Several months ago, I had my dentist perform dental bonding on my top front teeth, all four of them. This is something that I have had done every few years for the past couple of decades, so I suspect I have a fair amount of composite built up on these teeth. Now, I am noticing that these teeth look somewhat yellow. Since the bonding procedure was done only about 8 months ago, I wonder if this discoloration can be corrected by having them polished instead of completely redone. I would like to know your thoughts.
Dental bonding is a type of veneer process; a direct veneer. This is different than indirect porcelain veneers, which are harder and more resistant to staining than softer composite material. Because dental bonding is done with composite material, the longevity of results is much shorter.
There is good news though. It may be possible to polish stains from your dental bonding; it just depends on the type of staining that has occurred.
There are two types of stains that develop on composite. Surface stains may result from tiny abrasions in composite. If discoloration is only surface staining, polishing will most likely work to restore brightness by smoothing out those scratches and releasing the stains. That being said, the nature of composite, being a combination of glass or quartz in a plastic binding agent, enables it to absorb tiny molecules from foods and beverages. If your morning cup of coffee or tea has been absorbed into the composite, polishing is not likely to resolve discoloration because stains have actually become a part of the bonding. This type of staining typically takes years to become obvious.
Now let’s talk about maintaining your dental bonding.
There are a few simple ways that you can make sure your bonding remains in tip-top condition:
1. Have bonding done by an accredited cosmetic dentist. In our La Jolla practice, we maintain a large inventory of composite materials for dental bonding. Many of the composites stocked by general dentists lack the capability to be polished to look like a natural tooth.
2. Brush your teeth with a gentle toothpaste that does not contain abrasive particles. The wrong toothpaste will cause scratches on the surface that invite stains.
3. Make sure your hygienist knows that you have dental bonding. This way, only the finest abrasives will be used during your routine cleanings. Ask for a fine aluminum oxide polish.
4. Be mindful of what you are drinking. Use a straw when you can to avoid direct contact between your bonding and substances that could stain.
One last note. Since you have continued your bonding routine for as long as you have, perhaps you should consider having porcelain veneers made for these teeth. Porcelain resists stains better than composite, and even better than natural enamel. When done by an experienced cosmetic dentist, porcelain veneers can sustain their aesthetic value for 20 years. If you do choose to have porcelain veneers, it is best to consult with an accredited cosmetic dentist – this isn’t a job for your family dentist.
This blog is sponsored by La Jolla dentist Dr. Stephen Doan.