Without this, your gums will be puffy and not healthy. This is one of the critical things I look for when I examine photographs of the work of cosmetic dentists that I recommend on this website.
Were your veneers made by the laboratory this way? Or did your dentist simply skip the step where the excess cement is cleaned off?
There are situations, such as with advanced gum disease or creating support to hold in a bridge where some front teeth may need to be bonded together in order to strengthen them. But to create that situation for an aesthetic procedure is something I would consider completely inappropriate.
Correct Porcelain Veneer Bonding Technique
Here’s an explanation of a typical method of bonding on porcelain veneers, which I used, and which I believe is pretty much accepted technique among cosmetic dentists, or something very similar to this. After priming the surface of the tooth with the proper etching and bonding agents, I would place the bonding composite in each veneer individually and then press each veneer onto its corresponding tooth, which would cause excess composite to squirt out the sides. I would then remove much of the excess composite with a cotton roll and then begin to cure the bonding composite. This composite is light cured, and dentists use a special high-intensity curing light that emits a particular wavelength chosen so that it activates the hardening agent in the composite. But rather than cure the entire tooth, I would use an ultra-small light tip (a 2-mm tip is shown here) so that I would cure only the composite in the center of the tooth. This would tack the veneer in place so that I could floss around it without dislodging the veneer. After thus tacking all the veneers into place, I would carefully floss around the teeth, making sure that all the excess composite was removed and we were left with smooth surfaces between all the teeth.
Once that was done, I would go back with a larger curing tip, similar to the 13-mm tip shown here, and cure all of the remaining composite, so that the veneer was solidly attached to the tooth. Then I would finish the case by going between the teeth with fine polishing strips, leaving everything with an ultra-smooth polished finish.
Dentists who don’t do a lot of porcelain veneers may not stock this ultra-small curing tip. Not using a tool like this means a lot of extra work, because cleaning off the excess composite once it is hard is time-consuming and laborious. Of course, if they just skip that step, it’s quick and easy.
The first step I list on my page about how to take care of porcelain veneers after they are placed is “brush and floss faithfully.” If you don’t do that, you risk getting decay around the edges of the porcelain, and you risk losing the teeth to gum disease. Not good.
So I would go back to this dentist, share what I have given you here, and see if he or she can fix this so you can floss. Meanwhile, continue using your Phillips Airfloss–it’s better than nothing. But be sure you don’t put a mouthwash in it that contains alcohol. Alcohol softens the bonding composite around your veneers.
About your toothpaste, I would disagree with your dentists in the UK, that Oral B Pro Expert toothpaste is anything special for general dental hygiene. I don’t believe there is any toothpaste that is anything special for general use. I look at the ingredients in the Oral B toothpastes and I see stannous fluoride, which other toothpastes have. It’s a fluoride compound. I actually think that sodium monofluorophosphate is a better ingredient for delivering fluoride, but stannous fluoride is okay. Some of the Oral B formulas have tartar control agents, which other toothpastes also have. Some formulas have whitening agents, but other toothpastes have those and they don’t really work anyway. Some have antibacterial agents, which, again, are present in other toothpastes. Nothing unique or special here.
There are two toothpastes that are specifically designed for maintaining cosmetic dental work. One is Rembrandt toothpaste, which uses aluminum oxide as an abrasive, which is especially gentle. The other is Supersmile toothpaste, which cleans the teeth with an enzymatic action that actually dissolves the protein pellicle to which the stains attach. Because it is so gentle and thorough, that is my recommendation for maintaining cosmetic dental work, and when I placed a set of porcelain veneers, I started each patient off with a complimentary tube of Supersmile.
If you learn anything more about why your dentist made it so you can’t floss between your teeth, I’d love to hear from you.
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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.