The ugly side of composite bonding
Composite bonding is one of the most popular treatments you can read about on social media, especially on Instagram. The before and afters often look great and the idea of transforming your smile in just one visit is very tempting. Certainly, composite bonding has its advantages: it can usually be done in just one sitting, it generally does not require any tooth filing if the corrections are minor and it is comparatively affordable. But what are the downsides? If you are thinking of getting composite bonding in Mallorca, we are here to put a spotlight on the 5 drawbacks of composite bonding to help you make the best choice.
Unlike veneers and crowns made from zirconia or e.max, composite has a tendency to change colour overtime due to its porous structure. In fact composite is even more porous than natural enamel. Patients who drink a lot of wine, coffee and tea, as well as smokers, are especially prone to developing stains. If you are in this group of patients, composite bonding might not be the best option for you. Staining is one of the reasons why composite bonding is generally said to last only a few years.
2. Lower durability
A major drawback is the lower strength of the material compared to that of ceramics such as e.max and zirconia. While we offer a 5 year warranty on ceramic veneers and a 10 year warranty on crowns, composite bonding comes with only 1 year warranty because it is simply impossible to predict if and when the material will crack as this is dependent on the patients dietary habits. Eating hard foods such as nuts or toffee sweets, greatly increases the chances of the bonding cracking or breaking altogether. This is also why composite bonding is contraindicated for patients who clench their jaw or grind their teeth. The best option for those patients are zirconium crowns which offer the highest strength of all ceramic materials available in dentistry. This lower durability of composite bonding is yet another reason why it is generally said to last only a few years as opposed to crowns which can last even up to 30 years in some cases.
Many patients are drawn to the idea of composite bonding because they do not want to file down their teeth. While it is a great option for correction of minor issues such as gaps between the teeth or fixing breaks and chipped edges, problems start when patients wants to bond their entire teeth to whiten them on top of improving their shape. Composite bonding is done by adding a layer of composite material onto the tooth. Composite has a degree of translucency so in order to whiten a tooth, a considerable amount of the material must be layered to prevent the natural shade from peeking through. As you can imagine, this makes the tooth more bulky. This might not be a problem for someone with very small, fine teeth but those with already overly prominent teeth might not be happy with such increased bulkiness.
If you are worried about bulkiness but at the same time you are apprehended by the thought of ''filing'' your teeth, take a look at the photo below. Oftentimes, when patients talk about ''filing'' teeth in preparation for fitting veneers they imagine the tooth that is reduced to a needle. This is a misconception. For veneers, the dentist removes less than 1mm of tooth structure just to create room for the veneer. This is done for two reasons: 1. to prevent the veneers from looking bulky and 2. to increase adhesive strength between the tooth and the veneer to give durability. Of course, filing is not always necessary, for example in patients with fine teeth.
4. Less predictability
If you have not had veneers or crowns in our clinic you might not know that an important step in the process of designing them is the computer simulation: this is what makes our veneers and crowns bespoke and fully personalised. Our patients are always given given the final say in how they want their new teeth to look: be it their exact shape, length, style or colour. We can even send a photo of your favourite celebrity to the lab and ask the technicians to recreate the shape of their teeth. Once you approve a design, that design will be reproduced in the form of ceramic veneers or crowns. This important step is missing in composite bonding because it is done freehand by the dentist on the dental chair and not manufactured by a specialised machine directly from a digital project. Therefore, if you are someone who has a very specific idea in your mind of how you want your teeth to look, if you are a perfectionist, if you care about minute details, veneers or crowns are a better option for you.
5. Limited possibilities
Many patients choose to undergo cosmetic dental procedures to straighten misaligned teeth. The example below shows how teeth can be straightened using a combination of crowns and veneers. Composite bonding is limited in its ability to correct misalignment because its based purely on adding material onto natural teeth. Seriously crooked teeth if covered in a thick layer of composite will look bulky and can also affect occlusion leading to the patient not being able to bite down properly. This is why composite bonding is more often than not performed after prior orthodontic treatment to give patients the best possible result. For those who do not wish to go that way and are looking for a quick fix, crowns and veneers are the optimal option because the dentist will be able to contour the teeth which are crooked allowing for placement of crowns and veneers in line with each other, just like on the photo below.
Composite bonding is a great quick fix for some patients and it can give amazing results. However, not everyone is a good candidate for this treatment and it is our duty to inform patients about its drawbacks which include:
Tendency to stain and change colour over time
Lower durability and higher risk of cracking and breaking especially in patients who grind their teeth or clench their jaw
Risk of looking bulky and overly prominent
Less predictable results due to being done free-hand
Limited possibility to straighten crooked teeth
If you are still unsure which treatment would be best for you, visit us for a consultation.