Crowns to Replace Tooth Bonding?

Dear Dr. Hall,

I have bonded teeth (about 20 years old). The bonding has yellowed. My current dentist says that new bonding material is amber colored and won’t really be any whiter. He had suggested whitening the natural teeth, removing the bonding and starting over. Now he says that the amber colored bonding won’t make much of a difference and I should pay for four porcelain crowns. I don’t understand about the bonding. Can’t it be made whiter after bleaching the surrounding teeth? Thanks for any reply.

—Michelle in Georgia.


While bonding tends to yellow with age, new bonding can be as white as you want. I would either do new bonding or porcelain veneers. My guess is that your dentist doesn’t feel comfortable with either of those techniques, and so is suggesting the only thing he knows how to do—porcelain crowns. But that would mean having your four front teeth ground down quite drastically. I wouldn’t do that.

Tooth bonding material, unlike porcelain, absorbs stain a little bit. With good care, and by avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol, smoking, coffee, and other substances that can cause staining or deterioration, it can remain bright white for a number of years. But eventually, it may turn yellowish.

However, tooth bonding is a difficult procedure to do well. It really requires an expert cosmetic dentist to make it look beautiful. Also, general dentists often don’t have the stain-resistant tooth bonding materials in their offices.

Your dentist may very well be uncomfortable with tooth bonding techniques and would much rather do porcelain crowns. Doing tooth bonding well requires extensive knowledge of color, translucency, and cosmetic dentistry materials. Additionally, since bonding is sculpted free-hand by the dentist, it requires some artistic ability. Crowns, however, would require grinding your front teeth down to pegs—do you really want that?

If you want your bonding re-done so it looks beautiful, bright, and white, I recommend that you go to an expert cosmetic dentist, such as we have listed on this site.

Another option for you that would be even more beautiful and would last much longer than tooth bonding would be porcelain veneers. An expert cosmetic dentist would help you know what would be best for your situation.

The nice thing is that since you’re replacing old, deteriorated dental work, if you have dental insurance that usually makes your insurance company responsible for part of the cost. But you need to use a dentist who knows what he or she is doing.

Good luck,

—Dr. David Hall

Related topics:

Read about the other cosmetic dentistry mistakes.
Click here for referral to an expert cosmetic dentist.
Click here to ask Dr. Hall a question.