Pros and cons of dental bonding vs. a crown to repair a broken front tooth

I have a half broken tooth on my front teeth. It broke when I was 6 years old. I am now 17 and I have decided to fix it. It’s just broken and there’s no complication. I have visited 2 dentists recently. The first one told me that I just need bonding for the half tooth (that will last for 9-10 yrs) and she won’t reduce my tooth; however the second one told me that I need porcelain veneers or a crown. The second one even told me that bonding doesn’t last sometimes for a year and the more I redo the bonding treatment again and again, the more my natural teeth would be reduced and it will eventually lead to root canal treatment. It scared me even though I wanted a bonding cause I don’t want to reduce my natural tooth. Is that true that if they bonded my tooth, I’ll lose more of my natural tooth cause they’ll reduce it when I a dentist would bond it for the second time?
- Rose from Manila, Philippines

Rose,
The dentist who is trying to scare you with eventually needing root canal treatment because you do the bonding sounds more like a car salesman than a dentist. And it sounds like for him or her business is slow. I’ve never heard of anyone who had bonding that was re-done and because of that needed root canal treatment. And actually, a porcelain crown on someone who is 17 years old would have a much higher risk of ending up needing root canal treatment than the dental bonding.

So you broke this tooth when you were 6 and that’s 11 years ago, and now you want it fixed. That sounds like a good move. You could go either way – the direct bonding or the crown. Or you could have a single porcelain veneer, though that is particularly hard to get matched perfectly and would probably cost the same as a crown. Here are the pros and cons:

The bonding is quicker and usually less expensive. It can be done in one appointment. The crown generally takes two appointments usually about two weeks apart.
Direct bonding requires artistic talent on the part of the dentist to look right. So many dentists shy away from doing it because of this, and the patient is advised to be cautious. You might want to ask to see before-and-after photographs of the dentist’s other bonding work before you proceed, and if there are no such photographs you might want to be suspicious.
Porcelain is more durable and stain-resistant.
If you have one porcelain crown on a front tooth, it is very important that it match exactly the other front tooth, or it will be fairly noticeable. Again, getting this to match just right requires artistic talent on the part of the dentist.
Direct bonding is safer. It usually requires very little removal of additional tooth structure, and if it doesn’t look right, it is fairly easy to have it re-done or to upgrade it to a porcelain veneer or a crown. However, once you have a crown on your front tooth, you are forever committed to having a crown.
As stated, the crown involves more risk that the pulp of the tooth will be irritated and the tooth will end up needing root canal treatment.
My personal recommendation would be to have the bonding re-done now and then, in three to five years when your tooth is more mature and there is less risk of irritating the pulp, save up your money, find an expert cosmetic dentist like Dr. Sadati who has the skill to match the crown to your teeth perfectly, and get a single porcelain crown.

I hope this is helpful.