I had a regular tooth cleaning on Monday. A couple of years ago, I broke off one of my teeth in the middle of the night. Not sure how I did it, but I ended up with a crown. About six months ago, the doc was probing around during a cleaning and found that a large gap had opened up between the crowned tooth and the gums. This is usually a sign of early gum disease. They made to applications of antibiotic in the last six months, and the checkup on Monday showed great progress. The gap had closed back down to a healthy level, and they gave me a rubber pick to help massage the gums and get them back to full health. During the same visit, he noticed that one of my other teeth needed some work. I had veneers placed on two of my teeth when I was younger because they were so much smaller than my other teeth. The dental assistant called them pygmy teeth. The tooth I broke off was one of the teeth that had a veneer, and now the other veneer was showing some decay. At the top of the tooth near the gumline, you could see a thin grey line. The dentist said this was normal wear, and that veneers usually last between 5 and 15 years, depending on care. I think I've had mine for at least 15 years.
So this morning, I went back to the dentist and he cut off the old veneer and applied a new, temporary one. In two weeks I will get a new permanent veneer. During the whole process, I did some research on veneers. Although the dentist didn't mention it, I had three options for cosmetic repair to the tooth. The option that I have is the veneer, which is a porcelain shell that is cemented around the existing tooth. My current veneer work is going to run $831, and the websites I read said that the cost can run from $500-$1300 depending on which tooth needs the veneer and where you live. Another option is bonding, which is very inexpensive, but only lasts up to five years, and is meant for minor filling in of chips. Finally, I could have had the tooth ground down and a true crown installed. That would cost about the same, and last just as long, but the procedure is a lot more painful as it requires a root canal. I'll stick with the veneer.