Q: I like my dentist. I don’t see him very often and that’s the way I like it – a guy thing you know. He’s a run and gun type, always up and nothing is a big deal with him. So several years ago when he said “man your front teeth need a new look; you’re out in public, on T.V. and your front teeth don’t look good – no offense” he said. “None taken” I retorted, “so what do I do”? In minutes he’d outlined a procedure to do some new crowns that would look natural and I agreed. “What about the bottom front I asked?” “No need” he said, “there’s no old fillings and no decay – we’ll whiten them up to match the new crowns and you’ll have a dazzling smile”. And that’s what I did – it turned out great! That was several years ago and I haven’t felt a need to return – but last week my four year old grandson was over. All of a sudden he said – “Grandpa why are your teeth brown”? “Do they cut your mouth? I said “what do you mean, I have nice white teeth”. “I mean these teeth”, he said, nearly sticking his finger in my mouth pointing at my lower front teeth. ”Let’s see” I said, going to the mirror. In one second, he saw worn down discolored teeth I hadn’t ever seen. I look at my hair, my tie; flash my upper pearlies in the mirror and go. How did I miss this? What’s happened? My teeth are sharp like they’ve been filed and they’re brown! How did that happen all of a sudden? Can my dentist put crowns or veneers on my teeth and fix the problem? If my four year grandson saw it instantly others must too. I am in the public eye, I need a quick fix.
A: You have a deep overbite. I’m sure your dentist saw it as he crowned your upper front teeth. Maybe he thought you’d be back regularly after your crowns were in. Porcelain crowns are seven times more abrasive than your own enamel. A deep overbite means your upper teeth travel over the front of your lower teeth, top to bottom, causing wear every time you swallow, chew your food or grind your teeth.
A few microns a day add up, and in just three or four years as teeth wear, they erupt (grow micron by micron) back to the original place so that now if you replaced the lost enamel and dentin with crowns, it would be like putting a prop in the front of your mouth. Your front teeth would touch but the back teeth wouldn’t.
This will take more than a “run and gun” approach. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot – a quick fix means a thorough fix so it won’t happen again.