Composite bonding gone wrong

Dental bonding can instantly fix chips, gaps, stains, and uneven teeth. But in inexperienced hands, bonding procedures can go awry.

The skill and experience of the dentist performing tooth bonding procedures has a big impact on results. While bonding mistakes can leave smile flaws, the material is luckily easy to repair or replace when needed.

But choosing an esthetic dentist attentive to detail helps avoid many issues from the start.

Here are some problems that may arise with composite tooth bonding:

Composite bonding gone wrong

Who is a Good Candidates for Dental Bonding?

The ideal bonding candidate has healthy teeth and reasonable aesthetic goals, as bonding has limits in terms of color change, alignment, and durability compared to other smile makeover options.

An initial consultation helps determine if you are suitable for direct composite restorations based on your needs and concerns.

Generally, the ideal candidates include:

  • Those with minor cosmetic flaws like small chips, cracks, gaps, or discoloration in their teeth that want a quick fix. Bonding provides a conservative improvement.
  • Patients who have mildly crooked or uneven teeth that do not require full orthodontic treatment. Bonding can align and contour teeth for a straighter appearance.
  • People who have discolored fillings they want to blend better with their natural teeth. Bonding can cover and match surrounding tooth color.
  • Individuals who have fractured or decayed teeth but there is not enough tooth structure remaining to support a crown or veneer. Bonding builds up the tooth surface.
  • Those with superficial intrinsic stains who want a brighter smile without more invasive whitening or veneers. Bonding masks discoloration.
  • Patients looking for an affordable cosmetic solution compared to more costly veneers or crowns. Bonding provides quality results on a budget.

Tooth Bonding Process

Here are the typical steps involved in getting composite dental bonding:


The dentist will assess your concerns and goals for bonding, examine your teeth, and develop a treatment plan.


The tooth surface will be cleaned, isolated from moisture, and potentially etched to improve bonding adhesion.

Applying bonding material

The dentist selects a composite resin in a shade matched to your teeth. The putty-like material is pressed onto the tooth and sculpted into shape.

Curing the bonding

A special curing light is used to harden and set the resin material. This may be done in layers to build up dimensionality.


Once cured, the bonding is carefully polished using abrasive strips and polishing paste to create a smooth glossy finish.

Evaluating the bite

The dentist will have you bite down to ensure proper functioning and make any adjustments.


Generally no follow-up is needed unless problems arise. Routine dental visits every 6 months are still recommended.

Composite bonding problems to watch out for

Composite bonding is a common cosmetic dental procedure, but like any dental treatment, it’s essential to be aware of potential issues that can affect the final result:

1. Poor Shade Matching

One of the most common mistakes in composite bonding is poor shade matching. When the resin used is too white, opaque, or doesn’t match the color of the surrounding teeth, it can result in a restoration that looks artificial and out of place. To avoid this problem, dentists should take the time to carefully select the right shade of composite resin that blends seamlessly with the patient’s natural teeth.

2. Over-Contouring Bonding Material

Over-contouring the bonding material can lead to an unsightly bulge or irregular shape on the tooth. Dentists should have a keen eye for detail and sculpt the bonding material precisely to achieve a natural and aesthetically pleasing result. This requires both skill and patience during the bonding process.

3. Inadequate Curing and Polishing

Proper curing (hardening) of the composite material is crucial for its longevity and resistance to staining and yellowing. Inadequate curing can result in premature deterioration of the bonding. Dentists should follow manufacturer-recommended curing times and techniques. Additionally, thorough polishing of the bonded area is essential to achieve a smooth surface that resists staining.

4. Skipping Tooth Isolation

Moisture contamination is a common issue that can compromise the bond between the composite material and the tooth. Skipping the step of isolating the tooth properly can lead to bond failure. Dentists should use rubber dams or other isolation techniques to ensure a dry working environment during the bonding procedure.

5. Aggressive Tooth Preparation

While some tooth preparation is necessary to create an ideal bonding surface, being too aggressive can result in the removal of excessive healthy enamel. This can weaken the tooth and lead to sensitivity. Dentists should strike a balance between adequate preparation and preserving as much natural tooth structure as possible.

6. Rushed Procedures

Rushing through the bonding procedure can result in uneven bonding and poor aesthetics. It’s essential for dentists to allocate enough time for each bonding case, ensuring that each step is performed meticulously. Attention to detail is crucial in achieving the best possible results.

Final Thoughts

Considering that composite bonding takes some artistic skill for optimal cosmetic results, it’s important to choose a dentist experienced with the procedure. Don’t hesitate to ask to see before and after photos of your dentist’s previous composite bonding patients.

After the treatment, be sure to maintain the bonding carefully with good oral hygiene practices. Let your dentist know if you experience any changes.


  • Editorial team

    A team comprising oral health care professionals, researchers, and professional Writers, striving to impart you with the knowledge to improve your oral health, and that of your loved ones. 

  • Lilly

    Lilly, aka, Liza Lee, is a passionate community oral health officer and our lead writer. She's not only well-versed in performing a multitude of dental procedures, including preventive, restorative, and cosmetic, but also an avid writer. Driven by the significant oral health burden all around her, Lilly strives to build capacity and promote oral health. She envisions making a lasting impact by advancing research, prevention, and promotion efforts to alleviate oral health disparities. Please share your views and opinions on my posts.

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