What is Dental Bonding?


Dental Bonding

If you care about the appearance of your teeth, you're in good company. Unfortunately, despite wishing for a knock-'em-dead smile, not everyone is born with perfect dentition. To make matters worse, a lifetime of smoking or drinking coffee may have toned those once-pearly whites down to an unsightly tan.

At times like these, many people call for cosmetic assistance. Although some of these treatments come with a high price tag, there is one method that's within the means of nearly everyone. It's dental bonding, and it comes in two separate varieties. These include:

  • Direct composite dental bonding. In this process, the dentist will use a composite that's either white or tinted to match the patient's natural teeth to repair cracks and chips. This substance can also fill cavities, build up teeth that have worn at the edges or close unsightly gaps or spaces between them. Alternatively, the dentist can apply dental bonding material as direct-process veneers. This minimally invasive procedure entails placing the composite material directly on the teeth and sculpting it to improve their shape and general appearance.
  • Adhesive dental bonding. Whereas direct composite bonding has to do with applying the resin directly to the tooth, adhesive dental bonding uses the material as a glue to attach crowns, bridges, inlays, onlays or porcelain veneers. This more invasive procedure entails first roughening the tooth's surface with a gentle acid solution, then removing it and applying a bonding agent. After this, the dentist will place the composite resin material, sculpting it until he has achieved the desired configuration. He will then cure the material with ultraviolet light and give it a final polishing to bring the restored surface up to an attractive sheen.

The Finer Points of Dental Bonding

Many people appreciate the availability of dental bonding not only for the excellence of its results but also for its relatively low cost. Unless several teeth must undergo treatment, your dentist can complete the procedure in only one office visit with little or no damage to the underlying teeth, thereby positioning the procedure favorably when compared to the placement of crowns and veneers. Furthermore, unless the teeth are decayed and require fillings, there is rarely any need for anesthesia.

On the minus side, the composite resin material is not as strong as the enamel on your natural teeth. It will eventually require repair or even full replacement, and that is especially likely to happen all the sooner in people who have a habit of chewing on pencils, pens or fingernails. Furthermore, the bonding material is also more apt than porcelain crowns to acquire stains. For this reason, many dental professionals prefer to use dental bonding only for smaller cosmetic adjustments on front teeth that are naturally subject to less in the way of biting stress.

A proper candidate for dental bonding is one whose teeth are chipped or cracked, stained or discolored, shorter than they should be or suffering from decay. The procedure also works well for protecting any part of a root that sits out in the open thanks to the action of receding gums. If your teeth have suffered considerable damage, however, a more robust restoration will likely serve you better and provide you with a more favorable result.

Prolonging the Life of Dental Bonding Restorations

Although composite dental bonding is not as strong as your natural enamel and won't last as long as veneers, it should be good for at least 10 years if you treat it well. That means:

  • Brushing and flossing at least twice a day.
  • Never chewing on ice, hard candy or your fingernails.
  • Wearing a night guard if you grind your teeth while sleeping.
  • Seeing your dentist at least twice a year.
  • Never using your teeth to open packaged foods.

You also need to remember that composite resin will stain more easily than will porcelain crowns or veneers, and this is most likely to happen within the first two to three days after you've had the treatment. Therefore, it's important to refrain from smoking and drinking coffee or tea for at least that long, and to brush as often as possible with a whitening toothpaste for the life of your restoration.

The Cost of Dental Bonding

As with anything else, the final cost of a dental bonding procedure will vary in accordance with the severity of the situation, the number of teeth involved and the dentist who does the work. Overall, though, dental bonding is one of the most commonly performed and least expensive methods of dental restoration available today. If you would like to determine whether your teeth would benefit from having this procedure, call Dr. James White today for a consultation. He will be glad to discuss dental bonding with you and evaluate your chances for achieving a successful outcome.