What is dental bonding?
One of the best methods for treating minor dental concerns like chips and cracks is dental bonding. Also referred to as tooth bonding, or simply bonding, dental bonding involves the application of tooth-colored resin directly to the tooth to repair damage. Bonding is 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 may not be the best option for everyone. The best application for dental bonding includes: (1)
- Fixing chipped/cracked teeth
- Improving the appearance of discolored teeth that cannot be fixed by teeth whitening treatments
- Lengthening teeth for cosmetic purposes
- Closing small gaps between teeth
- Reshaping teeth to improve smile aesthetics
- Protecting part of the tooth’s root that has been exposed due to receding gums or cavities
Dental bonding is also an alternative to traditional, silver-colored amalgam dental fillings.
One of the most important aspects of composite bonding is ensuring that the bond matches the natural color of your tooth. Your dentist will use a basic shade guide to find a color match for the composite resin. Anesthesia is usually not required, unless the bonding is being used to fill a decayed tooth or cavity. Once the correct color of composite resin is chosen, your dentist will prepare your tooth by applying a gentle acidic solution called an etchant. The etchant makes the surface of your tooth rough so that the composite resin attaches cleanly onto it. The resin 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 and complete the bond.
When will I see results?
The entire procedure can be performed in under an hour per tooth, with results visible immediately after treatment. Your dentist will recommend you avoid certain food and drinks that may stain your teeth for a few days after the bond is placed. These include coffee, tea, red wine, etc. If you are a cigarette smoker, you should also avoid smoking during this period. (1)
Although bonding is an affordable solution to a number of dental concerns, one of the cons is that it is not quite as durable as porcelain restorations. Composite resin is more susceptible to chips and cracks, meaning you should avoid hard, crunchy foods when possible. Avoid chewing on hard objects as well, such as ice, pens, and your fingernails. You should also consider wearing a mouthguard when playing sports that could risk harm to your teeth, or if you grind your teeth as well. Composite resin may also stain, so be wary about the amount of coffee, tea, red wine, and other staining drinks; using a straw may help protect your teeth. Smokers also face additional issues with staining and should consider quitting to protect their composite-bonded tooth/teeth.
How long will dental bonding last?
If you take good care of your dental bonds, they can last between three to ten years before needing a touch up or replacement. Continue to practice good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing and visit your dentist annually to ensure the bond is still holding well.
Alternatives to dental bonding
Dental bonding offers a cheap and easy way to fix cracks and chips in teeth; however, there are more options that may be used as well. Dental Veneers – Veneers are ultra-thin shells made of composite resin or porcelain that are placed over the natural tooth. These are also designed to address chips and cracks, tooth discoloration, and spacing issues. Porcelain veneers resist staining better than composite resin bonding, look natural, and are long-lasting (between 10-15 years). Veneers are more expensive than dental bonds, ranging from $300-$1,500 per tooth for composite resin, and $900-$2,500 for porcelain. (2) Dental Crowns – If your teeth cannot be fixed using a dental bond, then dental caps & crowns may be the solution for you. These are used if you have a cavity that cannot be filled due to lack of remaining tooth structure, a weakened tooth that needs support, or if your tooth is discolored or misshapen. Dental crowns requires your teeth be prepared by grinding them down for the cap to fit on top. Crowns are custom fit and fabricated in dental labs outside of your dentist’s office, so the process takes longer than dental bonding. Depending on the material used, dental crowns can cost between $800-$3,000. (3)
The cost of dental bonding can vary significantly based on a variety of factors, such as the number of teeth being treated, and the amount of bonding required. Cosmetic dental bonding typically costs between $300-$600 per tooth; the price can be as low as $100-$200, or as high as $800-$1,000 per tooth. Cosmetic dental bonding is generally not covered by insurance. (4) Dental bonding can also be used to fill cavities, and this costs between $90-$450. Most dental insurance plans will cover 50%-80% of the cost and the rest will be out of pocket. If the bond is being used to replace a cracked or broken old filling, insurance may cover most, if not all, of the cost. (4)