temporarily cementing the new crowns, so he and you could make sure that you love this new smile before it was bonded permanently.

I hope this is helpful.

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.

October 6, 2016

Metal present in dental ceramics


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Hi Dr. Hall,
I like your website–it is informative.
I am a naturopath and need a crown. I’m concerned over some of the materials used. After my research, so I far like the look of the ceramic crowns (is this glass?) and wondering what Vita ceramic is made out of. I’m finding it hard to get an answer. I basically don’t want any with metals or lithium as I have thyroid issues.
Thank you,
Vanessa from New Zealand

Vanessa,
Any crown that is all ceramic is not going to have any metal in it. But I’m reading between the lines of your question, and I think you are asking about avoiding any metal ions in the crown. I don’t believe this is going to be possible to do, as there are metal ions in every dental ceramic I am aware of.

Let’s get into a little chemistry. Iron is a metal. Rust is iron combined with oxygen–iron oxide. While rust isn’t a metal, it has metal ions in it. And while you wouldn’t want to eat metallic iron, of course, iron ions are essential to life. They’re an important ingredient of our diet, since the hemoglobin in our blood has iron ions in it. The iron in our blood is what gives blood its red color.

Similarly, sodium is a metal. As a pure metal, it is toxic, but combined as a metal ion with chlorine it is sodium chloride, or common table salt, and is also essential to life.

Other metal ions that are important ingredients in our diet include calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, molybdenum, and cobalt.

Lithium is a metal that is in the same family as sodium. It is so reactive that it doesn’t occur freely in nature, so it is found naturally in its ionic form combined with other elements. Lithium disilicate is a ceramic that is very strong and has been developed in the past few years to be used in dental crowns. I have in my mouth an e.max crown, which is made of lithium disilicate.

Zirconium is another metal. Combined in its ionic form with oxygen, it is known as zirconia, and is a ceramic that is even stronger than lithium disilicate and has also been developed recently to be used in dental crowns. It is so strong that it can be used in bridges without requiring a metal framework, something that is very risky with other ceramics.

You mention Vita. Vita is a brand of porcelain. Porcelain is a conventional ceramic that has been used for many years for dental crowns. It isn’t very strong by itself, but when it is bonded to tooth structure, it is strong enough for crowns on front teeth and premolars. Dental porcelains are made with kaolin as a key ingredient. Kaolin is a clay that has silica and aluminum oxide. Aluminum again is a metal, but it isn’t aluminum metal that is in these crowns but aluminum ions.

Glass is pure silica (silicon dioxide). Silicon is not a metal, but glass isn’t strong enough to be used as a crown, though there are some crowns that use a layer of glass on the outside (Empress crowns). However, the glass they use in Empress crowns is a leucite glass that has aluminum tectosilicate in it.

So you can take all of this information and figure out what you want to do. I am not aware of any biocompatibility issues with any of these ceramics. However, if you were to ask me my opinion about which one would be least likely to provoke any biological reaction, I would say the zirconia.

– Dr. Hall

Do you have a comment or a question or anything else to add? We’d love to hear from you. Enter your comment below.

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.

February 2, 2014

Response from Aaron from Indiana – polishing veneers and Supersmile toothpaste

This is a final follow-up to a correspondence with Aaron from Indiana.
See his original question about a smile makeover that had lost its shine and the follow-up: “Do porcelain veneers lose their shine that quickly?”

Greetings Dr. Hall,

I went to my cosmetic dentist and had another e.max crown placed and was prepped for another one on my right lower side. The crown looks great and I am highly satisfied with my lower left molar restoration. I also had a polish and the luster on my cosmetics has been restored. I have been using Supersmile for 4 days. My teeth look so amazing and I love the Supersmile product. After using the toothpaste, I went ahead and ordered a tube of the accelerator. In conjunction with the at home Zoom treatments, I think the Supersmile products will get the shade on my lower teeth where I want it to be and with less sensitivity. The low abrasion factor and the calprox are big selling factors for me maintaining my new super smile.

– Aaron from Indiana

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.

April 4, 2012

What treatment is needed for a calcified root canal?

Hi Dr Hall,
First of all I appreciate the good work that you are doing.
Regarding my question: my daughter had yellow staining on her right front tooth. The doc did an x-ray and said the root canal is getting calcified and suggested a root canal. After the root canal we suggested to leave it as such but he said the tooth would fracture and a crown is a must. The crown he suggested was LAVA. We were not happy with the finish so we are trying an e.max or perhaps a metal-free ceramic. To push us to decide fast he frightened us that the gums are falling down. But I am happy I did not go with a badly made crown. I would like to know whether I have been taken for a ride and two which is the best crown to use? My gratitude for your enlightening blog I shall recommend to all my colleagues. My prayers and God Bless
– Bransdon from India

Bransdon,
I’m glad to be able to help.

First of all, I’m not sure why your daughter needs a root canal on this tooth. Just because the canal is getting calcified? As long as it’s not infected, she doesn’t need a root canal treatment. Calcification of a root canal is just the depositing of extra dentin inside the tooth. It  can happen after a traumatic injury – it’s the tooth’s attempt to protect itself against infection of the canal. Also, all teeth tend to have their canals get a little calcified as we get older.

Second, even if she has a root canal treatment, she doesn’t necessarily need a crown on this front tooth. While a back tooth that has had a root canal treatment will be prone to fracture if it doesn’t have a crown, a crown on a front tooth with a root canal treatment will weaken the neck of the tooth. A back tooth has a chewing surface. Chewing pressure on this surface will tend to push apart the cusps of the tooth, possibly causing it to split. But if a front tooth breaks, it tends to break around the neck of the tooth, and it just breaks off entirely at that point rather than splitting as back teeth do.

The Lava crown and the e.max crown are very similar to each other. They both have a very strong lithium disilicate base overlaid with a feldspathic porcelain, but they are made by different companies. They are a good crown for dentists who aren’t very good at cosmetic dentistry procedures, but they require aggressive tooth reduction, which will further weaken this tooth.

In India, you have to be very careful with getting crowns or any type of complicated dental care. I’m not all that familiar with their standards there, but I know they aren’t as high as they are here in the United States. But the best thing to do for a front tooth that does not have a large filling, which sounds like it is your daughter’s situation, is, after the root canal treatment (if it needs that), to then have a translucent fiberglass post placed to strengthen the tooth. Before placing the post, all of the root canal cement and root canal filling materials should be cleaned out from the inside of the visible part of the tooth – this will help insure against discoloration. If the color is off, I would have that fixed with a thin porcelain veneer. That will help the tooth retain its maximum strength. And I would try to seek out a dentist who is somewhat familiar with cosmetic dentistry procedures. There are dentists in India who are members of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and I would seek out one of those. (You can go to the AACD website and pull up a membership list.)

I do not recommend, in the United States, relying on membership in the AACD for any type of assurance that a dentist will do good cosmetic dental work. But in India, it does show a strong level of commitment to cosmetic dentistry to be willing to fly to the United States to learn these procedures.

– 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.

April 7, 2011

Which looks better and is more durable, e-Max or Lava crowns?

Hi Dr. Hall,
I am about to go through a procedure that will hopefully change my smile. I currently have a metal crown in the front right tooth and it looks TERRIBLE. In addition to that the left front tooth has a very bad discoloring but also has deep fillings, and next to it, the tooth also has major fillings. My dentist initially recommended that I restore my smile with Lava Crowns, and then decided that he would use e-max crowns.

Is there a difference between these two products? I keep on searching the web to see which is better but I usually find sources that support both products. In addition to this I want the product to look as natural as possible. Is one better than the other? My dentist told me that the e-max crowns usually cost more, but that he would leave it as the same price as the Lava Crowns (which – according to him – cost less). Is this also true? And my last questions would be, what is the durability of each of these? Please help.
– Angie from California

Angie,
The key questions in how these crowns are going to make your front teeth look are not going to be anything about which brand of ceramic crown your dentist uses. The key questions are going to be, “How artistic is your dentist?” And, “How artistic is the dental lab that your dentist has chosen?” Both questions center around your dentist, because an artistic dentist will make sure that the dental lab he or she uses produces highly esthetic work.

The Lava Crown and the e.max Crown are both fairly similar. Both have a high-strength core that is milled rather than cast. Lava crowns have a zirconia core and then have a layer of feldspathic porcelain baked over them. The e.max crowns come in two types. One has a lithium disilicate core and the other has a zirconia core. The e.max crown comes from Ivoclar, and it can be covered with either a baked feldspathic porcelain or a pressed ceramic. The consensus is that both of these are highly esthetic, but I don’t think either of them is the very most esthetic crown. On pure esthetics, I would lean toward a pure feldspathic porcelain that is bonded directly to the tooth without an inner milled core. Both e.max and Lava are high strength, and I couldn’t tell you which is stronger. Pure feldspathic porcelain isn’t as strong, but it will last as long in the mouths of most people as long as you don’t have an abusive bite. Some esthetic dentists think the pressed ceramic is the most beautiful, but more lean toward the feldspathic porcelains. Some esthetic dentists will choose one or the other depending on the demands of a particular case.

But again, the key ingredient is the dentist. Let me ask you this. If you were asked by your community to commission an oil painting for the foyer of a local concert hall, would you research the brand of paint, or would you focus on the selection of the artist and let the artist pick the paint he or she felt most comfortable using? I think you would pick the artist. But you’re approaching the creation of a life-like reproduction of your two front teeth as if it is some commodity to be purchased at a discount store, and all you have to worry about is the brand. Dentists vary greatly in their artistic abilities. 98% of dentists have very little artistic inclination – they chose a career in dentistry because they like to fix things. Some dentists rise to the top in artistic abilities, and they become renowned among celebrities who will fly across the country to see a particularly artistic dentist. On the mynewsmile website, I cater more to the general public and I search out from among the top 1% of artistic dentists and list them here for the benefit of my visitors. I have a lot of e-mails from disappointed patients who make the same mistake of thinking that the dentist on the corner, by virtue of having a dental license, is an artist. It doesn’t work that way.

As far as a choice between e.max and Lava, I think probably more cosmetic dentists use e.max. I have an e.max crown on one of my premolars. Done well, in the right hands, it can produce a nice result for front teeth. Depending on the amount of discoloration in your one front tooth, Lava or e.max can help block out some of the unwanted color. But I would still prefer straight feldspathic porcelain in that situation with a great lab technician who knows how to use opaquing porcelains. I think e.max may tend to cost a little more, but that’s going to depend mostly on the laboratory that’s doing it. Costs for both will vary greatly depending on the laboratory technician that is using it.

It does bother me some that your dentist switched recommendations. My guess is that he spoke with his laboratory technician about your case, and the technician recommended e.max, so the dentist is going along. An excellent cosmetic dentist would have a firm idea from the very beginning of how to best treat your case and wouldn’t be wavering about this.

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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