Tag Archives: Teeth Whitening

Lumineers Disaster

I went into my dentist for a smile makeover. He gave me four Lumineers. When I went there, I was very specific with him that I wanted a white smile. Yet, when my Lumineers came in and were placed, I noticed they weren’t white like we’d discussed. I tried to like them, but after a few days, I called him. I expressed that I didn’t like the color. That’s when he told me he placed a stain on them so they’d look “normal”. I was quite disappointed to hear that as it went against my expressed desires. He offered to take the stain off. That idea thrilled me. I went there with high hopes. Those hopes were dashed when I saw the results. Essentially, all he did was drill off the top layer. This made the teeth look dull and uneven, which is even worse. Do I have any way of affordably getting this fixed?


Dear Brandon,

A porcelain veneer being placed on a tooth

The smile makeover procedure you had reminds me a little to much of the middle-grade books, A Series of Unfortunate Events. I can tell from the way you described things that your dentist is either fairly new at cosmetic dentistry and is dipping his toes in the smile makeover waters, or he’s just completely incompetent. Because Lumineers is highly marketed to inexperienced cosmetic dentists as being easier to place than other brands of porcelain veneers, I suspect (or maybe hope) it is the former.

Let’s start with the fact that he did four Lumineers. Most people’s smiles are around eight to ten teeth wide. If you don’t want a bi-color smile, you have two choices. First, you can get that many porcelain veneers. A great option if you can afford it. However, not everyone can. In that case, your second option is to have your teeth whitened before you have your veneers made. This way the teeth will be close enough in color to make sense and blend.

The next disastrous decision is he stained them. Yes, you said you wanted a white smile, but your dentist thought, “I’m the professional and know better.” So, he put a stain on them to make them look like regular teeth. This is an attitude taught in general dental school. However, people paying for a new smile don’t want “regular” teeth. They want gorgeous teeth. This is why dentists who invest in post-doctoral training in smile makeovers learn the opposite. You aren’t creating normal smiles. Instead, you are creating your patient’s dream smile.

Amateur move number three is him bonding them on without you getting a look at them. True cosmetic dentists will use a temporary try-in paste, give you plenty of time to look at the veneers in various lightings, and decide if you are thrilled with them. If you’re not, they don’t get bonded on. The dentist will make the changes necessary to achieve the results you want. You’re paying for a stunning smile. You should get one.

His Disastrous Lumineers “Fix”

Finally, let’s get into your dentist’s “fix” for his misjudgment. What he should have done when you told him this wasn’t the color you agreed to was to start over and provide you with new Lumineers. That, however, would cost him time and money. So, he takes a short cut and drills off the stain. While this ruined your Lumineers, this is actually good news for you.

Because he damaged them, he is now obligated to fix them. I would not just get a refund or have him re-do them. He’s shown a disregard for your wishes, as well as a lack of commitment to the quality of his work. What you need to do is tell him you would like him to cover the cost of another dentist replacing them.

Before deciding on a second dentist, look at their smile gallery. Make sure there are before and after pictures of cases they’ve done personally, not just stock photos. Even then, only go forward if you absolutely love the after results they acheived.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.

Do I Need a Mercury-free Dentist to Remove One Filling?

I have a silver filling I want to get rid of. I asked my dentist and he said the panic about silver fillings is overblown and I’m safer leaving them in. I don’t want to leave it in. Do I need to switch dentists or is he right about it being unsafe to remove?


Dear Megan,

Left: silver amalgam filling Right: mercury-free composite filling

If a dentist doesn’t know how to do a sanitary amalgam removal, then yes, you’re better off leaving them in. However, you don’t have to if you truly don’t want to. Especially if they’re getting old, you’re much better off removing it before it starts to leak.

There are dentists who will know how to remove them safely. I’d look for a mercury-free dentist in your place. They’ll know how to keep you from inhaling any mercury vapors or swallowing any bits of mercury. Aside from a stopper dam, they’ll need a fan and cold water to keep the mercury from melting.

Once you remove the silver fillings, you can replace them with white composite fillings. These are actually better for your teeth than their silver predecessor anyway.

If you’re happy with your dentist, you can just go to another one for this removal and replacement. However, if you and your dentist tend to disagree in treatment philosophy, you could use this as an opportunity to find another dentist.

Look at the website of some local dentists. Make sure they’re mercury-free. It’s also good to see if they offer other services you may be interested in. For instance, if you’re looking for services such as teeth whitening, make sure you can get that as well.

Then, when you have a list of possibilities, be certain to check out their reviews. Many people leave reviews on sites such as Google or Yelp!

This will tell you if they do quality work and whether or not they have a good chairside manner and patients enjoy working with them.

Best of luck to you.
This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Affordable Dentists Drs. Kevin and Hillary Peck.

Poor Man’s Smile Makeover

I wanted to get a smile makeover because my teeth are so stained. Plus, I have a tiny gap between the two front teeth. I looked at porcelain veneers, but they were way out of my budget. Is there a way to get my smile more attractive without losing my home?


Dear Lexie,

Dollar sign hatched from an egg
There are always affordable alternatives.

I’m a firm believer in the fact that there’s always an affordable dental alternative. You’re right that porcelain veneers are a tad on the expensive side. However, that doesn’t mean you are trapped with a smile you’re not proud of. Based on what you described, you’re a good candidate for two procedures which can repair both of those problems. These can make your smile look beautiful.

I’d start by getting your teeth whitened. This is probably the most affordable procedure you can do for your smile with amazing results. It will take years off your appearance in one fell swoop.

In addition to that, there’s an easy solution for your tooth gap. Dental bonding uses a composite resin to fill in the gap. A cosmetic dentist will hand sculpt the new inner edges of your teeth in a way that they meet perfectly.

It’s important you whiten your teeth first. Once the resin is molded and dried, the color cannot be changed. That’s why you’ll want your teeth the color you’ll want permanently so your dentist can match the resin to it.

What You Want in an Affordable Dentist

I don’t want you to confuse a cheap dentist with an affordable dentist. A cheap dentist will cut corners, which rarely works out well for the patient. An affordable dentist will still do quality work but find other ways to save you money.

Generally, they’ll try to keep their fees reasonable, but often they also offer payment plans. They can do that with either an in-house payment plan or through Care Credit.

You also want a dentist who tells you all of your alternative treatment plans. Just like there was a more affordable option for your smile makeover, your dentist should give you all your options. It’s the only ethical way to handle things.

One other suggestion. You should always check reviews of every medical practitioner before you see them. It’s always wise to learn from the experiences of others.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Kevin Peck.

Dentist Stained My Lumineers

I’m a little upset but don’t know how to proceed. I asked my dentist for a cosmetic dentist recommendation. He said every dentist is a cosmetic dentist and he can do whatever I need. I told him I wanted a smile makeover. He told me about his certification in Lumineers. I was relieved to know he was certified so I agreed to let him do it. We discussed that I wanted my front teeth lengthened and to have all of them made as white as they can. He seemed fine with everything I’d mentioned. But, when he put the Lumineers on, I was so disappointed. First, they looked bulky. I’m not sure why because these were supposed to be ultra-thin. That’s one of the reasons he recommended them. But, the worst was the color. I told him I wanted it very white, but it wasn’t. I asked him why and he said for any smile makeover to look natural, he insisted their needs to be some natural staining. Is there any way to whiten these?

Jean M.

Dear Jean,

A dental tool holding up a single Lumineer

While there isn’t a cosmetic dentistry specialty, that doesn’t mean that every dentist is a cosmetic dentist. Every dentist is allowed to practice cosmetic dentistry. But, not every dentist is skilled in the art. And believe me, it is an art.

Certification in Lumineers sounds much more impressive than it is in reality. To receive certification they just have to attend a seminar. That’s it. There’s no examination of skill at all. None. Your dentist is what I’d call either a beginner cosmetic dentist or a dabbler. You asked about a smile makeover. He just got certified and decided this was a good chance to hone his skills and practice.

The problem is, he still has a general dentist’s mindset. In dental school, we’re taught we know better than the patient. We understand more about the science than you do. The problem is, if he’d studied cosmetic dentistry (which all has to be done post-graduate) he’d know that cosmetic dentistry is an art form. And art is in the beauty of the beholder. The beholder, in this case, is YOU. You decided what is a beautiful smile. If you want white teeth. You get them. If you want crooked teeth (and we’ve had requests like that) you get them.

He doesn’t understand that so he assumed he knew better than you and put a stain on them. If you’d wanted stained teeth, why get a smile makeover?

What do Do From Here About Your Lumineers

Unfortunately, teeth whitening only works on natural tooth structure. It will not whiten your Lumineers. The only way to fix this is to have the case re-done. You have a decent case for a full refund because he didn’t create the Lumineers you’d paid for.

In your case, I’d ask for a full refund from your dentist explaining he didn’t give you what you’d agreed on. Then go to a different cosmetic dentist. Look at their “brag book” to make sure you like the results they get before committing.

You’ll probably find that better cosmetic dentists tend to avoid the Lumineers brand. Even though they’re ultra-thin, the results tend to be bulky without tooth preparation and their lab isn’t known to be artistic. They’ll likely suggest a different brand of porcelain veneers. This is one case where I wouldn’t argue. If they’ve studied the craft as they should, they’d know which brands will have the nuances you want for your new smile.

This blog is brought to you by Drs. Kevin and Hillary Peck.

Is Affordable Dentist Dragging Out Procedures for Money?

My teeth are in bad shape. I decided to finally take steps to improve them. I don’t have a ton of money because I’m a single mom. I did some research to find an affordable dentist who had good reviews. My only question is he’s been having me come in for almost two years at least once a month. Yet, the only improvement I’m seeing is my teeth are a bit whiter. Nothing else has been done. I still have crooked teeth. I still have two chipped teeth. He knows I want to improve those things but keeps telling me we have “other priorities”. Shouldn’t I be seeing more results by now? Is he dragging this out to just make money?

Lacey Q.

Dear Lacey,

A smiling blonde with a beautiful smile

Did your dentist mention to you why he has you coming in so often? The only thing I can think of which warrants that many appointments would be advanced periodontal disease. If that’s your situation then your dentist really can’t do anything else until that is cured. If that isn’t brought under control you can actually lose your teeth.

All that being said, two years is a very long time for that to take with as often as you’ve been coming in for treatments. I’m going to recommend you get a second opinion. I’m not saying your affordable dentist is dragging things out to make up profits, but it is an unusual amount of time.

Affordable Dental Makeovers

When people think of a smile makeover, usually it’s porcelain veneers they’re talking about. However, that is a pricey procedure and not for someone on a tight budget. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a gorgeous smile. There are affordable cosmetic procedures you can have done.

But, first things first, make certain your gum disease is under control. If you get orthodontics done before that, you risk your teeth coming loose.

As an adult, you’ll want to use Invisalign for your “braces”. This will allow you to straighten your teeth without anyone knowing. Additionally, the aligners can double as teeth whitening trays which saves you even more money.

That brings us to the teeth whitening. It’s an affordable procedure which can single-handedly make you look years younger.

Once that’s completed, a good cosmetic dentist can give you dental bonding to repair your chipped teeth. You’ll have a stunning smile you can be proud of…all on a budget.

This blog is brought to you by Drs. Kevin and Hillary Peck.

Dentist Hates Lumineers

I’ve been saving for Lumineers for ages. Now that I’ve finally got the money, my dentist doesn’t want to place them. He said Lumineers will make my smile look bulky. I picked those because he won’t have to grind my teeth down and now he wants to grind my teeth. Should I let him or go to a different dentist who’ll do what I want?


Dear Marcy,

An advertisement for Lumineers

The thing Lumineers is best at is marketing. They’ve pushed their no-prep line so far that patients are afraid to have another brand of porcelain veneers. Truthfully, all Lumineers are is a brand. They’re not even the best brand.

While some patients look fine without any tooth preparation at all, most end up with a bulky looking smile. Some have described it as having horse teeth. That’s probably not the look you’re going for.

The type of tooth preparation needed for porcelain veneers doesn’t actually grind down your teeth. That’s only necessary for porcelain crowns. Because porcelain crowns cover your entire tooth, including the back and sides, a large amount of tooth structure has to be removed to make room for it.

Porcelain veneers are different. They are very thin and only go on the front of your tooth. For those who need tooth preparation, the dentist only needs to remove only about the depth of a fingernail. You can’t even tell that much has been removed.

Getting a Gorgeous Smile Makeover with Lumineers

Not many expert cosmetic dentists like the Lumineers brand. A lot of that has more to do with the company’s insistence that dentists use their lab. Their lab doesn’t have the best track record for creating gorgeous results.

You don’t want it to look like you’ve got veneers on. You want it to look like you have a naturally gorgeous smile. Because your dentist is warning you that you’ll end up with bulky results, I would say he’s trying to look out for you and give you the best smile possible.

You can insist he give you the Lumineers, sans tooth prep. He may relent and do it. But, I think you’ll regret that decision in the end.

Why don’t you try this? Tell him to go ahead with the brand of porcelain veneers he wants, but you want to see them on with a try-in paste before he permanently bonds them. If you don’t like them, then he has to do the brand you want.

He’ll probably be more willing to do that.

Also, remember, you don’t have to have them placed on your upper and lower arches. Make sure you just whiten the lower arch to match the color of the upper arch. That saves patients a ton of money.

This blog is brought to you by Drs. Kevin and Hillary Peck.

Can a Pediatric Dentist Whiten My Son’s Tooth?

I don’t know what is going on with my son’s teeth. His top two teeth are turning dark. The rest of them are okay. Can a pediatric dentist whiten them?


Dear Laura,

A child holding a teddy bear at the pediatric dentists office

If just his front teeth are turning dark and not the others, it’s not a staining issue. Is it possible your son has suffered some trauma to those teeth recently? Could he have been hit in the mouth with something?

When a tooth is turning dark it means the tooth is either dead or dying. He’ll need a root canal treatment. You didn’t mention how old he is so depending on his age a pulpotomy might be more appropriate. It’s like a root canal for children.

You’ll need to see your pediatric dentist and have his tooth evaluated. It’s important to figure out if there’s any other damage. If he still has adult teeth underneath you’ll need to make sure they aren’t damaged as well.

Teeth Whitening and Pediatrics

Professional teeth whitening only works on natural tooth structure that has been stained. It doesn’t work on dead teeth. It also won’t work on any dental work that’s been done, such as fillings or crowns.

Most children don’t need any whitening because regular brushing keeps their teeth white. It’s us old folks who’ve accumulated years of stains on their teeth from things like coffee or tea, cigarettes, staining foods, etc.

There are some medicines which can stain teeth. Tetracycline is the worst of these. In those cases, then some cosmetic work may be warranted.

I’m assuming you’re son is under the regular care of a pediatric or family dentist. Please don’t put off getting this looked at. The last thing you want is for this to turn into a dental emergency. Not only are they dangerous and can turn life-threatening, but it’s important children have positive dental experiences. We want pleasant instead of painful memories of their dental care.

This blog is brought to you by Drs. Kevin and Hillary Peck.

Pediatric Sealants Aren’t Working

I don’t know what’s going on. My dentist insists my son’s sealants are on, but I don’t think they’re working. My son’s teeth look horrible. Will the sealants keep whitening from working? His teeth look so brown to me. He brushes. I’ve even started watching him to check, which really annoys him.


Dear Kathy,

Four children one behind another smiling

I wanted to go over dental sealants with you because there seems to be a miscommunication somewhere either between you and your pediatric dentist, or possibly I’m not understanding what you’ve written. Sealants are meant to go on children’s back molars. Those have deep grooves in them which are nearly impossible for them to get clean. Because of that, we’ll place sealants on them which keep things from getting down in there. They don’t cover their front teeth in any way.

The makeup of baby and adult teeth are slightly different. With baby teeth, the enamel over the dentin is not translucent which makes their teeth look brighter and whiter. Adult teeth are very translucent which can show more of the dentin underneath. That has a yellowish color. If your comparing the color of his adult teeth to his baby teeth, the newer teeth will look less attractive in comparison.

When Children’s Teeth Look Dark

Children’s bodies and dental health are as varied as their personalities. It sounds like you’ve been monitoring his brushing and he’s doing that fine. Have you noticed if he intakes and staining beverages or foods? While most children don’t drink coffee, I’m often surprised how many of them drink iced tea. That can make someone’s smile brown looking quickly.

There are also certain spices which stain your teeth as well. If you’ve checked all these obvious culprits, the next thing to do is look into medication he may be (or have) taken. For instance, certain vitamins and antibiotics stain teeth. Tetracycline stains are some of the worst teeth stains to deal with. Not even teeth whitening makes much headway with them.

Another possibility is that your son has thin enamel, which will reveal more of the dentin. There are steps that can be taken to help that. Have a good talk with your pediatric dentist to get to the bottom of his coloring. If he or she doesn’t know what to do, try a cosmetic dentist that enjoys treating children.

This blog is brought to you by Drs. Kevin and Hillary Peck.

What Kind of Dentist Does Teeth Whitening?

I keep hearing you need a cosmetic dentist for that type of work. Does that include teeth whitening? I have a family dentist and he says he does whitening. Is it safe to use him?


Dear Bruce,

A woman and her dentist smiling
Do You Need a Cosmetic Dentist for Teeth Whitening?

First, I want to make sure you know there isn’t a recognized specialty in cosmetic dentistry by the American Dental Association. Dentists who call themselves cosmetic dentists, are really just general dentists who do cosmetic procedures in their practice in addition to their general dentistry.

That being said, some dentists have invested much more time and energy in developing expertise in the field of cosmetics. So, for some procedures, like porcelain veneers, you will want a dentist who’s invested in training and has experience placing them. Also look at their smile gallery to see if you like the type of results they get.

Does Teeth Whitening Require a Cosmetic Dentist?

Teeth Whitening is a completely different story. Any general dentist can do it. It doesn’t take artistry, but rather general dental skills. When it comes to whitening your teeth, the role of the dentist is to provide custom fit trays for you to use the whitening gel, as well as monitor the patient’s oral health during the process.

There are always things which can go wrong, such as gum sensitivity, issues with decay, etc. That’s where his skills as a dentist, much more than a cosmetic dentist, are what you need.

I hope this helps answer your question. Most patients love teeth whitening and the results they get from it. One word or warning. If you have dental work, such as fillings or porcelain crowns, the whitening gel only works on natural tooth structure. That doesn’t mean you still can’t get your teeth whitened. It just means that (if they’re in a visible part of your smile) you’ll want to replace them after your whitening procedure so your smile will match.

This blog is brought to you by Drs. Kevin and Hillary Peck.

Do Dentists Ever Offer Affordable Porcelain Veneers?

Can you help a gal out? I’ve always been embarrassed about my smile. The two front teeth overlap one another, they’re stained, and two of them are chipped. I’ve been pricing porcelain veneers because I’ve been told they can fix all of those issues at once, but they cost a fortune. Are there dentists who will offer a desperate gal an affordable smile makeover?

Mindy L.

Dollar sign hatched from an egg

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “You get what you pay for.” While it’s not always true, there are certain occasions where it bears more weight. Smile makeovers, especially with porcelain veneers, are one of them. The last thing you want is a slipshod smile. There have been countless smile makeover disasters and I don’t want yours to be one of them.

With that in mind, I want you to ask yourself if it’s more important to you that you improve your smile affordably or to get porcelain veneers affordably? Based on the issues you described, there is a much more affordable way to repair and improve your smile without the high cost of porcelain veneers.

Getting an Affordable Smile Makeover

While veneers are designed for a complete smile makeover, you can get a gorgeous smile without them. Here are three procedures I’m going to recommend to you that combined will still be more affordable for you than what you’re asking for.

  • Invisalign: This straightens your teeth without wire and metal, invisibly. No one will even know you’re wearing them.
  • Teeth whitening: This will take away all the stains that are bothering you. In fact, this alone makes patients look years younger.
  • Dental bonding: Those few chips you mentioned can be easily repaired with dental bonding.

One important thing to note. Make sure you get the teeth whitening done before getting the bonding placed on the chips. You want the bonding material to match your whiter teeth, not your current stained teeth. Also, any visible fillings you have will need to be replaced to match your whitened teeth as well.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kevin Peck.