Dental bonding is used to repair or improve the appearance of teeth by applying a tooth-colored resin material, or a durable plastic material, onto the tooth. The resin material is hardened, or bonded, onto the tooth with a special ultraviolet light. Dental bonding can be used to repair chipped or cracked teeth, decayed teeth, and an exposed root when the gums have receded. Dental bonding can also be used for cosmetic purposes such as brightening discolored teeth, to close the space between teeth, to change the shape of a tooth or to make the teeth look longer.
Anesthetics are generally not needed for dental bonding unless the bonding is being used to fill a decayed tooth. The dentist will select a composite resin color, which will closely match the color of the tooth, by using a shade guide. Then, the dentist will roughen the surface of the tooth and apply a conditioning fluid. Next, the resin material is applied, molded and smoothed into shape. The ultraviolet light, or laser, is used to bond the material to the patient’s tooth. Once the material is hardened, the dentist will trim, shape and polish the resin to match the shine of the rest of the tooth’s surface. The process takes approximately 30 to 60 minutes per tooth.
Dental bonding is generally performed in one office visit unless multiple teeth are being done. For that reason, dental bonding is the easiest and least expensive cosmetic dental procedure. Dental bonding can cost $100-$400 per tooth. Although it is primarily considered a cosmetic procedure, patients should check with their dental insurance company to find out whether the cost might be fully or partially covered. In addition, dental bonding involves a lesser amount of tooth enamel removal when compared to veneers and crowns. However, the material used with dental bonding is not as strong and does not last as long as the other restorative procedures. Even though dental bonding material is somewhat stain resistant, it is not as resistant to stains as crowns. Dental bonding is typically limited to small cosmetic alterations, temporary corrections of defects and for areas of low bite pressure.
The results of dental bonding can last from 3 to 10 years depending on the patient’s oral habits and how much bonding was done. There is no special care needed for bonded teeth other than the usual brushing, flossing, regular dental check-ups and cleanings. To maintain the longest results, patients should avoid chewing on pens, crunching on ice and other hard food and objects. Biting fingernails and using the teeth to open products is also not advised. Patients who experience an odd sensation when biting down or detect sharp edges on a bonded tooth should consult with their dentist as soon as possible.