Cosmetic Dentistry Blog Cosmetic and General Dentistry Questions Answered

February 2, 2017

My veneers are too white AGAIN. What can I do?


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Dr.Hall,

I would appreciate your opinion. I had nine “ceramic” veneers done on my lower teeth, five weeks ago. When they first came back I told the dentist that the color was too white. My dentist sent them back and had the lab change the color. I asked that the new color should match my exiting teeth which are shade A-2.

When they came back, he glued them in without showing me or discussing the color.

I think they are still too white. My son was getting married five days after the permanent placement, so it seem futile to discuss at the time, especially since they were already placed.

Then three weeks after placement, one of the veneers broke in half (from the bottom). The dentist said my teeth will be replaced for two years w/o charge. Is the amount of time reasonable? Do I have reason to be concerned about the long term sustainability of this investment? Can an objective person look at my teeth and not notice the difference in color? If so, what is my possible recourse? Is ceramic more durable/stronger then porcelain? I had some gum coming through my teeth. Would veneers be made to “cover” them? This was not done.

Can one determine if the material that was used is defective? I have the broken half.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Benjamin from New York

Benjamin,
I’m not sure I’m understanding correctly what happened here. Are you saying that your dentist bonded on these veneers and you weren’t aware that he was doing that? You say that he put them on the second time without showing you. Did you agree to that, that he didn’t show you? Or did he do that without asking you?

If you didn’t give your consent to having them put on, the dentist could be in real trouble over this. Consent is key to any dental or medical treatment—you have to consent to any treatment done to you or it is malpractice. And even if you did give a passive nod to your dentist to go ahead and bond them, a good cosmetic dentist will never bond on a set of veneers without being absolutely sure that you love how they look. Further, missing the color twice? I would never put up with that in a situation like this. This is not a challenging color situation, what you have described to me.

And the veneer breaking after placement, this complicates your dentist’s situation. The veneer breaking isn’t because the veneer itself wasn’t strong enough—it’s because it wasn’t bonded properly. Porcelain veneers by themselves are very thin and fragile. They get their strength by being bonded to the underlying tooth. You can often break them in your fingers before they are bonded to the tooth, but once they are bonded they are very hard and strong enough to withstand normal biting forces and other functional stresses. Porcelain is one of several ceramics that are used for veneers, so I’m not sure what you’re meaning by ceramic veneers. Most other ceramics are stronger than porcelain, but, as I explained, that isn’t the problem. It’s the bonding strength.

About the color being noticeable—lower veneers that are whiter than uppers look particularly funny. You can usually get away with the lowers being a little darker than the uppers because they tend to be further back in the mouth and thus we expect them to look a little darker. If they’re whiter than your upper teeth, I wouldn’t put up with that.

I think you should go to an expert cosmetic dentist for a second opinion and then pursue getting a refund from your dentist and using the money to have this done right. I believe you have a fair amount of leverage with this dentist. You could report him to the dental board or even get a lawyer involved, and I think it would be in his best interest to do whatever he can to satisfy you. You also may want to read my post, “How to ask for a refund from your dentist.”

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

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.

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