“Bonding” or “dental bonding” in dentistry refers to attaching some dental materials to your teeth on a permanent basis using a high intensity curing light and dental adhesives. It can be of two types. The first type is the direct composite bonding and the second one is adhesive bonding of a restoration that was designed in dentist’s office or in a laboratory.

What is Direct Composite Bonding?

Dentists have in their offices white or natural looking composites which they use to close the gaps between your teeth, fill cavities, build up any worn-down edges of your teeth or repair chips or cracks. Your dentists may place these materials on or in your teeth wherever needed.

This type of bonding procedure is usually completed in just one dental visit. This is because it involves precise placement of the restorative material. However, if you are having extensive treatments or more complicated ones, you may require additional visits. There is also no requirement of applying any temporaries or waiting for long for any sort of laboratory restorations.

For smile makeovers, the same tooth colored materials can be applied directly and sculpted to the most prominent teeth surfaces that appear when you smile. Your dentist refers them as direct composite veneers. If you have chips or gaps between your teeth, misshapen teeth, slight crookedness or staining and discoloration of your teeth, this type of dental bonding is a less expensive and ideal solution.

For the direct composite veneers, you require no mold taking, almost no preparations and no temporaries. Still, the exact way in which the direct composite veneers are created for you, depends on the precision and skill of the dentist that you choose.

What is Adhesive Bonding?

This type of dental bonding involves attachment of a “restoration” to one of your teeth by using an “etchant” (which is a bonding agent), an “adhesive” as well as a “high intensity curing light”.  Adhesive bonding is used for porcelain veneers, esthetic and metal-free crowns, inlays/onlays and bridges.

In both types of bonding procedures, your dentist starts the process of bonding by making use of a rubber dam for isolating your teeth. This ensures non-interference from moisture. Also, you may be given a local anesthetic injection depending on the extent of your treatment.

A solution of phosphoric acid will then be applied gently to the surface of your natural tooth. After about fifteen seconds, this acid is removed. A liquid bonding agent is then applied.

For a direct composite restoration, the dentist will then place, in stages, a putty-like composite resin on tooth surface. Then he/she will shape as well as sculpt it. In order to harden the layer of that composite, a high intensity curing light is used. Then the previous step is repeated and then cured. This is done until the direct composite veneer satisfactorily achieves its final shape. To ensure that there is no dislodgement of the bonded resin or no tooth sensitivity was caused, your dentist will also create an appropriate finish.

For restoration from a laboratory, the appropriate adhesive would be placed into the restoration. The restoration would then be seated on the tooth. It would then be light-cured for the appropriate amount of time by using a high intensity curing light.

Your bonded tooth may feel sensitive after the treatment. This particularly happens in case it is the one that has been filled or the one on which an inlay/onlay or a crown has been placed. However, this minor sensitivity is often temporary. In case it persists, you are recommended to visit your dentist.

A thorough examination and evaluation of your oral cavity, including teeth and gums is conducted to determine if the dental problems that you have would be solved with bonding or not. Although your dentist will first discuss the medical and cosmetic problems that the bonding can resolve, but if you have extensively damaged teeth or any other dental issues that may have an effect on the success of bonding treatment, you may be presented with other treatment options.

You may be suggested to go for teeth whitening before treatment in order to match the color of your teeth to the composite restoration in a perfectly better way. If you choose this option, you would have to wait for 2-3 weeks before your dentist places your direct composite restorations in order to ensure a durable bond to the natural structure of your teeth.

In cases, where you require bonding materials for lengthening or changing the shape of your teeth, thereby altering the appearance of your smile, the impressions of your teeth would be taken initially. This would be done to create a preview model of how your new smile could possibly look like. Then if you say “yes” to your new future smile, the dentist would use this preview model as a template for bonding your teeth.

After bonding treatment

You have to follow your dentist’s advice for proper oral hygiene and avoid those habits which can just damage your dental restorations. In turn, you would receive a beautiful and healthy smile for many years to come with dental bonding.

You need to brush at least twice a day and floss your teeth at least once a day. You should schedule your regular visits to the dentist for routine oro-dental examinations.

You must refrain from the habits like chewing on pens or other hard objects, or biting your fingernails. This may lead to chipping away of your bonding materials. In case you notice any sharp edge(s) on your bonded teeth, or in case the bonded tooth now feels differently when you attempt to bite down, you should have a visit to your dentist’s clinic.

Costs of dental bonding

The cost for elective and cosmetic treatments like direct composite veneers depends on your dentist’s geographic location, reputation, training and experience. Bonding with direct composite direct averages $300 to $600 per tooth, however, that associated with indirect porcelain veneers averages $750 to $1,500 per tooth. Nevertheless, if you have dental insurance plan, it will cover a large portion of your dental bonding expenses.

The advantages of bonding are:

  • Completed at one appointment
  • Beautiful esthetic result
  • Control over shade of the restoration
  • Control over shape of the restoration
The disadvantages of bonding are:

  • They have a tendency to chip, stain or crack
  • May require replacement after 5 years
  • Initial cost is lower, but repeated replacement over the
    years increases the cost.

A good esthetic alternative to bonding, that addresses the
disadvantages of bonding, is the use of porcelain veneers.