I visited a cosmetic dentist to have a gap closed. I lived with the gap for 40 years but finally decided to close it because it looked like it was becoming larger. The dentist recommended 6 dental crowns. He seemed like he knew what he was doing. I’m sorry that I wasn’t told that closing the gap would change my speech and that I would have to practice pronouncing certain words to make them clear. Also, it might be a coincidence, but I’m now having neck and jaw pain. My dentist claims it just takes time to get used to my teeth without a gap between them. I received the crowns in November. Is this a long-term adjustment? I’m certainly not asking him to do anymore work on my teeth, but is it possible to have the crowns removed from my center front teeth so I can just live with the gap and be able to speak clearly again? Thanks. Austin
It is likely that the dental crowns you received from the cosmetic dentist are the cause of your speech problems and your neck and jaw pain. True cosmetic dentists close gaps with dental crowns and their patients have no speech issues or neck and jaw pain.
Before we continue with an explanation of a possible cause of your discomfort, let us explain what we meant by a “true cosmetic dentist.”
What Is True Cosmetic Dentistry?
Cosmetic dentistry involves enhancing the appearance of teeth. Any dentist can claim to be able to repair or fix your teeth—any dentist can claim to be a cosmetic dentist. But a true cosmetic dentist has several qualifications, including:
- Extensive post-graduate training in cosmetic dentistry
- Artistic inclination
- Participates in on-going training for cosmetic dentistry to stay current with the latest tools and techniques needed to give you a natural-looking smile
A small amount of cosmetic dentists in the United States are so passionate about producing beautiful results that they set the goal of becoming accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Accreditation attests to a dentist’s clinical skill and artistic ability, because it includes:
- A written exam
- An oral exam by the American Board of Cosmetic Dentistry
- Completing, extensively documenting, and submitting five patient cases that demonstrate a broad range of cosmetic dentistry work
What’s Causing Your Discomfort?
Although Dr. Szarek would need to examine your teeth, crowns, and bite, it seems that your cosmetic dentist opened your bite too far. Crowns that are too thick or too long can prevent your lips from closing together naturally. If your crowns are too thick, your bite—or the way your teeth fit together—could be misaligned and jaw and neck pain can result.
Can Your Gap Closure Be Reversed?
We realize that you’re disappointed and frustrated. When a patient receives dental crowns, his or her natural teeth are prepared—significantly shaved down—to ensure the dental crowns fit over the teeth. The tooth reduction cannot be reversed. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to have your natural teeth as they were before. If the issue cannot be corrected with your existing crowns, you will need new crowns.
You’ll need a consultation and a second opinion.
- Before you schedule a consultation, try to find an accredited cosmetic dentist. If you can’t find an accredited dentist, select a cosmetic dentist who has extensive training, beyond dental school, in occlusion/bite and cosmetic dentistry. Look on the dentist’s website for information on his or her education, training, and credentials.
- Schedule a consultation; it will likely last 10-15 minutes. Some patients decide to schedule consultations with two different cosmetic dentists so they can compare options, costs, office environments, the dentist’s interaction with them, and whatever is important to the patient to have a positive experience.
- During the consultation, ask to see before-and-after photos of the work the dentist has completed on multiple patients whose gaps were closed with dental crowns.
- If you’re pleased with your interaction with the dentist, you can schedule an appointment for an examination to determine the cause of the issues you’re experiencing.
- After an examination, and possibly digital x-rays, the dentist will explain the source of the problem, as well as your treatment options.
The before-and-after photos below show how cosmetic dentistry with dental crowns can beautiful close gaps between teeth.
This post is sponsored by Dr. Michael Szarek. Dr. Szarek is located in Lowell, MA and is accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.