Dental bonding is a cosmetic and restorative procedure most often used to repair damage to or cover imperfections in the teeth that are most visible: the front teeth. Using dental bonding techniques, dentists can repair broken or chipped teeth, cover small imperfections and stains, and even close gaps between the front teeth. The procedure involves roughening and perhaps etching the area of the tooth that will receive the bonding material, which is a tooth-colored resin, applying and sculpting the resin to precisely match the shape and color characteristics of the surrounding teeth, and finally applying high-intensity bonding light that will fuse the resin to the tooth. It’s a procedure that takes great skill and experience because matching the color variation and translucency of real teeth requires a lot of practice. Let’s explore the pros and cons of dental bonding, especially when compared to other tooth restoration and repair options.
Dental Bonding Pros
- Broken and Chipped Teeth: Dental bonding can fix problems in the front teeth in a way that other procedures cannot. And many times, it is less expensive than other procedures as well. For instance, if there is a large chip, or even if you lose half of your tooth, dental bonding can repair the problem in a way that no one will be able to tell that you’ve had a repair done.
- Stained and Discolored Teeth: Dental bonding can be mixed to be opaque enough to cover teeth that have areas of discoloration or stains.
- Gapped Teeth: One of the most common uses for dental bonding is to close gaps between the front teeth. In these cases, dental bonding is an ideal solution because it is much less time consuming and expensive than traditional braces or Invisalign. Instead of spending months and even years having teeth straightened and aligned to close a front gap, patients can walk out of one appointment with the gap between their front teeth closed.
- Misshapen Teeth: Here again, dental bonding can save time and money because, in just one appointment, the dentist can apply and sculpt the composite resin to make imperfectly formed teeth look beautiful.
Dental Bonding Cons
- Longevity: Dental bonding is not a permanent solution because the bonding material is not as tough as enamel. You can extend the wear of your dental bonding by taking extra care of your teeth and avoiding chewing hard substances like ice and hard candy, but you’ll normally only get about ten years of wear from your dental bonding.
- Back Teeth: While dental bonding is a great solution for the front of the mouth where the teeth are most visible, it isn’t usually recommended for making repairs to the premolars and molars. This is because those back teeth take a lot more pressure from chewing and need sturdier restorations. Porcelain crowns and porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are much stronger, so they can hold up under the full pressures of chewing. Porcelain crowns are made of successive layers of feldspathic porcelain, which many dentists feel is the most beautiful dental material. They are bonded directly onto the prepared tooth. And porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are prepared the same way, but they are baked onto a metal base that provides extra strength. Both of these options are most often used to repair broken or cracked teeth, and they require that the teeth be ground down and prepared to receive the crown.
- Many Teeth: Dental bonding is much too time-consuming to be an affordable solution if you want to correct more than just a few teeth. While it is ideal for smaller areas where other options, like porcelain crowns or veneers, wouldn’t normally make sense. If you would like a smile makeover, it is usually better to consider porcelain veneers, which are very thin wafers of porcelain or another ceramic material that are bonded directly to the front of the teeth. Unlike crowns, they can cover a variety of problems, but they do not require that the tooth be ground down to prepare it to receive the veneer.
- Teeth Whitening: Once you have tooth bonding, you can’t uniformly whiten your teeth anymore. All whitening procedures involve applying a peroxide mix to the teeth and letting it stay there long enough to seep through the enamel to oxidize pigment molecules in the dentin. So if you think you would like to whiten your teeth, you should think about doing it before you have the bonding done. Then the bonding material can be matched to the new, whiter shade.
As with all dental problems, take the time to consult with a dentist you trust before you decide you need a particular procedure or solution. Dental bonding works great for a number of different circumstances, and not for others. If you discuss possible solutions with your dentist first, you may learn that there are options you had not ever thought of.