Cosmetic Bonding

Cosmetic Bonding can repair chips, blemishes, tooth alignment, and decay

Cosmetic bonding refers to restorations or fillings made from tooth colored composite plastic material.  Dental bonding is a cosmetic dentistry procedure in which a tooth-colored “Composite” material is applied to a tooth, artistically formed by the dentist into a proper shape, hardened, and then polished. It’s called bonding because the tooth colored composite material bonds chemically to the tooth.  Bonded fillings have mostly replaced silver fillings as the standard “best choice” restoration for repairing a cavity. The cosmetic bonding requires no outside lab procedure, and is built directly onto the tooth surface by the dentist. It can be done in a single visit and is typically more cost-effective than dental veneers for patients looking to treat cosmetic concerns on a budget. Durable, tissue compatible, and kind to the opposing teeth, Dr. Fondriest is able to make absolutely the thinnest restorations using this material, which preserves the greatest amount of natural tooth structure.  Bonded direct composite filling material can be used similarly to the porcelain veneer to cover front teeth. Exquisite natural esthetics can be achieved, as all of the light transmitting qualities and shades of natural teeth are available.

Bonded Composite Veneers

Composite is a very versitile material that comes in many shades, levels of translucency, and viscosities.  An artisitc dentist can employ these various types of composite in layers to create lifelike replicas of natural teeth. A smile can be transformed by having this technique applied to their front teeth. Many patients who wish to have a nice smile but don’t have the financial resources to have porcelain veneers done will opt for bonded composite veneers.

Uses of Cosmetic Bonding

Composite Bonding

This patient has a long lasting directly bonded composite veneer on her left front tooth.

  • Less expensive way to make cosmetic smile improvements
  • Close spaces or gaps between teeth
  • Repair worn, broken, chipped, damaged enamel
  • Re-shape crooked or misaligned teeth much like a porcelain veneer would
  • Cover permanently stained or discolored teeth.
  • Comparable alternative to dental veneers and ideal for young patients who aren’t old enough for permanent porcelain versions

Disadvantages of cosmetic bonding include:

  • Bonding material can become stained. Unlike porcelain restorations, dental bonding has a tendency to become stained over time. Coffee, tea, red wine, and cigarette smoke can stain the material used in dental bonding, making it stand out from the rest of your teeth. If you are a smoker, you may want to choose a different cosmetic dentistry treatment. Bonding material is porous and it will yellow from exposure to cigarette smoke.
  • Less durable. Additionally, the material used in dental bonding isn’t as strong and long-lasting as porcelain veneers or crowns. Bonding usually lasts several years before it needs to be repaired. How long it actually lasts depends on how much bonding was done and your oral habits. It can easily chip, stain or wear. With proper care though, dental bonding can last three to seven years or more depending on how hard the patient is on his/her teeth.  Clenching, nighttime grinding or bruxing, chewing ice or hard candies can cause premature damage to bonding.
  • It requires more artistic talent.  Let’s face it, although most dentists are NERDS, not all dentists are artists.  It takes time, artistic talent, and a deep understanding of the materials to properly layer a composite restoration to give it the vitality of a natural healthy tooth.
  • The bonding procedure requires ideal and total isolation when done.  Saliva actually ruins the bond.  Doing dentistry on a breathing, gagging, wiggling, frightened human being can be challenging.
  • Tooth sensitivity after a bonding procedure is somewhat common.

    The bonding procedure itself employs acidic washes.  If the decay comes close to the nerve, the acid wash can sensitize the tooth nerve.  Poor bondig technique can also lead to sensitivity.

Maintenance of Dental Bonding

Because dental bonding is more susceptible to staining and chipping than other forms of cosmetic dentistry, special care is required to keep your bonded teeth looking natural. Here are some tips to keep your dental bonding in tip-top shape:

  • Cut down on coffee, tea,  red wine and tobacco products.
  • Since dental bonding can chip easily, it is important to avoid dangerous habits such as opening food packaging with your teeth, biting your nails or chewing on hard objects, such as ice, pencils, hard candy and raw carrots.
  • Call your dentist if you notice sharp edges or if your teeth feel strange when you bite down. If necessary, dental bonding can be repaired or touched up.
  • To prevent or minimize stains, brush your teeth often and have them cleaned regularly by a dental hygienist.

How long will tooth bonding last?

Composite bonding is about one third as strong as a real tooth. If a natural tooth will chip, plastic will chip sooner.  Although composite is used frequently to repair natural tooth chips, remember that it is being placed in “Harm’s Way”. This material is not a good choice when used in certain parts of the mouth that take the most occlusal abuse.  This is especially true with patients who grind or clench their teeth. Composite bonding is not as strong as porcelain when used to reshape teeth. It will not last as long as the average porcelain veneer. Under normal circumstances, you should get 7-12 years use.  At 5 years of service the surface will no longer be polished and there are likely to be some stains.