How Much Do I Need for a Smile Makeover?

I am a tad confused about something and hope you can help clear some things up. I want to get porcelain veneers but in order to do that, my dentist is insisting I also get teeth whitening and Invisalign first. I was under the impression that porcelain veneers can make your teeth look white and straight. My teeth aren’t really crooked enough to justify a full orthodontic case. I just have one front tooth that crosses over the adjacent tooth. Have I misunderstood this completely?

Theodora

Hi Theodora,

Porcelain veneer being added to a tooth

Let’s start with the teeth whitening. Whether or not this is useful to you depends on how many veneers you are getting. Very few people can afford to get a porcelain veneer placed on every tooth. That means the other teeth may need some whitening done in order to match your porcelain veneers. Most smiles are 8-10 teeth wide. If you’re only getting four or six veneers, you’ll want to whiten your teeth first to have everything blend naturally. The same goes for your bottom teeth. I doubt you want to spend money to veneer your bottom arch. In most cases, people get enough veneers on their top arch to have a beautiful smile and only whiten the bottom arch.

The Invisalign is a completely different story. Given the scenario you described to me, I don’t think you need orthodontics. Porcelain veneers done well can take care of that issue. The fact that your dentist is suggesting Invisalign tells me that he or she is not comfortable reshaping your teeth for the procedure. Don’t force his hand. Instead, find a cosmetic dentist who has done this lots of times and will be skilled getting it done.

This blog is brought to you by Gilbert Dentist Dr. Matt Roper.

Dental Flippers for Toddlers

I would love some advice from you. I have a three-year-old who lost his front teeth due to a nasty fall that caused some nerve damage. I am really worried about his other teeth shifting into the open space. I asked our pediatric dentist for a dental flipper for him and he acted like I was insane. I know we’ll have to cover the cost because he’s on Medicaid and they hardly cover anything and I don’t mind paying. However, the only do-it-yourself ones to purchase online are only for adults. Do you know where I can get one for children?

Beatrice

Dear Beatrice,

Toddler in a dental chair

I am glad that you are trying to be proactive about your child’s teeth. There are situations where teeth are at risk to shift into the empty spaces, but that is with back teeth, especially the molars that need to stay in place until your child is twelve years old. With the front teeth, there really is not the same risk. Let’s say that he did have a back tooth come out. You would not use a dental flipper, however, for a couple of reasons. The first is it is removable. When you are dealing with a toddler, they will have a hard time keeping it in, which means it can’t do its job and they are likely to lose it. It can also be a choking hazard. A second issue will be how much he will be growing, which includes his jaw. You’d have to get a new one way too often. Instead, when a child loses a back tooth, we use a space maintainer. This is not removable by the child and will serve him for many years.

Though your dentist was correct about not getting a dental flipper, I am not convinced that he is serving you well. As a parent, it is your responsibility to look out for the best interest of your child. That includes asking questions about treatments. He should not have made you feel foolish. You may want to consider looking for another dentist. It does not have to be a pediatric dentist. There are family dentists who work very well with children. Then your whole family could attend the same clinic.

This blog is brought to you by Gilbert Dentist Dr. Matt Roper.