One of the best methods for treating minor dental concerns like chips and cracks is with dental bonding. Also referred to as tooth bonding or simply bonding, dental bonding involves the application of tooth-colored resin to repair damaged teeth. Whereas alternative restorations like dental veneers, crowns and implants are fabricated in a dental lab, bonding can be applied directly to the tooth/teeth inside the patient’s mouth.
Bonding also has the added benefit of being one of the most affordable dental treatments available, making it accessible to most patients.
Although dental bonding is a relatively simple and straightforward restorative or cosmetic solution for a variety of dental concerns, it’s not necessarily the best option for everyone. The best application for dental bonding includes:
- Fixing chipped/cracked teeth
- Improving the appearance of discolored teeth. (Teeth whitening is the most common treatment for discoloration, but for deep, stubborn, intrinsic stains an alternative like bonding or veneers may be needed.)
- Lengthening teeth for cosmetic purposes
- Closing small gaps between teeth
- Reshaping teeth to improve smile aesthetics
Dental bonding may also be considered as an alternative to traditional, silver-colored amalgam dental fillings.
One of the most important aspects of composite bonding is making sure that it matches the natural color of the tooth. Your dentist will use a basic shade guide to get a color match for the composite resin. A gentle acidic solution is then applied to the tooth being treated. This process of acid etching helps to abrade the surface of the tooth, making it easier for the resin to attach cleanly.
The composite is applied in a putty-like form, then shaped and smoothed until your dentist achieves the desired look. A curing light is then used to harden the resin and complete the bond. Once hardened, your dentist may continue to shape the resin to elicit the optimal aesthetic result.
The entire procedure can be performed in under an hour per tooth, with results visible immediately after treatment. Your dentist will likely advise you to avoid certain food and drink that may stain the resin for a period of one or two days. (Coffee, tea, red wine, etc. can all stain the teeth and should be avoided after bonding.) If you are a cigarette smoker, you should similarly avoid smoking for the same period.
Your doctor will advise you about the best way to manage your bonding aftercare.
Although bonding is an affordable solution to a number of dental concerns, one of the cons is that it’s not quite as durable as porcelain restorations. The composite is more susceptible to chips and cracks, meaning you need to be careful in your dietary choices (avoiding hard, crunchy foods if possible) and should consider wearing a mouthguard if you participate in sports that could risk trauma to your teeth, or are prone to grinding.
The composite material is prone to staining as well, so be wary about the amount of coffee, tea, red wine (etc.) that you consume, and/or consider using a straw to safeguard your teeth. Smokers also face additional issues with staining and should consider quitting to safeguard their composite bonded tooth/teeth.
Your dentist will advise you of the best way to care for your revitalized smile after treatment. Be sure to follow his/her advice to get the most out of your treatment.
The cost of dental bonding can vary significantly based on a variety of factors, chief among which is the number of teeth being treated, and the amount of bonding required. On average, the cost of bonding can be upwards of $600 per tooth.
The good news is that dental insurance often covers a significant portion of the cost of bonding; particularly if bonding is part of a dental filling. If bonding is cosmetic, such as with composite veneers, coverage may be minimal. However most dental practices offer some type of third-party financing option should you need assistance.
To get a sense of what dental bonding is going to cost you, schedule a consultation with a qualified dentist to discuss your goals and options.