Teeth are naturally resilient, and our enamel is the strongest tissue in the human body. However, it only takes one bite of a hard substance or an unfortunate collision with another person to spell trouble for your teeth. Dentists have seen it all before.
Thankfully, modern treatments can easily repair a chipped, cracked or otherwise damaged tooth. If you find yourself in such a position, teeth bonding could be the most effective option for restoring your smile. Here’s everything you need to know about this popular dental treatment.
What is Teeth Bonding?
Teeth bonding (also known as “composite bonding” or “dental bonding”) is a cosmetic dental procedure used for filling chips and fractures in the teeth. It can also be used to treat discolouration, fix gaps between the teeth and even change the shape of a tooth.
A simple and relatively inexpensive procedure, teeth bonding is one of the most common treatments administered by dental practitioners. A tooth-coloured composite resin (a durable plastic material) is bonded to the surface of the damaged tooth to restore its former appearance.
While teeth bonding is similar in method to some other popular treatments like fillings, it differs in that its main purpose is cosmetic rather than restorative, with a focus on changing the shape or colour of an unattractive tooth.
How Teeth Bonding Works
The teeth bonding procedure is simple and can be completed in one visit to the dentist. The appointment will begin with an examination of the damaged teeth to determine whether dental bonding is the right course of treatment to take.
With this established, your dentist will use a shade chart to find a composite resin colour that closely matches the natural appearance of your teeth. Once this has been selected, the dentist will then prepare for the bonding stage.
This process consists of roughening the surface of the tooth and applying a liquid gel that acts as an adhesive for the bonding material. The composite resin is then applied to the tooth and moulded to the desired shape.
A bright, UV light is used to solidify the bonding material once it has settled. After it has hardened, your dentist will polish the composite resin to create a smooth and natural-looking smile.
The entire process takes about 30 to 60 minutes per tooth to complete. As a non-invasive dental procedure, teeth bonding is relatively painless and generally doesn’t require an anesthetic unless the dentist is required to fill a cavity.
Is Teeth Bonding Right For You?
Teeth bonding is the preferred method for dealing with minor cosmetic issues, such as small chips and fractures. This is because teeth bonding only removes a small amount of enamel, which helps to maintain the structural integrity of teeth while improving their appearance.
However, teeth bonding may not be advisable when the damage to teeth is more serious and widespread within the mouth. In these instances, invasive dental procedures may be preferred. Common alternatives to teeth bonding include:
- Fillings. Fillings follow a similar procedure to teeth bonding, but are a restorative treatment used to repair teeth that have been damaged by decay. The decayed area of the tooth is removed and the cavity is filled.
- Crowns. Dental crowns are another restorative procedure used to repair teeth that have been seriously damaged. The broken or damaged tooth is filed down and then a tooth-shaped cap is placed on top as a replacement.
- Veneers. Like teeth bonding, veneers are a cosmetic procedure used to change the size, shape and colour of teeth. An invasive procedure, veneers are thin, custom-made restorations bonded to the front surface of the teeth, which are filed down in the process.
- Implants. Another cosmetic procedure, dental implants serve as a synthetic replacement tooth for missing teeth or teeth that are seriously damaged and need to be urgently removed.
- Invisalign. Invisalign dental aligners are a great option for patients with healthy teeth who want to improve the straightness of their smile. A cosmetic treatment, Invisalign can help with an overcrowded mouth as well as mild cases of overbite and underbite.
If your teeth have only suffered minor damage, teeth bonding can restore functionality and aesthetics to your smile without causing long-term damage. This isn’t true for invasive procedures such as crowns and veneers, which remove enamel from your teeth in the process.
As always, it’s best to book an initial consultation with your dentist so that they can examine the damage first-hand and advise on the safest and most effective course of treatment based on your needs.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Teeth Bonding
It’s fair to say that the advantages of teeth bonding far outweigh the disadvantages, though there are a few drawbacks you should be aware of if you’re planning on receiving this treatment.
- Minimal invasiveness. Unlike veneers and crowns, teeth bonding requires minimal enamel removal. This gives you the option to remove the composite resin at a later date without permanent damage to your teeth.
- Convenience. Teeth bonding can be administered in a single visit to the dentist, with each tooth taking an hour or less to complete.
- Cost. Teeth bonding is a relatively cheap dental procedure, especially compared to other cosmetic treatments like veneers.
- Durability. Bonded teeth may not be as resistant as porcelain crowns and veneers, and it’s likely that they’ll need to be replaced after several years.
- Staining. The composite material used in teeth bonding is known to stain. This is something to consider if you drink lots of coffee or red wine or if you smoke.
As you can see, teeth bonding is a great option for minor dental issues. However, if you’re not concerned about causing permanent damage to your teeth, other cosmetic treatments can be considered.
How to Prepare for Teeth Bonding
If you’re suffered minor damage to a tooth and require teeth bonding treatment, you’ll be glad to hear that no special preparation is needed ahead of the procedure. All you need to do is schedule an appointment with your dentist and follow their lead.
If your dentist identifies teeth bonding as the most effective course of action, you should be able to receive treatment on the spot. Generally, no anesthetic is required, with the entire procedure taking around 30 to 60 minutes per tooth.
Teeth bonding is completely safe, and there are no adverse risks associated with the procedure that you need to be aware of. Instances of infection and allergic reaction are extremely rare. The composite material may wear away with time, in which case you’ll need to return to your dentist.
How to Care for Bonded Teeth
The composite material used in teeth bonding isn’t as strong as your enamel, so you’ll need to be especially careful with your bonded teeth. Below, you’ll find guidance on the best aftercare practices for bonded teeth.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss regularly
- Visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings
- Contact your dentist if you notice a change to your bonded tooth
- Use products that can stain your teeth, including tobacco, coffee, tea, and wine, for the first 48 hours after the procedure
- Chew on hard foods and surfaces, such as ice cubes and candies
- Bite your fingernails with your bonded teeth
- Use your bonded teeth to tear things open
Provided that you maintain excellent oral hygiene habits and shield your bonded teeth from unnecessary strains, your teeth should remain in good condition. That said, the bonding material will wear away eventually and you may need to get this replaced after several years.
Another thing to note is that the composite resin used in teeth bonding doesn’t resist long-term stains as well as your enamel. As a result, you may experience discolouration if you smoke or drinks lots of coffee and red wine. This can be corrected by replacing the bonding material.
How Long Does Teeth Bonding Last?
Unfortunately, teeth bonding isn’t a permanent solution, and your bonding material will likely need to be refreshed after some time. Typically, the bonding material will last between three and 10 years, at which point it will need to be replaced.
Strong oral hygiene and excellent post-treatment care can extend the lifespan of your bonded teeth. You should visit your dentist every six months to monitor the condition of your bonded teeth and reapply the bonding material if necessary.
How Much Does Teeth Bonding Cost?
The cost of teeth bonding will always vary depending on the service provider, though the treatment is widely acknowledged as one of the less expensive procedures within the dentistry field.
In Australia, fees typically range from $250 to $850 per tooth. The exact price will vary depending on the complexity of the bonding, with a small chip priced at the cheaper end of the spectrum. Remember to check your dental insurance policy to see if teeth bonding is covered.