Dear Dr. Hall,
It is so nice of you to be willing to answer questions. I have a question about tooth bonding.
I had my front two teeth bonded because of discoloration back in 1985 when I was in junior high.
Since then, my gums have receded a bit, and food and wine would collect above where the tooth bonding was done on my front teeth, so I asked my dentist about if anything could be done–and of course he offered to take the old bonds off and put new ones on, saying that he could make my front two teeth whiter and look better.
I wish I hadn’t done it.
When my front two teeth were rebonded, one of them looked fine, but the other did NOT. It was NOT clearer and whiter. There were several places where there was discoloration (darker shading), toward the bottom and a mark along the side.
I went back in, and the dentist explained that one of the discolorations was from where the underlying tooth was showing through the tooth bonding. He had only put a thin layer of bonding on because this tooth was already sticking out farther than the other one and was crooked. The other discoloration running along the side of my tooth, he explained, was because there was a space between my two front teeth, and that was where my real tooth ended.
He wanted to make things right, so he then redid the bond.
Now, however, I still have a slightly shady line running along the right edge of my front left tooth, and he explained that this was from where my “real” tooth ended (because there was a space between my two front teeth). It is less noticeable than the discoloration on the first bond he did for me, but it is still there.
But my old bond was clear, that I had for … over 15 years … was clear!
So I am wondering if this dentist knows what he is doing? Must I live with a noticeable shadowy line running down the side of my front tooth? It is really not that noticeable, but it is definitely there.
He has offered to put more tooth bonding atop of this line and feather it out to see if that will look better, but I don’t know if I he knows what he is doing.
If you could enlighten me on this situation at all, I would appreciate it greatly. Thank you.
—Matthew in Pennsylvania
From what you have told me, it may well be that your dentist DOES know what he is doing. In working with these tooth bonding materials, the interplay of color, thickness, and translucency is very complex and may require trial and error even by some of the most experienced cosmetic dentists.
I would advise you to judge the tooth bonding results by how they look at conversational distance. Sometimes if you look at it too “up close,” you lose the effect that is created. The fact that your dentist appears to be sensitive to shape issues, etc., is an indication of his expertise.
So if this shadowy line is noticeable by people at conversational distances, I would address it. However, if it isn’t, I would question the wisdom of continuing to manipulate the tooth bonding materials and would tend to leave well enough alone.
I hope this is helpful.
Dr. David Hall