Why do I have stains between my front teeth when I have porcelain veneers?

I am so sad about my porcelain veneers. I got them a little over a year ago and they were a dream come true.  My smile was exactly what I wanted.  My problem is I’m getting some dark spots in between my front teeth, almost like a line. Have I somehow ruined my new teeth?

Terry in Honolulu

Dear Terry,

Porcelain veneers are nice because they can not only make your smile more beautiful, but they are pretty stain resistant.  Teeth whitening is not needed or suggested when you have porcelain veneers.

So why are there stains on your porcelain veneers?

There is a glaze that is applied to your new porcelain veneers when they are made. The glaze determines the shine of your teeth so they look natural, not dull.  That glaze is also a big factor in the stain resistance of your veneers. Your teeth shouldn’t stain unless that glaze is somehow compromised. This can happen if your dentist uses a power polishing machine at the office or an an inappropriate fluoride treatment.

There are several foods that cause stains on teeth. Coffee and juices are just a couple, not to mention how smoking stains your teeth.  If your porcelain veneers were absorbing stain because of a problem with the glaze, it would be more across the surface of the tooth, not just in one line between the teeth.

Porcelain veneer being added to a toothBecause of the area of stain you describe, it’s likely that your problem is where the veneer meets your tooth. This could be caused by a gap between your tooth and the porcelain veneer that wasn’t bonded well and has allowed stain to enter there.

It could also be that there was some bonding composite on that line that wasn’t polished well. The stains may just be on that bonding agent. If that’s the case, it’s just a matter of repolishing that area.

In either case, a return visit to the dentist who put on your porcelain veneers would be a good place to start.  Hopefully it’s just a simple polishing issue. Really, it’s a good idea to schedule regular maintenance appointments for your veneers. It will help maintain their stain-resistance and increase their life span.

This post is sponsored by Vista Dorada Dental in Gilbert, AZ.

Should I replace silver fillings even if they are fine?

We just moved to a new town and I had my first checkup with a new dentist. I have some older silver fillings in my mouth and this new dentist was talking to me about replacing all of them with white fillings. They have never bothered me, but now I’ve been researching and wondering if I should do it. What do you think?

Allie, Charlottesville

Dear Allie,

There are situations when dentists recommend replacing silver or mercury fillings.

When should you replace silver or mercury fillings?

If the fillings start to leak, bacteria can get under them and lead to tooth decay. Sometimes those fillings will corrode. Sometimes they deteriorate or crack and have to be replaced. If your fillings are falling into one of these categories and there is something wrong with them, it may be worth considering.  Especially if your filling is leaking, that needs to be replaced.

It’s not cheap to replace your silver fillings with white fillings, though. If you are interested in replacing your old fillings because you like the look of it, that’s your choice to spend the money on them. If there is nothing wrong with your current fillings, though, it just comes down to what you prefer.

Most dentists, especially seeing a patient for the first time, will mention silver fillings, and the option to fill them with white amalgam. It let’s the patient know that option is available. That doesn’t necessarily mean it is necessary.

If your dentist spoke to you about your fillings because there is a problem, you could speak to the dentist about having just that one tooth fixed, or if you want to pay for all of them to be white, that’s your choice. There’s no rush to fix all of them.

This post is sponsored by Vista Dorada Dental in Gilbert, AZ.