Dental bonding is a dental procedure in which a dentist applies a tooth-colored resin material (a durable plastic material) and cures it with visible, blue light. This ultimately “bonds” the material to the tooth and improves the overall appearance of teeth. Tooth bonding techniques have various clinical applications including operative dentistry and preventive dentistry as well as cosmetic and pediatric dentistry, prosthodontics, and orthodontics.
What features of a smile can dental bonding fix?
- repair decayed teeth (composite resins are used to fill cavities)
- repair chipped or cracked teeth
- improve the appearance of discolored teeth
- close spaces between teeth
- make teeth look longer
- change the shape of teeth
- replace amalgam (ie, silver) fillings (ie, a cosmetic alternative)
- protect a portion of the tooth’s root that has been exposed when gums recede (ie, move toward the root of the tooth).
How is a tooth bonded?
- Preparing. Dental bonding does not require much advanced planning. In addition, anesthesia is often not needed unless bonding is used to fill a decayed tooth.
- Process. Your dentist will use a shade guide to select a composite resin — a durable plastic material — that closely matches the color of your tooth. The surface of the tooth is roughened and a conditioning liquid is applied. These steps help the bonding substance stick to the tooth. Then the tooth-colored, putty-like resin material is applied, molded, and smoothed to the desired shape on the tooth. Next, the resin is hardened with a special light, which “bonds” the material to the surface of the tooth. Finally, your dentist will trim, shape, and polish the bonded material to match the gloss of the rest of the tooth/teeth.
- Completion. The procedure takes about 30 to 60 minutes per tooth to complete.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of dental bonding?
Bonding is one of the easiest and least expensive cosmetic (“appearance-changing”) dental procedures. Veneers and crowns are other types of tooth coverings. However, these tooth coverings must be made in a dental lab. You would need to return to your dentist’s office to have these coverings put on your teeth. Bonding usually can be done in one office visit unless several teeth need to be fixed. Another advantage, compared with veneers and crowns, is that the least amount of tooth enamel is removed. (Enamel is the hard surface layer of your teeth.) Also, unless dental bonding is being used to fill a cavity, anesthesia is usually not required.
Although the material used in dental bonding is somewhat stain- resistant, it does not resist stains as well as crowns. Another disadvantage is that the bonding materials do not last as long or are as strong as other methods to restore teeth, such as crowns, veneers, or fillings. Also, bonding materials can chip and break off the tooth.
Some dentists view bonding as the best method for making small cosmetic changes, for making a temporary correction of cosmetic defects, and to correct teeth in areas of very low bite pressure (for example, front teeth).