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Weird crown situation, what would you do? Need advice urgently from people with crowns



Well-known member
Jul 9, 2022
I am having a strange experience with a crown, that I don't think is normal. I was wondering if other people who have had crowns could read my description of what happened, tell me if they think this was normal, and if not, what is going on here, and let me know what they would do in my case. I am in the USA.

When l was heading out the door of my dentists office after the impression was made for a crown the receptionist called me back and said the dental assistant wanted me to go in person for a “custom shade” to the crown maker. There has never been any discussion of the color of the crown with me by the dentist, assistants, or hygeinists. So l went to the crown maker. When l got there the crown maker just had a patient leave his room and left his room himself and went to the back. I went quickly to the bathroom, so could have missed it if it was really fast but didn’t see anyone enter the room to clean it. When l came back, after a while the crown maker came back too and went to his room. He called me in after a few minutes. I could see into the room the whole time and didn't see him wipe anything down or anything like that. When I went in the crown maker picked up a small device of colored tiles from his work surface, put it in my mouth, took it out, took off one tile, and took a picture of that in my mouth with a large camera, then took out the tile. I can’t believe this camera was being disinfected between patients, with his hands going from inside people's mouths to the camera, and l don’t think the cluttered work surface was either, though I don't know. I think l swapped saliva with a lot of people. I am not sure. I am disgusted and angry and feel like I don’t want my crown anymore. However I feel like I could be wrong and some kind of cleaning went on very quickly that I missed, or I am missing something that would have made things more hygenic than they look. I am mad too no one talked to me about color at all and now l can’t whiten my teeth. If someone had talked to me about color l would have asked to go lighter. A decision was made for me to have this "custom shade" match with no discussion with me, and I went along with it without realizing what was going on until too late. The crown is supposed to be installed next week on my dental implant as the last stage of 9 months of treatment.

My questions for people who have had crowns.
1. How was color of your crown dealt with, does what happened to me seem normal to you?
2.Would you bring up what happened at the crown maker to the dentist? Do you think there is any point to doing that?
3. Would you bring up that you would have preferred a lighter color, not a match? If so, would you bring up that no one discussed it with you?
4. Do you have any other advice for me in handling this situation?

Many many thanks to anyone who can share their experience or offer me any advice.

1. In the UK the normal way would be for the dentist to pick the shade together with you. If the practice had an in-house lab (very rare over here), then yes, the technician (i.e. "crown maker") would be the best person to do the colour match. Coming to think of it, it wouldn't be unheard of in the UK to visit the dental technician if the lab was close by for restorations that require a perfect colour match, e.g. a front tooth. So if your dental office has an in-house lab, then certainly seeing the technician directly would be the best choice.

2. You should be able to approach your dentist with any concerns you may have regarding hygiene standards. Whether there is any point to doing that would depend on whether hygiene standards have been breached and whether the dentist is aware of what is going on. Can't really comment!

3. It should have been brought up if you had mentioned during previous appointments that you were unhappy with the colour of your natural teeth. If there had never been any discussion about aesthetic concerns before, then there would have been no reason for the dentist to assume that you wanted to have them bleached. Also, bleaching is an ongoing commitment, as it needs to be redone every once in a while. Depending on whereabouts in the world you live, it could be seen as a bit rude to ask out of nowhere if you wanted to get your teeth whitened. But I suppose if you lived somewhere where youthful looks are a big thing, maybe the dentist should have brought it up, even at the risk of embarrassing you? It's a difficult one! If you think that people in your area by and large would want to be warned about this, then go ahead and let your dentist know :) .

4. Maybe you could speak to or email the technician directly, outlining your concerns about cross-contamination. They may be able to put your mind at rest. For example, he may not even have used the camera with the previous patient.

I have no idea what the cross-contamination requirements are for dental labs in the US, but I would have thought that like dentists, they would don a fresh pair of gloves before each patient contact?
Thanks so much for the reply! It is very useful. Especially part 3. I appreciate your point, stained teeth, or teeth color, is a sensitive subject and I think that is part of what caused this situation. You have really helped me get some perspective on this.

To clarify, the crown maker/lab/technician was a different business, in another town. My crown is for a molar. I asked the crown maker why I was sent there in person and they told me it was because the dentist could not match the shade. No one at the dentist even talked to me about color though. I am not sure hygiene standards were breached at the crown maker/lab but was very suspicious. I know I am very paranoid about this because I had a previous experience with a dentist who picked up a phone and then put her hand directly into my mouth without changing gloves. I don't know if the camera was used with another patient, though I think they would take a picture of the sample in everyone's mouth if they did it with me. Though the technician/crown maker did put on a fresh set of gloves, I didn't see them wipe down the work surface or anything between me and the previous person, and they seemed to be picking up things to put in my mouth and putting down things to put in my mouth from that surface. The camera didn't seem like something that really could be disinfected and they touched it with their gloved hands after having them in my mouth, and then had their hand in my mouth again. So I feel like a lot of people's saliva would be on the camera if they did things with everyone the way they do with me, and they aren't cleaning the camera. But I don't know anything and can't be sure of anything. I also know my previous experience with the dentist and her phone may be causing me to be paranoid and overly upset here. Probably not worth mentioning to the dentist since I am unsure that anything happened and know that I am paranoid and maybe having issues from my previous traumatic experience.

The dentist and me are from different cultures, the dentist is from a common local cultural group that a lot of people here belong to. Some women from the dentist's culture are very appearance minded and it would be normal for them to whiten their teeth or have cosmetic dentistry, but not for anyone else out here in this rural area, and he knows I am not from that culture, and I have afraid to bring up the color issue previously. I have very unusual stained teeth, in fact the dentist has thought I smoke but I don't, and the hygienist also commented that she wondered how my teeth had gotten so stained. A lot of people around here are from a culture that doesn't drink tea or coffee or smoke but I have drank tea and coffee since I was a young child and am an ex smoker, so I start to feel I am looking much worse than all these people who haven't done those things and have whiter teeth, which makes me want to do something about it. But you are right, there is no way he could have known that I had teeth whitening in mind and it could have seemed rude to bring it up. This isn't the first time I have harmed myself this way, I got a dental implant which made it a lot harder and impracticle to treat my orthodontic problems, and though I kind of thought that would happen, I was afraid to bring up to the dentist that I wanted to treat my orthodontic problems until after the implant was in place. Just my own failing due to my anxiety and fear.

@letsconnect Thanks again for helping me to get some calm outside perspective. The only other person I have to talk to is my husband who has completely lost patience with my issues over dental stuff, so that any conversation I have with him involves him being angry about me talking about it, since he is so tired of it. I am so grateful to have your talk to me about this when I have no one to turn to.

Anyone who has read this far, please note what I say. If you are considering a future treatment of any kind, please try and force yourself to bring it up to your dentist even if you feel afraid. I am building up quite a bit of regret from not doing that, and have now lost the option to have two treatments that I wanted.
Hey NervousUSA, there is not much that can be add to @letsconnect answer and I'm glad you got some new perspective. Maybe one thing that haven't been mentioned: for bleaching, it's always only the front teeth up to premolars that get bleached, never molars. If the crown is a molar, it therefore won't be a problem with bleaching.
@Enarete Thanks. Unfortunately I think that it is different for me. I am congenitally missing one set of my premolars, and I retained baby molars in their place, so this is in the place of a premolar and further forward than molars would be in most people, so it shows when I smile. The crown is a fake retained baby molar in the position of a premolar. I suspect the position of this thing may be why so much fuss may have been made to get a color match, unfortunately to a color I want to change.
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