I needed a full mouth reconstruction because of mild TMJ Disorder. The one thing about this I was sort of excited about is the chance to get my teeth to look the way they used to. I even brought him a good picture of my original smile and told him, “This is what I want.” Throughout the procedure, I would suggest things and he’d say, I need to trust him because he’s been doing this for a long time. He is a specialist on crowns called a prosthodontist, so I trusted him. When the unfinished ones came in, they were the completely wrong color. He told me that I picked the wrong color and his choice was better. But, I insisted I wanted it the color I chose. When these came back, the top arch was darker than the bottom arch. I mentioned that to him and he promised that they only appeared that way because these are unfinished and when they were done it would not be that way. That turned out to be not true. When they came in, the top was definitely darker than the bottom. I told him they needed to be switched and he said that they’ve bent over backward for me and nothing seems to please me. I can either take these or leave with nothing. I was in shock. I couldn’t just leave; I’d have no teeth! Then asked if they could just put them in with a temporary try-in paste will I consider my options and they said no and used permanent cement. My mouth looks ridiculous and I spend over $40,000 on this. Is there anything I can do or am I stuck with these? Communication with him is like talking to a brick wall, but one that talks back and is sure it knows better than you. I’ve been crying since this appointment.
What you are butting up against, which can sometimes be harder than a brick wall, is the prosthodontic mindset. Not all prosthodontists carry this mindset, but I will admit the majority do. You see, they went to extra school to become experts in placing crowns. As a result, they feel confident they are the experts. As a result, they don’t care what you think The problem comes when they think that expertise carries over to the appearance-related side of things. It does not. True cosmetic dentistry is not taught in dental school, nor is it a specialty. If dentists want to develop expertise in the area, they have to voluntarily invest time and money in the training.
The good news is you have leverage here, but you have going to have to be strong and face him. In all honesty, what he did was malpractice. He forced those crowns on you despite multiple efforts and requests on your part to change them. The foundation of dental ethics is informed consent. You didn’t give that voluntarily. He will probably disagree, but consent under duress, which you certainly were under at that moment by being threatened with not having any teeth, is not considered informed consent by any legal definition.
What you want from him is not a refund. Instead, you’ll want him to pay for this case to be re-done by the dentist of YOUR choosing. He will probably argue and refuse. Tell him you will be speaking to an attorney, then go speak to one who understands dental malpractice. I’m fairly confident his malpractice insurance will tell him to give you what you want.
This blog is brought to you by La Jolla Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Stephen Doan.