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Dental negligence claims for cosmetic bonding

What is cosmetic bonding?

Cosmetic bonding is a simple way to improve your smile without the need for drilling. It involves the use of a tooth-coloured composite filling material that sticks to your teeth and can be used to repair chipped teeth as well as improving the shape and shade of your teeth. If you have any damaged or discoloured teeth, cosmetic bonding may be an alternative solution to improve oral health and the appearance of your smile.

 

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When might cosmetic bonding be required?

Cosmetic bonding is a simple and effective way to help improve your smile after a chipped tooth, or if you simply aren’t happy with the shape or colour of your teeth. There’s no drilling involved, and the treatment is reversible too, so if you’re unhappy with the outcome, your dentist can remove the composite filling.

Cosmetic Bonding Procedure

If you have any concerns regarding the shape and/or colour of your front teeth, your dentist will discuss the treatment options available to you. If they think you are suitable for tooth shaping or shade correcting through cosmetic bonding, they should talk you through the pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision as to whether or not to go ahead. If you do proceed with the treatment, the process usually involves several stages:

Anaesthetic

The procedure may not need any form of anaesthetic as there is no drilling involved. Sometimes, however, your dentist will numb the area to avoid sensitivity from the various materials used during the treatment.

Shade(s) and Translucency

Your dentist will choose the shade(s) and translucency of composite required to achieve the desired look. There are a multitude of composite systems on the dental market and choosing the correct shade and opacity of materials can be time consuming for even a simple case. However, this stage is crucial to ensure the best aesthetic outcome and improve your smile.

Isolation

They will then isolate the teeth/tooth to be treated by using either cotton rolls or a rubber sheet (known as a rubber dam). This ensures that the treatment area remains dry and uncontaminated as that may reduce the effectiveness of the bond between the composite and your tooth.

Acid-etch Gel

The tooth enamel is then treated with an acid-etch gel (usually containing phosphoric acid) which ‘roughens’ the tooth surface to help the composite material to bond well with the tooth.

Applying Composite Gel

The composite material is then added to the tooth in very small increments, with each layer being set hard using a UV light. This process is repeated until the final desired tooth shape has been achieved. The composite will then be polished until the surface is smooth and glossy. The final restoration should be almost (if not entirely) identical to your natural teeth, improving your look and the appearance of your smile.

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How long do smile makeovers last?

Cosmetic Bonding can last up to 5 years, but it may need to be replaced sooner if staining becomes an issue. You can ensure that you get the most out of your composite bonding by looking after your teeth and avoiding substances which can potentially crack the composite filling.

Common Risks of Cosmetic Bonding

As with all cosmetic dentistry, there are some associated risks. In relation to cosmetic bonding, these include:

Failed Bond

The composite filling may fall off or chip. This is, however, less likely if the tooth was isolated and prepared correctly before placement of the composite.

Staining

Aesthetic composite materials are susceptible to staining as well (especially those caused by tea, coffee, red wine or smoking), so they need frequent polishing to remove stains. You are also at a higher risk of staining if the composite material has not been polished to form a very smooth surface.

Incorrect shade, opacity or shaping

Another risk is that, if the incorrect shade or opacity is used by your dentist, the aesthetic outcome can be quite poor – particularly when only one tooth is being treated. Aesthetics are also dependent on the skill of the operator, particularly in cases involving tooth shaping.

Is cosmetic bonding suitable for everyone?

 

Your suitability for cosmetic bonding can only be decided once your dentist has completed a thorough assessment of your general oral health and the particular teeth in question. However, you are unlikely to be suitable if:

  • Your teeth are already heavily restored
  • If you have a lot of enamel missing (for example, due to large fractures)
  • If you have an untreated tooth grinding or clenching habit.
  • Bonding will not usually be able to mask deep discolouration completely

Cosmetic bonding can be an excellent option to treat small chips or fractures in your front teeth. This form of cosmetic dental treatment can be useful to treat minor discolouration, to reshape your front teeth and to correct small gaps between your front teeth (known as diastemas). These can all be treated without having to drill your teeth at all.

 

What you should ask your dentist before agreeing to cosmetic bonding

 

Although all dentists can provide cosmetic bonding, it relies upon excellent skill and manual dexterity to ensure the best aesthetic outcome.

Dentist’s Experience

You should therefore ask your dentist about his/her experience in cosmetic bonding and check that he/she has the specific materials required for the procedure. It is not acceptable to use the same material that is used for white fillings.

Risk of Staining

You should also ask about your specific risk of staining after treatment (based on your habits) and, therefore, how long you can expect the treatment to last. The cost implications should also be made clear to you.

Diagnostic wax-up

If you are planning on using cosmetic bonding to reshape your teeth and/or close gaps, you can ask your dentist to arrange a diagnostic wax-up. This is a wax model which mimics what your teeth will look like after treatment.

What can I claim for if something goes wrong with my cosmetic bonding?

 

Although composite bonding might seem like the right option for you, complications can occur as a result of a dentist’s negligence, in a small number of cases. If you experience any of the below, you may be entitled to make a claim for dental negligence if;

  • Bonding is placed on the incorrect tooth
  • Poor execution of the bonding results in the filling being chipped or falling off
  • The incorrect shade or colour is placed by your dentist
  • You have an allergic reaction to the materials used
  • You experience persistent pain following the composite bonding procedure

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