Composite Bonding and Veneers: Everything You've Wanted to Know

POPSUGAR Photography | Tori Crowther
POPSUGAR Photography | Tori Crowther
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Composite bonding is the new trendy term when it comes to dentistry (yes, "trendy" and "dentistry" can be used in the same sentence these days) — and for good reason. The cosmetic procedure is an increasingly popular alternative to veneers because, while it also helps restore your teeth to impressive results, it's minimally invasive. Still, there's a lot to consider and learn about composite bonding before jumping into the dentist's chair.

I'd been considering getting the procedure for years, but up until then, the fear of the unknown stopped me from getting past an initial consultation stage. That was until I met Rhona Eskander, dentist, Pärla founder, and owner of the Chelsea Dental Clinic, who finally convinced me to go for it.

If you're considering composite bonding, you've come to the right place because we're going to break down everything you need to know about the teeth-repairing procedure.

How is Composite Bonding Different From Composite Veneers?

Both treatments can be used to close gaps, repair chips, and change the shape and size of teeth. But while they share those similarities, it's worth noting that composite bonding is different from composite veneers. The material used during the bonding procedure is a resin (called composite) that Dr. Eskander described as being almost like gel nail polish for the teeth, but that lasts a lot longer. Composite bonding (also known as edge bonding) is often used on just the edges of the teeth, whereas composite veneers coat the entire surface of the tooth. You and your dentist will determine which is best for you depending on your individual situation and desired outcome.

It's also important to note that composite veneers are different to porcelain veneers, which involves a thin piece of porcelain that is bonded to your tooth. This procedure is more invasive and requires more preparation. Again, your dentist will help you decide what is best for you.

What to Expect At a Composite Bonding Consultation

My first appointment at the Chelsea Dental Clinic was a consultation with Dr. Eskander where we discussed my dental history and main concerns. I have missing adult teeth that never grew in, which resulted in gaps in my front teeth, so I wanted to get that sorted. I also generally felt like my teeth were too small for my mouth. Finally, I wanted them to be a little whiter. She explained differences between composite bonding and composite veneers and discussed which options would be best for me.

The plan of action following my initial consultation was a hygienist appointment, at-home teeth whitening (using professional products), and composite veneers. I left my appointment feeling confident that I was in very safe hands with Dr. Eskander and her team, and best of all, incredibly excited to come back a few months later for the procedure.

Hygienist Appointment and Teeth Whitening

A few weeks later and prior to my bonding appointment, I had a hygienist appointment with Anna Middleton (otherwise known as the London Hygienist). But, this wasn't any old hygienist appointment: she used a Swiss technique called Guided Biofilm Therapy (GBT). This is more effective and a much more gentle and pleasant experience than a regular hygienist session. The appointment begins with an assessment from Middleton, followed by a coating of blue dye, which makes biofilm (a bacteria) visible. This clearly shows up any problematic areas that Middleton could point out to me (thankfully my teeth were in pretty good condition) and gives pointers on how I can brush and floss more effectively.

From there, Middleton used a combination of warm water, air, and fine powder from a special machine to gently remove stains and biofilm from the teeth. Finally, Middleton used the same machine with smaller brushes and attachments to get to the targeted areas of the teeth that need attention. My teeth looked visibly cleaner and much brighter immediately after treatment. Best of all, the procedure wasn't even uncomfortable, unlike a lot of traditional hygienist appointments.

When I admitted to not being great at flossing because I hate the feeling of it, Middleton was helpful rather than judgemental. She suggested the Waterpik Cordless Plus Water Flosser ($55), and it's completely changed my flossing game for the better.

During the same appointment, I was given my bespoke teeth-whitening mouth trays (which I was scanned for during my initial consultation appointment) and instructed on how to safely whiten my teeth at home over the course of two weeks.

What the Composite Veneers Procedure Looks Like

Now onto the bonding. My appointment lasted a total of one hour and 30 minutes to do composite veneers on my six front teeth. First Dr. Eskander isolated the teeth with a rubber sheet, called a rubber dam, before doing a shampoo of the teeth, which is called an etch. Next was the actual bonding, which was built up in different layers and placed directly onto my natural teeth (no filing or drilling beforehand), so that Dr. Eskander could fill in gaps and sculpt the teeth into natural shapes. This is completely painless, and Dr. Eskander and her team worked at a super fast pace, so it felt like it was over in a flash.

Once the actual bonding was complete, I had my gums lasered. I was given local anaesthetic and my gums were trimmed, which Dr. Eskander describes as a little like trimming your cuticles. This didn't hurt because of the anaesthetic, but I will admit, it didn't smell great. "This changes the gum proportions because your gums are also really, really important when it comes to the proportions of your teeth," she says. Then we were done! It sounds simple, but it definitely takes an incredibly skilled dentist to achieve these results so quickly and efficiently.

POPSUGAR Photography | Tori Crowther

What is the Composite Veneers Aftercare?

I was instructed not to use my front teeth to eat things that are too hard, as to be careful of chips. This might be an inconvenience to some people — especially those who are nail-biters and regularly using their teeth to tear into things — but for me, this wasn't a big deal as I try to be super careful with my teeth anyway. I came away from my appointment with a brand-new smile, with zero pain or downtime. My gums were a teeny bit sore, but they healed up in around three days.

When it comes to long-term maintenance, bonding requires more upkeep at home than porcelain veneers and needs to be looked after well. Composite is more prone to staining and chipping and requires polishing every six to 12 months. Composite veneers last anywhere from five to seven years — typically, the better you look after them, the longer they'll last.

Composite Bonding Results

After my smile transformation, a lot of people said to me, "If you hadn't told me you got the procedure, I wouldn't have noticed" — and for me, that's the sign of an excellent dentist. The results are barely noticeable to others but make a huge difference to me and my confidence, which is exactly what it's all about.