Cosmetic Dentistry Blog Cosmetic and General Dentistry Questions Answered

March 31, 2016

A smile makeover over a fractured tooth spells trouble for Aaron

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Dr. Hall,

I had a traumatic fall 12 years ago fracturing 2 front teeth and my smile was restored with root canals and Procera crowns by my family dentist. With age and time, I didn’t like the way my adjacent natural teeth looked with the Procera. Also, I had one left upper molar that had a pretty deep filling and was giving me trouble. I am 38 years old and that filling was almost 30 years old. I decided that it was time for a smile makeover. So I went to a cosmetic dentist here in Lexington who gave me a combination of porcelain crowns and porcelain veneers.

I love my new smile. After the restoration however, my #9 front fractured tooth began giving me trouble. It was tap and pressure sensitive, so I went back to my cosmetic dentist and she told me I need to get an implant and another restoration. I had a gum pimple at the time and was referred to a periodontist.

root fracture on tooth in a smile makeover

The x-ray of Aaron’s front tooth.

I went on a course of antibiotics immediately (Amoxicillin 500 mg). I saw a periodontist last week and he confirmed that extraction of my newly restored tooth was needed. I requested my x-ray, showed it to my family dentist, and he doesn’t necessarily agree that extraction is warranted. He is contacting the West Virginia University, University of Kentucky, and University of Louisville dental schools to see if this tooth can be saved by periodontics or endodontics. I really do not want to lose #9, especially after a $1500 crown was placed, and not to mention IT IS MY FRONT TOOTH. Wish me luck. Please feel free to comment. I have attached the x-ray.

– Aaron from Kentucky



I actually have a couple of problems with your smile makeover. Not with its appearance. You also sent a photograph of your smile and it looks great! But it leaves me wondering if your dentist took x-rays before doing this smile makeover or, if she did, if she fully comprehended what she saw or gave it proper weight.

Root fracture on tooth #9

Your tooth #9 doesn’t look good at all. I have a fair amount of expertise in x-ray diagnosis and taught x-ray technique at the University of Minnesota, and I’ll tell you what I see. Right in the middle of the root there is a horizontal radiolucent line that looks like an old fracture. This must date from back to your original accident. The root canal filling crosses this fracture line, so the dentist who did the root canal either didn’t see the fracture or figured he or she could navigate through it, remove all the necrotic soft tissue, and hopefully get healing. And it looks like this happened to some extent, at least. The end of the root looks healthy. But just above the fracture line, the tooth looks moth-eaten. It appears that some of the root canal filling material is gone. If the pimple on your gum traces to that area, that spells trouble. And my guess is that it does. The moth-eaten appearance suggests that there is infection eating away at the root of your tooth. If this is the case, the tooth is unrestorable.

Does tooth#8 need root canal re-treatment?

If this weren’t enough, the other front tooth is suspicious. If I had done this case, I would have addressed the problem with #9 before starting, but I would have also recommended re-doing the root canal treatment on #8, because the root canal filling stops several millimeters short of the end of the tooth. Now that the crown is on that tooth, I wouldn’t do anything more than wait to see if it flares up. There aren’t any signs on the x-ray of any infection here, just evidence of a situation in which infection could develop.

So yes, I think you’re going to lose tooth #9. From everything I can tell, your dentist is an excellent cosmetic dentist, so I would have her stay with this case and finish it. But I think she missed the diagnosis here and should make concessions on the fee to get this fixed right. If I had made this mistake, I would ask you to pay for the extraction and the implant but then not charge you anything for the implant crown. That would make it so the total fee you pay would be equal to what you would have paid had the tooth been extracted in the first place and an implant placed, which is what should have been done.

– 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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