In September 2019, I received six crowns on my upper front teeth, and they are turning yellow. I’m not a smoker, soda or coffee drinker, or a sugar addict. Although the crowns were beautiful when I received them, they now look like I forgot to brush my teeth this morning. I’m afraid to return to the dentist who placed my crowns. Before I make an appointment with anyone, will you please give me some ideas about what’s causing the problem and how it can be fixed? Am I correct that this isn’t something that teeth bleaching gel won’t help? Thanks – Tana from Bear, DE
As you realize, your crowns should not be turning yellow. Porcelain is stain-resistant, so if even you were a smoker or coffee drinker, your crowns wouldn’t attract stains. And porcelain is colorfast so the issue cannot be resolved with teeth bleaching—whether it’s take-home or in-office treatment.
What Causes Porcelain Crowns to Turn Yellow?
Three possible causes include:
1. Damage during dental cleaning – If you’ve had a dental cleaning since you received your crowns, the hygienist who cleaned your teeth could have damaged the service with a power cleaning instrument, such as a Prophy Jet. This tool cleans your teeth with blasts of sodium bicarbonate, but this power cleaning damages the glaze on porcelain veneers and crowns. Acidulated fluoride treatment is another possible culprit that chemically etches away the glaze on porcelain.
2. Damaged glaze when crowns were placed – If your dentist adjusted the front surfaces of your crowns while setting them, he or she might have damaged with glaze. Or maybe the laboratory that made the crowns didn’t glaze them properly.
3. Crowns are not porcelain – It sounds outrageous, but sometimes patients think they received porcelain crowns but received composite instead. If a dentist misrepresents treatment to make you believe you have porcelain crowns when you don’t, you have the leverage to get the dentist to pay for the correction. If your dentist falsely advertised your cosmetic work as one treatment—but you received another—you can threaten to notify the state dental board about the issue.
We recommend that you schedule an appointment with an accredited cosmetic dentist for a second opinion. The dentist will examine your dental crowns, identify what’s causing the discoloration, and explain your options for regaining a white smile.
Michael Szarek, DMD, an accredited cosmetic dentist in Lowell, MA, sponsors this post.