Have you ever seen someone with a crown on their front tooth that sticks out like a sore thumb? It is easy to recognize and classify these crowns as “poorer quality” or un-natural. However, it’s harder to tell high quality from poor quality work in the back of the mouth. So, the important question is, how can you know that your dentist is doing the best work and putting materials in your mouth that are going to last?
Maybe you have known your dentist for a long time, or you choose them because they had good reviews on Google. Sometimes these are good indicators, but other times more in-depth information is needed.
One of the most important things I would like to point out (because it is easy to overlook) in regards to the quality of dental work is the dental lab in which the dentist uses. Dental labs are used to make crowns and veneers, and they are certainly not created equal. The dental lab is often the real marker of the quality you are getting.
Yes, the dentist does have to be technically skilled; however, a technically skilled dentist and a poor lab will yield less than ideal results. Natural appearing, comfortable, and long-lasting results come from a technically skilled dentist who uses a high-quality lab.
Here are some signs that crowns or veneers may have been from a lower quality lab:
- Do the porcelain veneers look like white chicklets? Is the color of the crown bland and opaque?
- There is a gap between the crown and the tooth, leaving open space for plaque to get it?
- There is food packing between your teeth.
- Did you get a cavity under a crown that was placed recently?
- Did you begin having sensitivity in the tooth after having the crown placed? (There are a few other causes of this as well).
Here are a few crowns that fall into the above categories:
Below are some attributes our practice looks for when having porcelain crowns or veneers made.
- Does it appear natural and does it blend in with the other teeth?
- Can you floss around it like a natural tooth?
- Will the crown keep food from packing between the teeth?
- Does the bite feel normal?
- Does the crown or veneer fit the tooth in an air-tight manner? Let me explain this one. When a dentist gets a tooth ready for a crown, he or she creates a thin ledge that surrounds the tooth. Your dental crown should have a ledge that exactly fits the one on your tooth within a tenth of a millimeter. The ledge is called the margin of the crown. Having an open margin is the primary cause for getting a new cavity or having sensitivity under a new crown (many times lower quality labs produce crowns that don’t fit the tooth in this manner).
Here is an example of a few crowns from our practice that fit these characteristics:
I hope this has shed some light on a subject that is not often talked about since it goes on behind the scenes. Using a quality lab is a must for delivering work that appears natural and lasts its full lifespan.
For crowns and veneers, the lifespan should be 20-30 years if planned well and if taken care of properly. The quality of the work is equally or more important for patients who are considering having cosmetic work done. You should always ask to see before and after photos of the dentists’ personal work and not something they took off the internet (it happens).
Let me know what you think about this. Have you or anyone you know experienced any of these?
Talk to You Soon,
Will Yoder, DMD