I have been to my dentist regarding eight of my slightly discoloured front upper teeth, and he has recommended composite bonding for those upper eight teeth – cost is £2,400. A year ago I tripped over a pavement curb and broke the bottom half of my right upper front tooth. My dentist did a good job in making it a whole tooth again – albeit I have an unsightly gap there which wasn’t there before. However, that tooth he worked on (presumably done with composite bonding) stands out like a sore thumb, as it has now discoloured more than all my other teeth.
Veneers are awfully expensive when going through your dentist, but I’ve seen veneers you can buy online without seeing a dentist for around about £700 for the full upper teeth – not too sure how these will fit on my full upper teeth though. Be nice to hear a comment on the above?
– John Van der Mark from the UK
(See Dr. Hall’s answer below.)
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First, my short answer is to no way get the composite bonding. Read through the emails I’ve received about cosmetic dentistry horror stories. There are 19 posted on the main website, and an additional 39 horror stories posted on the blog. If you read through those, you’ll see many of them felt that their teeth looked better before any work was done. In the United States, only 1-2% of dentists are capable of doing beautiful cosmetic dentistry. In the UK, I believe that is an even lower percentage. And from the cheap price your dentist is asking, I can’t imagine that a quality job is being offered.
On top of this, composite veneers are the most demanding procedure done by a cosmetic dentist. This is the hardest part of the accreditation examination for the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, because it requires a great deal of artistic talent and manual dexterity to hand sculpt these veneers.
And finally, composite does not create the most durable surface. As you have discovered, it can look great when it is placed but in time it will attract stain, turning yellow or even brown. While most of the stains stay on the surface as it becomes roughened over time, some stains are actually absorbed into the material. If a proper, polishable composite is placed on the surface, and it is polished to a high shine, these veneers can look good for two or three years. Your front tooth looked good for much less time than that, possibly because of the choice of material your dentist made. Porcelain, on the other hand, is practically impervious to stain and retains its gloss for a lifetime, if properly cared for. If done well, a composite veneer should cost maybe half, maybe 3/4 what a porcelain veneer would cost. So which is more expensive, composite veneers that have to be replaced every two or three years, or porcelain veneers that may last 20 years? Get your calculator out—composite veneers are way more expensive.
I’ll take on the online veneers in my next blog post, Should I buy dental veneers online?.
– Dr. Hall
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About David A. Hall
Dr. David A. Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does advanced internet marketing for dentists.