What is tooth bonding?

Most often, bonding is used for cosmetic purposes to improve the appearance of a discolored or chipped tooth. It also can be used to close spaces between teeth, to make teeth look longer or to change the shape or color of teeth. Sometimes, bonding also is used as a cosmetic alternative to amalgam fillings, or to protect a portion of the tooth’s root that has been exposed when gums recede.

Bonding is a composite resin filling placed in the back teeth as well as the front teeth. Composites are the solution for restoring decayed teeth, making cosmetic improvements and even changing the color of your teeth or the reshaping of teeth. Bonding will lighten any stains you may have, close up minor gaps and can be used to correct crooked teeth. Basically, bonding will cover any natural flaws applying a thin coating of a plastic material on the front surface of your teeth. After this, your cosmetic dentist will apply a bonding material and sculpt, color and shape it to provide a pleasing result. A high-intensity light then hardens the plastic, and the surface is finely polished.

How long does tooth bonding last?

While the traditional silver fillings last about seven years, these composites should last about seven to eleven years.

Who is a candidate for tooth bonding?

If you have close, small gaps between your front teeth, or if you have chipped or cracked teeth, you may be a candidate for bonding. Bonding is also used for patients who have discolored teeth, uneven teeth, gum recession or tooth decay. Bonding material is porous, so smokers will find that their bonding will yellow. If you think you are a candidate for bonding, discuss it with your dentist.

How is Tooth Bonding Accomplished?

Bonding is among the easiest and least expensive of cosmetic dental procedures. The composite resin used in bonding can be shaped and polished to match the surrounding teeth. A very mild etching solution is applied to your teeth to create very small crevices in the tooth’s enamel structure. These small crevices provide a slightly rough surface permitting a durable resin to bond materials to your teeth. The resin is then placed on your tooth and high-intensity light cures the resins onto your tooth’s surface – with each individual layer of resin hardening in just minutes. When the last coat has been applied to your tooth, the bonded material is then sculpted to fit your tooth and finely polished.

The resin comes in many shades so that we can match it to your natural teeth. Due to the layers involved, this procedure will take slightly longer than traditional silver fillings because multiple layers of the bonding material are applied. Typically bonding takes an hour to two hours depending on your particular case.

What is the Tooth Bonding Treatment

Your dentist will use a shade guide to select the composite resin color that will match the color of the tooth most closely.

Once your dentist has chosen the color, he or she will slightly abrade or etch the surface of the tooth to roughen it. The tooth will be coated lightly with a conditioning liquid, which helps the bonding material adhere.

When the tooth is prepared, your dentist will apply the tooth-colored, puttylike resin. The resin is molded and smoothed until it’s the proper shape. Then the material is hardened with an ultraviolet light or laser.

After the bonding material hardens, your dentist will further trim and shape it. Then he or she will polish the material until it matches the sheen of the rest of the tooth surface.

The procedure usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour. If you’re having more than one tooth done, you may need to schedule several visits.

Types of Tooth Bonding Procedures

There are two types of bonding. What type is indicated in your situation depends upon whether you have a small area or a larger area that requires correction.

For small corrections

These are one appointment fillings which are color-matched to the tooth and are bonded to the surface for added strength. These are most appropriate for small fillings and front fillings as they may not be as durable for large fillings.

For larger corrections

Dental lab-created tooth-colored fillings require two appointments and involve making a mold of your teeth and placing a temporary filling. A dental laboratory then creates a very durable filling to custom-fit the mold made from your teeth. These fillings are typically made of porcelain. The custom-fit filling is then bonded to your tooth on your return visit. This type is even more natural looking, more durable and more stain resistant.

How much does tooth bonding cost?

As with all procedures, prices vary depending on your location. The cost of dental bonding will also vary with the extent of the bonding process you need. Many dental insurance plans cover most of the cost of the bonding, particularly when it is done for structural reasons.

The average cost of cosmetic dental bonding ranges from $300 to $600 per tooth.

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Advantages & Disadvantages of Tooth Bonding

Advantages of dental bonding:

Esthetics is the big advantage over silver fillings. As silver does not stick to teeth, entirely healthy tooth structure is usually removed to keep a silver filling in place. Composites permit your cosmetic dentist to remove only the decayed area of your tooth. Unlike silver fillings, composite bonding expands just like your teeth and are much less likely to cause cracks in your tooth. Composites bond directly to the tooth providing support. Composites can be used to fill in cracks, chips and gaps – and will match the color of your other teeth.

Disadvantages of the dental bonding procedures:

Bonding with composites simply costs more in material and time.

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What are the side effects?

The composite resin used in bonding isn’t nearly as strong as a natural tooth. Biting your fingernails or chewing on ice or pens can chip the material. Bonding usually lasts several years before it needs to be repaired. How long it actually lasts depends on how much bonding was done and your oral habits.

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