I recently had a full-mouth reconstruction done. Though, it was because it was necessary due to severe TMJ Disorder, I was looking forward to a beautiful smile as well. It is not often you get to design your smile from scratch. I went to a well respected prosthodontist because he had extra training in tooth replacements and prosthetics. I brought a few old photographs from my smile 30 years ago. I used to have a great smile. I did tell him the photo was exactly what I wanted. When we first started out he took the photo and said, “Trust me. You’re going to love your smile.”
The first time the dental crowns came in, I told him they were not the right color. He told me I chose the wrong color for my age and that he knows what he is doing. I argued and said I really wanted the color I chose. He was upset, but agreed to send them back because they weren’t fitting quite right anyway. Fast forward to three try ins later. Whenever I tried these in, bear in mind that I couldn’t see them very well because they kept falling out. However, it seemed to me that the top teeth were much darker than the bottom ones.
I mentioned that and he assured me that it was only because they were unfinished. Once the lab put the finish on they would be fine. I had doubts, but again, he assured me he’d been doing this a long time so I tried to be confident that he’d give me a good smile. Once they were finished it still looked like the top teeth were darker. I mentioned that and he acted like I was seeing things. He gave me the option of keeping these or going without teeth and said he’d bent over backward to make me happy.
I asked if we could just do the bottoms and redo the tops and he said no. Then I asked if he could put in the tops with temporary stuff so I could get someone else’s opinion. Again, he said no. I left in tears with teeth that don’t match. Is there any way I can approach this where I can get the smile I want?
First, I will say right off the bat that I am sorry this happened to you. What you are dealing with is what many cosmetic dentists like to call the dental school mentality, which says, “I went to school for this and you didn’t, so I know best.” This is especially true with prosthodontists who consider themselves experts in their field because of their extra schooling. While this is true on a technical basis, it does not factor in the expertise needed for appearance related dentistry. Nor, will I add, do most of them care. They tut-tut appearance related concerns. I don’t think you’re going to get the smile you want from him. However, that does not mean that you cannot get the smile you want elsewhere.
You are, however, going to have to be pretty darn tough. He is unlikely to work with you. What you need is to get a lawyer who will threaten to take him to court if he doesn’t pay the cost of you getting this done right.
Understanding Your Rights
Informed consent is a big part of dentistry and he did not get your consent. Now, he may argue that you agreed to let him bond them on in the end, which is true. However, consent under duress is not consent. Find a lawyer who understands this principle and will warn the dentist that if you go to court, you are likely to get damages for emotional distress as well as possible punitive damages. This will be on top of paying for the repair and replacement. I don’t think it will take the dentist long to realize the position he is in.
Getting Both Form and Function
You will want a dentist who has real skills in cosmetic dentistry that does beautiful smile makeovers. In your position, I would look for someone who is accredited with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). AACD accredited dentists are the best cosmetic dentists in the country. They will guarantee you a smile that both functions well in addition to looking absolutely stunning.
This blog is brought to you by Des Moines Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Phelan Thomas.