Please help me. In March 2003, I had 6 porcelain veneers placed on my upper front teeth. My teeth were perfectly straight, but I kept getting tooth decay on the top of the teeth by the gumline. The dentist suggested porcelain veneers so I wouldn’t have to get the decay replaced all the time. A couple of months ago I noticed a “line” on my one very front tooth. I went to the dentist and he said the porcelain veneer had cracked and he would replace it free of charge. He put the replacement porcelain veneer in the other day and it is thicker and whiter than the remaining five veneers. When I first asked him about it he said there was nothing he could do. He said he had to make the porcelain veneer thicker so it wouldn’t crack again and so it is thicker and whiter than the others. I told him that this was unacceptable, because my teeth were the exact same color and size before I ever had the porcelain veneers done. He then said he would give me a refund for the one porcelain veneer. I told him that he either had to fix all six of them so they look exactly alike or I want a full refund. I have a consultation scheduled with him on Wednesday. After thinking everything over and spending all night on the Internet doing research, I would just rather get a full refund and go somewhere else. If the doctor refuses to give me a refund what kind of recourse do I have? I do have a close-up picture of my original teeth because I had them bleached right before I had the porcelain veneers done.
—Cindy in New Jersey
You don’t need to make the porcelain veneers thicker in order to keep them from cracking. It sounds like this dentist has only a little bit of experience with porcelain veneers, not enough to make him an expert. We can see if we can find a qualified cosmetic dentist in your part of New Jersey.
It sounds like your dentist is already feeling vulnerable, if he has offered to give you a refund on the one cracked porcelain veneer. You are right to insist that he either get it right or get you a complete refund, and I think you have a reasonable case against him legally, especially since you have the pictures you have. That will give you the leverage you need to get a complete refund. I think you’re smart to ask for that.
Patients are particularly vulnerable with cosmetic dentistry because you have no legal recourse simply because you don’t like how a smile makeover looks. As long as it is functional and looks halfway decent, you would not win a lawsuit, for example. But you had a functional problem with them, and I believe you also have a legal right to insist that all the veneers look the same color.
Porcelain veneers get their strength from the strength of the bond to the teeth, NOT from their thickness. They are typically no thicker than a fingernail. And if one porcelain veneer has cracked, how much longer before the others crack? I don’t think this dentist will want to put up much of a fight with you.
Let me know if you want me to help, and I’ll get on the phone and question some offices and ask to see their work to find an expert cosmetic dentist in your area—this is how we screen dentists to find qualified cosmetic dentists. And we like to get back with you by phone with the results, if that’s okay with you.
Dr. David Hall
Later that day, Cindy replied to our comments:
Dear Dr. Hall,
Thank you so much for responding to my inquiry. I just spoke to the dentist and told him what you said about the thickness of porcelain veneers. He then changed his story and said that the porcelain veneer is thicker because he used a different lab. Every time he opens his mouth he sticks his foot in deeper.
Anyway, he has agreed to give me a full refund. I would really appreciate your help in finding a “real true qualified cosmetic dentist.” I certainly don’t want to make the same bad choice again.
—Cindy in New Jersey
We ended up referring Cindy to a dentist in our network where she received a new set of beautiful porcelain veneers.
Click here if you have a question for Dr. Hall. He especially enjoys helping out in cases like Cindy’s where someone has trouble with their dentist.
Click here for referral to an expert cosmetic dentist who can do beautiful porcelain veneers.
Click here to read the other “cosmetic dentistry horror stories.”
More information about porcelain veneers:
- To read about the porcelain veneer procedure, click here, where we explain what the cosmetic dentist does in each appointment.
- Click here to read about the maintenance and care of porcelain veneers. There are some things you don’t want your hygienist to do in order to keep from chipping them or dulling the surface.
- Can I whiten my porcelain veneers after they’re put on?
- What about Lumineers? Are they any good?
- What should I expect porcelain veneers to cost?
- See beautiful porcelain veneer photos showing off some of the work from dentists in our referral network.
- Click here to read Dr. Hall’s blog post about how to ask for a refund from your dentist.