Veneers turning yellow


When I was 16, I got veneers on my two front teeth. Now, I am 32 and they have a yellow tint and seem to be going black at the top. What could be causing this? And, is there anything I can do? Help! I really hate how they look.
– Alissa in Boston

If properly taken care of, porcelain veneers can easily last 16 years. They should not be turning yellow. Since you did not indicate that they are porcelain veneers, perhaps they are composite? Composite can discolor easily, and can begin to discolor within a year after placement, depending on the person’s dietary and/or smoking habits. Porcelain veneers can also begin to turn yellow if their glazing is damaged by improper cleaning, for example, if they are cleaned with power polishing sprays such as the Prophy Jet.

The black at the top is probably due to the deteriorating bond at the gumline — there is leakage between the underlying tooth and the veneer.  If the dentist isn’t extremely careful to use a proper bonding technique when veneers are placed, the bond will be very vulnerable at the gumline. Then fluid seeps up from the gums during the bonding process. Since this is occurring, it definitely sounds like they should be replaced.

Aside from their poor appearance, the leakage may lead to decay underneath the veneers, so that needs to be cleaned out before it goes too far.

Categories : Porcelain veneers

Snap-On Smile OK for children?



My 9-year-old son has a severely chipped front tooth. It is almost broken in half. We had it fixed, but the repair broke off a week later. The root is not damaged, just the tooth. I am wondering if the Snap-On Smile will work for him until he is old enough to have it capped.
– Janelle from Boston


This is a rare instance in which the Snap-On Smile is not a good choice.

First, by doing a Snap-On Smile you are still leaving him with a tooth that is broken. The Snap-On Smile will only fix the cosmetic issues, not the problems he will have with bite. You need to have a competent dentist fix this tooth permanently, either with porcelain or composite. And, this must be done in such a way that it doesn’t get in the way of his bite.

Aside from the dental issues, there are three main concerns when it comes to doing a Snap-On Smile for a young child:
1. Because it is worn over the teeth it will be bulky.
2. Young children are likely to lose the appliance and these are significantly more expensive than, say, a retainer.
3. At age 9, your son is in what is known as a mixed dentition stage, meaning he has both baby teeth and permanent teeth, with the permanent teeth still coming in. As a result, the fit of something like a Snap-On Smile is going to change,  maybe as often as every couple of months. The appliance may also get in the way of erupting teeth.

I would be most concerned about finding a different dentist to do the tooth repair. The first repair did not break off because of anything related to your son’s age; it broke because it got in the way of his bite and was improperly done.

I would seek out the services of a qualified cosmetic dentist—something with specific training and experience in cosmetic dental bonding—to do a permanent repair of this tooth. That may cost more than the average dental procedure, but likely less than the Snap-On Smile would have.

You can learn more about cosmetic dentistry on our main website: Lowell Cosmetic Dentistry.

Dental implant while taking Fosamax?



I am interested in having a dental implant to replace a front incisor that required extraction. My dentist is reluctant to consider this because I have been taking Fosamax for the past five years. Is it true that you can’t have dental implant surgery while taking this drug?

-Alex in Boston

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Porcelain crowns changing color?


Just over four years ago, my 15-year-old son got porcelain crowns on three of his front teeth. Over the past two years, however, we have noticed that these teeth have gotten significantly darker and are no longer whiter than the teeth on either side. (They were when the crowns were first applied.)

Do you know why this might have happened? What should we do?

-Joyce in Boston


Porcelain crowns, if properly applied and cared for, should not change color. Is it possible that your son had a dental cleaning by a hygienist not experienced in caring for porcelain crowns?

Many dental practices use a device called a Prophy Jet to clean patients’ teeth. The mixture of water and sodium bicarbonate, combined with the force of the spray, can damage the glaze coating the porcelain crowns. Once the glaze is removed or damaged, the porcelain is very vulnerable to staining.

Another common source of damaged porcelain crowns are fluoride treatments with acidulated fluoride. This fluoride can etch the glaze over the porcelain and also leave it vulnerable to staining. Anyone who has had porcelain dental work (crowns or veneers) should be sure to have fluoride treatments with neutral fluoride only.

If you have porcelain crowns or veneers, it’s very important to get regular cleanings from dentists who are experienced with cosmetic dentistry and now how to properly care for and maintain this kind of work. Many general dentists and hygienists do not know that many common treatments can damage porcelain dental work.

As for what to do now: It is possible for a good cosmetic dentist to carefully polish them and improve their appearance. However, if the staining is severe, it can’t truly be reversed without removing the existing crowns and applying new ones.

To learn more about porcelain crowns and cosmetic dentistry by visiting our main website: Michael Szarek, Cosmetic and General Dentistry.

Categories : Porcelain crowns