Dental bonding is used both to make your teeth look whiter and to restore damaged, such as gaps, cracks, crooked teeth, and chips. It is a composite resin designed to look like natural teeth and fits over existing teeth. As you consider tooth bonding in conjunction with whitening, you have two options – you can either bond all your visible teeth and choose a shade of white you want, or you can whiten your natural teeth and get minor bonding work done to cover tooth imperfections. There are some things you need to know to help you decide which option is right for you. You should also have a plan in mind for how to maintain the desired whiteness once your dental work is completed.
1. Decide Between Option A and Option B
First, you need to decide which option to go with. The determining factor is typically the amount of dental work needed to be done. If you have a lot of restorative work needing to be done – a combination of crooked teeth, gaps, and dark stains, for example – then you should plan on bonding your full set of teeth. However, if you only have a couple of gaps or cracks to fill, you might choose to retain your natural teeth as much as possible. In this case, you'll need to decide how you are going to whiten your teeth. Will you use whitening strips, gels, laser, or something else?
2. Always Whiten Before Bonding
If you chose to reduce the bonding work and look into whitening options, you'll need to whiten before bonding. As with other restorative work (such as crowns and dentures), the bonding composite is matched to your existing tooth color. Plan some extra time to whiten your teeth. Get them to the shade you want and then schedule your appointment for dental bonding for at least 2 weeks after you complete your whitening procedure. That way, your teeth won't be sensitive from whitening but will match the bonding composite perfectly.
3. Expect Some Fading or Yellowing Over Time
Every dentist will tell you that whitening your teeth isn't a permanent procedure. It might last months or even years, but your teeth will eventually start to yellow again with age. The same is true for the composite materials used in dental bonding. Over time, you will probably notice a slight discoloration as the resin fades or yellows. Unlike natural teeth, however, bonded materials don't whiten with bleaches and other whitening agents.
4. Avoid Stain-Inducing Habits
While your teeth – natural and bonded – might start to yellow, you can prevent noticeable stains by adjusting your daily habits. The main tooth-staining products are coffee, tobacco, and red wine. Avoid daily consumption of any of these substances (you don't have to eliminate them completely, just use them in moderation so you don't get dark stains). In addition to eliminating some things from your daily routine, make sure you brush and floss regularly to prevent other forms of buildup and stains. With a few minor adjustments, you should be able to keep your teeth in good, white condition for the lifespan of the bonding. When it's time to replace the resin (roughly every 10 years), you can re-whiten your teeth to their desired shade.
Dental bonding is an option for getting whiter, more even looking teeth. However, you don't have to bond your full set of teeth to get pearly whites. If you want to make minor adjustments to your visual appearance, you can choose to preserve as much of your natural teeth as possible by whitening first and bonding second. Whichever option you choose, remember that it takes daily care to maintain your white teeth.