Content provided by Cleveland Clinic
Dental bonding is a procedure in which a tooth-colored resin material (a durable plastic material) is applied and hardened with a special light, which ultimately “bonds” the material to the tooth to restore or improve an individual’s smile.
Frequently Asked Questions
For what conditions might dental bonding be considered?
Dental bonding is an option that can be considered:
- to repair decayed teeth (composite resins are used to fill cavities)
- to repair chipped or cracked teeth
- to improve the appearance of discolored teeth
- to close spaces between teeth
- to make teeth look longer
- to change the shape of teeth
- as a cosmetic alternative to amalgam fillings
- to protect a portion of the tooth’s root that has been exposed when gums recede
What is the procedure for having a tooth bonded?
- Preparation. Minimal preparation of the tooth is needed. Your dentist will use a shade guide to select a composite resin color that will closely match the color of your tooth.
- The bonding process. Next, the surface of the tooth will be roughened and a conditioning liquid applied. These procedures help the bonding material adhere to the tooth. The tooth-colored, puttylike resin is then applied, molded, and smoothed to the desired shape. An ultraviolet light or laser is then used to harden the material. After the material is hardened, your dentist will further trim and shape it, and polish it to match the sheen of the rest of the tooth surface.
- Time-to-completion. The procedure takes about 30 to 60 minutes per tooth to complete.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of bonding?
- Advantages: Bonding is among the easiest and least expensive of cosmetic dental procedures. Unlike veneers and crowns, which are customized tooth coverings that must be manufactured in a laboratory, bonding usually can be done in one office visit unless several teeth are involved. Another advantage, compared with veneers and crowns, is that the least amount of tooth enamel is removed. Also, unless dental bonding is being performed to fill a cavity, anesthesia is usually not required.
Although the material used in dental bonding is somewhat stain-resistant, it does not resist stains as well as crowns. Another disadvantage is that the bonding materials do not last as long and are not as strong as other restorative procedures, such as crowns, veneers, or fillings. In addition, bonding materials can chip and break off the tooth.
Because of the limitations of bonding, some dentists view it as best suited for small cosmetic changes, for temporary correction of cosmetic defects, and for correction of teeth in areas of very low bite pressure (for example, front teeth). Consult your dentist about the best cosmetic approach for your particular problem.
Do teeth that have been bonded require any special care?
No. Simply follow good oral hygiene practices brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss at least once a day, and see your dentist for regular professional checkups and cleanings.
Because bonding material can chip, it is important to avoid such habits as biting fingernails; chewing on pens, ice, or other hard food objects, or using your bonded teeth as an opener. Call your dentist if you do notice any sharp edges on a bonded tooth, any chips or pieces falling off, or if your tooth feels odd when you bite down.
How long does bonding material last?
The life span of bonding materials depends on how much bonding was done and on your oral habits. Typically, however, bonding material lasts from 3 to about 10 years before it needs to be touched up or replaced.