I have been living a dental nightmare. I recently had to get several teeth replaced with a 7-unit permanent bridge. The dental implants were placed in my mouth, and the dental bridge was placed with temporary cement to secure it in place. Sadly, it all came out within an hour. So, I went back to the dentist and he decided to re-cement the dental bridge with with permanent cement. He didn’t tell me that is what he was doing, and I hadn’t even seen how they would look in my mouth. Now, a few days have passed and I keep telling myself that I will get used to the way my teeth look. Well, that is not the case. The teeth look too long. They feel dry and they are rough. When I went back into the dentist, he told me that there wasn’t anything more that could be done at this point. He said that if he removed anyting at this point, it would ruin the dental bridge and pull out the implants. Is that true? Is there really nothing that can be done? I thought I was going to have more time to get used to things with the temporary cement before they were permanently cemented into place. Is there any repercussion or anything I can do to get this fixed or have the dentist make it right?
-Janet in California
We are so sorry to hear that you aren’t liking the way your new smile looks. Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot that can be done at this point. It’s so disappointing to hear from patients with similar stories, and sadly happens all too often.
The response your dentist provided is partially true. Removing the dental bridge will would likely ruin the bridge or pull out the dental implant posts. The ‘or’ is important because it is possible to grind down the bridge and save the dental implants. So, it technically is possible to redo the bridge, But, he may not want to do that.
Anyway, that doesn’t help you now since you have the restoration permanently cemented into place. Many dentist’s will stick with the temporary cement until you let them know that you are 100% happy with the way they look and feel. But, the problem is that not every dentist is focused on aesthetics or cares about how things look. Many dentists come from a functional mindset to repair the problem. There are only a very tiny portion of all dentists (less than 2%) that are passionate about creating beauty. These types of dentist are called cosmetic dentists, and in order to provide beautiful cosmetic dentistry takes extensive training beyond dental school.
It can be assumed that your dentist isn’t focused on the appearance of your smile. If it looks fine to him, his mindset is likely that it’s time to cement it, and move on.
Sadly, at this point, there’s not much that can be done to fix this problem. Also, you really don’t have much leverage to take action. If you tried to pursue anything legally like suing him, he would have many other dentists backing him up to say that the bridge was functionally sound and there was no problem with it. So, you would be fighting a battle about your opinion about how it looks. And almost all of those dentists would side with him and state that it looks fine. In a legal realm, it doesn’t really matter that you aren’t satisfied.
The other issue you mentioned is that the bridge is not very smooth. At least that is something that could be fixed, depending on how rough it is. The restoration could be polished. Here is something that you could try. When the teeth are dry, mark them with a pencil. If the pencil leaves a mark, then the glaze is not done correctly or it is already gone. Now, that would be considered a functional issue and you would have recourse to have the dentist redo the polish and pay for that part of it. When a restoration has been polished properly, the pencil mark would not stay. There are special polishing tools that are required to do this correctly, and not all dentists know or understand this technique. If your dentist did indeed fall short on this component of your treatment, he could contact a dental supply representative to get the tools to apply adequate polish. That would help with the way they feel. But, still your stuck with a restoration that you don’t like the look of.
For anyone who is reading this and cares about how the end result will look, it is important to find an implant dentist that is skilled in cosmetic dentistry. An excellent cosmetic dentist wouldn’t have permanently cemented anything in place without getting your consent. Again, this emphasizes the drastic difference between a general dentist who is trained to fix things and a true cosmetic dentist who is like an artist and is passionate about creating beauty.
An expert cosmetic dentist isn’t satisfied until you love your new smile. If there was even an inkling of dissatisfaction in your voice, the cosmetic dentist would ask you more questions and tweak how it looks, until you loved the result. Then, once you said you are happy, it would be permanently cemented.
At this point, it would be wise to find a reputable cosmetic dentist in your area to see if there are any alterations or reshaping that can be done on your dental bridge.
This post is sponsored by Petaluma dentist Dr. Rick Lane.