Unfortunately, I have a large file full of stories I’ve received from patients who have been the victims of cosmetic dentistry mistakes. While many who email me just need reassurance that they are receiving good care, there are many unfortunate cases like some of these in which the dentist, who may be a nice person and very knowledgeable in general dentistry, does not appear to know the subject of cosmetic dentistry very well, and the dentist ends up “practicing” cosmetic dentistry on the patient. In many cases, these unfortunate patients now have no legal recourse after their cosmetic dentistry mistake, because the dental care they received met the legal standard of care—the typical level of care for general dentists—even though it was far short of the standard of care for expert cosmetic dentistry.
And by giving these examples of dentists who gave less-than-expert cosmetic dentistry care, by no means do I intend to imply that dentistry as a profession in the United States is in bad hands. The level of general dental care and expertise in the United States is very high. But there is clearly a problem with patients being able to get excellent cosmetic dental care from general dentists.
So look through this list, and then check the larger list on my blog under the category of cosmetic dentistry mistakes.
Read about the difference between a general dentist and a cosmetic dentist.
And keep in mind that these emails are only a sampling of this type of complaint that I receive. I have received hundreds of emails that are similar to these, in which the patient has sought treatment from a dentist who claimed to understand cosmetic dentistry but didn’t. Click here if you have had a problem with your cosmetic dentistry that you’d like to ask Dr. Hall about.
Lynn in Minnesota says her dentist is trained in cosmetic dentistry, but her porcelain veneers look gray. Dr. Hall explains that expert cosmetic dentists know how to use opaquers to block out the underlying color of dark teeth.
Stephen in Ontario said that his wife recently got three new fillings. She wanted white fillings, and the dentist obliged, but now she has terrible pain in all three teeth. Dr. Hall explains that the dentist was probably not fully trained in placing white fillings on back teeth, but did them anyway to try to please his patient.
Cindy in New Jersey had six porcelain veneers placed. Several months later, one of them cracked. The dentist replaced the cracked veneer, but the replacement veneer is much thicker and whiter than the other five. Dr. Hall helps her get a refund and a referral to an expert cosmetic dentist who gives her a beautiful smile.
Karen in Ohio had bonding done, but the bonding looked like putty and now has come off. Dr. Hall explains color depth and opaquing.
Michelle in Georgia says she wants her bonding replaced but her dentist says that the new bonding will be amber colored and she should have caps instead. Dr. Hall tells her how dental bonding, in the hands of an expert cosmetic dentist, can look beautiful and can be as white as she wants.
Tom in London, England went to a dentist for a new smile, but his porcelain veneers have begun to yellow after only two months. Dr. Hall questions if the “porcelain veneers” are really made of porcelain.
Stacy in Missouri asked her dentist to give her the whitest veneers possible. But the veneers she got are actually darker than her own bleached teeth. Dr. Hall tells her that general dentists often don’t know the full spectrum of colors that are available in cosmetic dentistry materials and that there is no limit to how white she can have her veneers.
Lee Ann in Tennessee has six porcelain veneers. One had to be replaced because it chipped, and the new one is more opaque than the others. Dr. Hall urges her to go to a genuine cosmetic dentist who understands color and opacity and can give her an accurate color match.
A.R. in California has had upper veneers for seven months, and they are starting to get a yellow tinge. Dr. Hall tells A.R. that properly done porcelain veneers, that are really made out of porcelain, are very color-stable.
Gonzalo in Alabama had one tooth bonded, and now he wants to bleach his teeth. Dr. Hall tells him that his bonded tooth will not bleach and that he should have bleached first and bonded after that.
Sharla in Iowa wants porcelain veneers, but her dentist says they won’t last and that she should have one front tooth pulled and then a bridge. Dr. Hall congratulates her on not wanting her front tooth extracted and urges her to go to a fully trained cosmetic dentist who can give her a beautiful smile.
Matthew in Pennsylvania had his front two teeth bonded. On one tooth, in several places, there is some discoloration in the bonding. Dr. Hall tells him that his dentist may be doing the best that can be done under the circumstances.
Barbara’s daughter in New Jersey had uneven color on her two front teeth. Her dentist recommended bleaching, but the blotchy color hasn’t gotten any better. Dr. Hall tells her that bleaching was the wrong treatment for this case and to consult a fully trained cosmetic dentist for this situation.
Chris in Oregon is having 11 crowns done on her top teeth. After the first appointment, the lab technician said they were going to do porcelain to metal crowns, but Chris wants Empress crowns. Dr. Hall expresses some grave reservations about how this case is proceeding and recommends that she switch dentists.
Silvia in California had a porcelain veneer and a porcelain crown done on her two front teeth. While they looked okay in the office, and she signed a paper in the office that they looked fine, when she goes into outside light, they look different in color. Dr. Hall explains the concept of color metamerism that her general dentist maybe doesn’t understand.
Tracy in New Jersey had porcelain veneers done 22 months ago, and all the porcelain veneers have fallen off. The dentist made a whole new set, and one of the new ones has now fallen off, and all the teeth hurt terribly.
Marie from Wisconsin has had porcelain veneers for six years. The last time she got her teeth cleaned, the hygienist used the prophy jet salt-water spray to clean them. Since then the veneers have become more yellow. Could the spray have damaged the veneers?
Lesley in Texas had Lumineers and crowns placed. Now one of them is turning dark, and she is terribly self-conscious. The advertising makes it seem that it is easy to place Lumineers, but this case shows how going to the wrong dentist can become a terrible mistake.
Mark in Michigan had four porcelain veneers, then had six more done. The new porcelain veneers don’t match the old ones.
Click here to read about the difference between a general dentist and a cosmetic dentist.
Click here to read Dr. Hall’s blog post about how to ask for a refund from your dentist.
By Dr. David Hall