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Her porcelain veneers keep falling off, but are they really veneers?

Posted by AllSmiles

Last December, my dentist ground down my upper front teeth for porcelain veneers. Although I’ve had this dentist since 2008, I regret trusting him for the work. And after researching online, he probably should not have recommended veneers for the issues with my teeth. Two teeth had slight chips, and one tooth was shorter than the other. I also wanted whiter teeth.

After my dentist reduced my teeth to stumps, I wore temporary veneers for almost three weeks. Then he bonded on the permanent veneers. In less than a month, a veneer popped off. My dentist is so kind that he asked me to come into the office the same day that I called, and he bonded the veneer on again. But again, in less than a month, another veneer popped off. My dentist says that he doesn’t know why the veneers are coming off. He asked me if I wear my night guard every night because grinding my teeth could be weakening the veneers. Of course, I wear my night guard, and I don’t believe that this issue is my fault. I noticed that when I slide my tongue across the backside of some of the veneers, I feel a ledge on them. Those veneers seem to come off more frequently.

Two weeks ago, a dental assistant called from my dentist’s office and said that my dentist wants me to come in so he can try something else to keep my veneers on. It sounds like he is guessing about the problem. I can tell that another veneer is loose and will come off soon, but I am nervous about returning to my dentist. Although he is kind, I know that kindness cannot correct this issue. Before I agreed to veneers, he told me that veneers would last 15 to 20 years, but if I must return to the dental office every month for the next 20 years, it is not worth it.

Why can’t my dentist figure out why the veneers are popping off? Will another dentist eventually need to remove them and give me crowns instead? Thank you. Tanya from Springfield, MO



Thank you for asking us about your cosmetic dentistry nightmare. We are sorry to hear about the anxiety and frustration your dentist is causing. Although Dr. Goebel would have needed to examine your teeth before your dentist ground them down, it is possible that teeth whitening and composite bonding would have revived your smile.

Based on your description, your dentist might be liable for malpractice. We have several concerns.

You Received Porcelain Crowns, Not Veneers

Unfortunately, some dentists tell their patients that they are receiving porcelain veneers, but the dentist gives them crowns instead. If your dentist ground your teeth down to stumps, that form of tooth preparation says that you received porcelain crowns—not veneers. Please consider these facts:

  • A dentist removes only a half-millimeter or less of tooth enamel to prepare teeth for porcelain veneers, but your teeth are now stumps.
  • Porcelain veneers are bonded to the front of your teeth only, and they will not adhere to teeth that a dentist reduces to stumps.
  • You will not feel a ledge on the backside of a veneer, because the back of it is bonded to your tooth.
  • You may feel a ledge on a dental crown’s backside if there is a problem with it.

Unfortunately, the facts show that you received dental crowns, but they are problematic because they keep popping off.

Why Do Porcelain Veneers and Crowns Keep Coming Off?

The tip of dental forceps are holding a porcelain veneer next to a lateral incisor tooth
A porcelain veneer requires minimal preparation to bond to the front of a tooth

Porcelain veneers and crowns can come off due to over-preparation and incorrect bonding techniques.

  • Over-preparation for veneers – Only a fraction of a millimeter of tooth enamel must be removed to ensure veneers fit well on the tooth and at the gumline. Too much preparation causes loose veneers that fall off.
  • Over-preparation for crowns – Although your teeth must be shaved on all sides for a crown to fit over it, aggressive preparation results in a short, stubby tooth. And the crown is left with minimal tooth structure to adhere to (retention form), so it will loosen and come off.
  • Bonding techniques – A dentist must apply enough bonding material for a secure attachment and remove any excess bonding material between your tooth and the restoration. And the composite bonding must be cured properly for porcelain veneers.

When Your Dentist Did the Wrong Dental Treatment

If your dentist does the wrong dental treatment, they are responsible for correcting it or compensating you to have another dentist fix it. You agreed to porcelain veneers, but your dentist gave you crowns. The results from your crowns make it clear that your dentist does not have the skill to do either veneers or crowns.

  • Proper restoration – We believe that your dentist is responsible for paying to have your teeth restored correctly by an advanced cosmetic dentist who knows what they are doing.
  • Future problems – Your dentist should also be willing to compensate you for issues you can experience in the future from excessive tooth preparation.

How to Get a Refund from Your Dentist

You can get a refund from your dentist by explaining that you did not receive the agreed-upon cosmetic treatment. If your dentist resists, you can inform him that you will report the issue to the state dental board. And follow through.

But first, we recommend that you find a dentist with advanced cosmetic dentistry training and experience. You can schedule consultations with two dentists to examine your teeth and discuss your options. After you select a cosmetic dentist, you can talk to your current dentist and ask for compensation. And your new cosmetic dentist may be willing to provide documentation and help you request a refund.

Dentists have malpractice insurance, so hopefully, your current dentist will agree to pay for your dental care. If you need to hire an attorney, the judge or arbitrator will likely grant you a substantial award.

Unfortunately, your dentist prepared your teeth so aggressively that you will still need dental crowns. Porcelain veneers will not stay on teeth that a dentist ground down to tiny stumps. But a skilled cosmetic dentist can recreate your smile with dental crowns and make it look beautiful and natural.

Best wishes.

Dr. Thomas J. Goebel, a cosmetic dentist in Moline, IL, sponsors this post.