Dear Dr. Hall,
I chipped my two front teeth and had bonding done on them. Recently there was some discoloration of the bonding, so I asked my new dentist to fix the color. Things went downhill from there. There are multiple things wrong.
The color is wrong—the color is too white compared to the rest of my teeth. The bonding has a lot of texture, one tooth is longer than the other, and I now have a gap between the teeth. After she was done the dentist said that it’s not perfect but it’s better than before. But my only issue was a small discoloration. Now, when I looked in the mirror, I was like, “What the heck happened here?”
So I asked her to shave down the longer tooth to make it the same length as the other one. (I’m shocked that I even had to ask that!) The next thing was that the shorter tooth wasn’t straight across—it rose up in the middle, so I asked if she would just file it to make it straight. Then I asked her to fix the color a little bit a the top and she said that’s how normal teeth are with the different colors. Then I pointed out the large gap that wasn’t there before and she said yea with bonding it’s really hard to not have that. And then she said why don’t you see how you like it for a couple days then come back on Friday and I can go over whatever you don’t like. I have a good base to work with now. My question is should I let her try to fix it on Friday or just call her tomorrow and ask for refund. I feel bad because she is nice and all but this looks worse than it did when I went in. I’m very upset!
Michelle from Florida
I found your blog searching for bonding issues.
(See Dr. Hall’s answer below.)
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I wouldn’t hold out any hope that this dentist will get this right. The basic problem here is that dental schools don’t screen their applicants for artistic ability. They teach them the mechanics of how to fix teeth, but the schools aren’t designed to churn out dental artists. If this dentist can’t get this right, it’s time to make a separation and move on.
Dental bonding is the most artistic procedure that dentists do. They have a selection of materials of different colors, textures, and translucencies, and they have to put that all together to create a lifelike replica of tooth structure. A very small number of dentists are very good at this and can sculpt an entire tooth to look so real, no one can tell it’s dental bonding. A larger number of dentists can take on a small repair of a chipped front tooth and make it look pretty good. But it sounds like your dentist is on the far left of the bell curve and has trouble with very basic appearance-related dentistry.
There is also a difference in their approach to the patient between excellent cosmetic dentists and repair-oriented general dentists, and that is in their listening to the patient. An excellent cosmetic dentist will keep on a case until you, the patient, are happy with how it looks. Your dentist, however, is showing a tendency to be objecting to how you think this should look. When patients aren’t happy with the appearance, many of them will try to tell you that you just need some time to get used to it, rather than addressing your concerns. Listening to the patient is what drives the excellent cosmetic dentist to create beautiful work.
– 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.