Why Does a Dentist Need to Etch My Teeth for Bonding?

Flowable dental

I don’t want my enamel touched at all. My family dentist said she must etch my teeth for dental bonding. Is this something I can avoid if I see another dentist? Thanks, Melanie from Pompano Beach, FL


Thank you for contacting Dental Loft. We understand your concerns about preserving healthy tooth structure. Tooth etching for dental bonding is conservative.

Is Etching Required for Dental Bonding?

Etching your teeth is a necessary step of dental bonding. The etching is microscopic and roughens the enamel so the bonding will adhere to it. If a dentist does not etch your teeth, the risks include the following:

  • Decay can get between the cosmetic bonding and your teeth
  • The bonding will eventually fall off.
  • Your dentist will need to redo the bonding.

Repeating the bonding process is something you want to avoid; etching helps prevent it.

How Does a Dentist Etch Teeth for Bonding?

A dentist can etch teeth using the following:

  • A dental instrument
  • Phosphoric acid
  • A dental tool and phosphoric acid

Etching removes a microscopically thin layer of enamel yet roughens the enamel enough for successful bonding.

A skilled cosmetic dentist knows to etch teeth conservatively. Over-etching can demineralize tooth dentin (the layer beneath the enamel), reduce the strength of the dental bonding, and make it difficult for the bonding to adhere to the tooth.

How to Increase Your Confidence in Dental Bonding

You can increase your confidence in dental bonding by learning more about your dentist’s etching method. You can express your concerns and ask questions to learn more about the minimal about of enamel your dentist will remove before applying the bonding. If you still have reservations, consider receiving a second opinion from an experienced cosmetic dentist who will provide you with more information. Etching is an essential phase of the bonding process regardless of your chosen provider. You can decide which provider you trust to give you the most conservative treatment and long-lasting, natural-looking results.

Dallas, Texas, dentist Dr. Claudia Vargas sponsors this post. At Dental Loft, we use Bioclear flowable composite for beautiful bonding work.