I have some old porcelain crowns. Years ago, I wanted a smile makeover. My dentist said the veneers weren’t as reliable and he’d suggest crowns instead. I went with it figuring he was my dentist and knew better than I did. I regret that now. I wanted white ones, I got sort-of white ones because he said the only way to make them look natural is to put a subtle staining on them. I was frustrated, but didn’t want my teeth to look fake so, again, went along with them. Fast forward. I have a different dentist. I mentioned how disappointed I’ve always been over the crowns. I told him I wish I’d gone ahead on gotten the porcelain veneers. I thought it was too late to switch, but he told me there’s a way to put Lumineers over old crowns. Is that true? Is there anything I should know ahead of time?
I’m extraordinarily glad you wrote. This is a mistake. The Lumineers brand advertised this quite a few years ago, but there haven’t really been any significant advertising for it in about 10 years. I think that’s because there had been too many problems with the procedure.
Before we get into the problems, it is actually as much work to bond any brand of porcelain veneers on the crowns than it is to have new crowns made.
Porcelain on Porcelain Problem
There are two big problems bonding porcelain onto porcelain. The first is the bond isn’t nearly as strong as the bond with porcelain onto natural tooth structure. This means not only are you at a greater risk of the new bond failing, but your original bond securing your crowns is a risk because of age. Essentially, this doubles your chances of bonding failure.
A second problem occurs with the margins. The margin connecting the two porcelains is at a greater risk of staining than normal. If stains can get in there, so can bacteria.
The Problem Isn’t that You Didn’t Get Porcelain Veneers
Even if you had gotten porcelain veneers on your teeth originally, instead of crowns, the results would have been equally disappointing. The reason for that is your dentist wasn’t a true cosmetic dentist. First, he didn’t know how to do porcelain veneers. He used them not being as reliable as an excuse to not tell you his limits.
Second, he put a stain on them. That’s something general dentists are taught in dental school. Once those dentists study cosmetic dentistry they learn to make the veneers (or crowns) the color the patient wants.
Third, he could likely tell you were disappointed but went on to bond them anyway. A true cosmetic dentist would never have done that. If a patient is not completely thrilled, a good cosmetic dentist would send those puppies right back to the lab to make the changes necessary to make their patient squeal with joy at their new smile.
In your particular case, the solution is to have your porcelain crowns re-done. This time, however, have them done by an AACD accredited dentist. Accredited dentists are the top cosmetic dentists in the country. You’ll be sure to get a stunning smile. The one you should have received the first time around.
This blog is brought to you by La Jolla Dentist Dr. Stephen Doan.