My dark tooth makes me want to hide my smile


I chipped one of my front teeth when I was young. Later, I needed to have a filling placed in the left portion of this same tooth. I am now 57 years old and my front tooth appears to be getting darker. This embarrasses me and it makes me not want to smile. I have discussed this issue with my dentist. He has stated that it may be too risky to put a crown on the tooth. Since it is dead the canal has calcified. I was looking into Lumineers and my dentist discouraged me from this product as well. He said I wouldn’t be happy with the result.

~Cindy from New York


There are many types of porcelain veneers and Lumineers is just one particular brand. So in response to your question, I will be referring to porcelain veneers in general. Porcelain veneers are a cosmetic procedure that is not taught in dental school. From what you have outlined, it sounds as if your dentist may be uncomfortable with cosmetic dentistry techniques. If a dentist knows how to use veneers, they are a beautiful solution to a wide range of issues. Although, if a dentist is not familiar with them, they may steer you away.

Dentists are trained to fix things and a dentist trained in cosmetic dentistry has an artistic eye. I would recommend you continue on with your dentist for routine cleanings, checkups, and general dentistry. But I do feel that when porcelain veneers are done correctly, they are an excellent solution for a case like yours. You should find a cosmetic dentist that puts top priority on appearance.

If you are satisfied with your smile and the look of your other teeth, then all that may be needed is a direct dental bonding or just one porcelain veneer over the darkened tooth. A full set of porcelain veneers may be warranted if you have things that you aren’t happy with on your other teeth.

Once again, it is important to seek out a true artistic dentist that has an eye for beauty for this type of work. I hope you can proudly smile again soon.

Space Maintainers for Children

My daughter is six years old and has two broken baby molars. Tooth decay caused the problem and our dentist recommended extraction since they are infected. Is that my only option? 

Kathy from Nevada


When a child’s baby molars are infected, extraction is required. Typically when a tooth is infected a root canal can be performed. But, due to the shape of the roots on a child’s molar, it is not possible to do root canal treatments. That is why the tooth extraction has been recommended. It is important you follow through with this. If this condition is left untreated, the infection will affect her permanent teeth that are still developing.

It is likely that the dentist will want to put in some space maintainers. This will help hold the space where each tooth is removed. Your daughter’s permanent molars will be coming in very soon behind the baby molars. There are other problems that could occur if the space maintainers are not used. For example, the permanent molars can drift forward and this will block out the permanent premolars from coming in normally.

For more information, read more about pediatric dentistry and family dentistry.