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How Dental Bonding Can Alter the Look and Feel of Your Teeth

Dental bonding can be an economical solution for stained, broken, or chipped teeth and other minor cosmetic dentistry issues.

Have a chipped, broken, or stained tooth? Dental bonding can make it look like new again without causing too much damage to your budget. Bonding is a relatively inexpensive way to make minor dental repairs

What Is Dental Bonding?

Dental bonding is a cosmetic dentistry procedure in which a tooth-colored composite material is applied to a tooth, sculpted into shape, hardened, and polished. It’s called bonding because the material bonds to the tooth. Dental bonding is ideal for small cosmetic dentistry work, such as fixing a broken or chipped tooth or closing small gaps between teeth. Dental bonding is also used as a tooth-colored filling for small cavities because it’s more cosmetically appealing than silver fillings.

 What Does Dental Bonding Involve?

Dentist will first apply a gentle phosphoric acid to the surface of your teeth, which etches and roughens the surface to help the bonding material stay in place. This process doesn’t hurt. The putty-like bonding material is then placed on the tooth’s surface, shaped, and sculpted. A special light is used to help the material harden and set. Finally, the composite is polished and buffed for a smooth finish.

 Pros and Cons of Dental Bonding

Advantages of dental bonding include:

Cost: The average cost of dental bonding ranges from $300 to $600 per tooth.

Speed: Dental bonding typically requires only one office visit. The entire process can be accomplished in 30 to 60 minutes per tooth.

Ease: Anesthesia is usually not necessary, unless bonding is being used to fill a decayed tooth. Compared to veneers and crowns, dental bonding also requires the least amount of enamel removal, explains Harms.

 Disadvantages of dental bonding include:

Bonding material can become stained. Unlike crowns and porcelain veneers, dental bonding has a tendency to become discolored 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,” says Harms. To minimize staining, you’ll need to avoid these substances for 24 to 48 hours after bonding is first performed. If you’re a smoker, you’ll want to choose a different cosmetic dentistry treatment. “Because bonding material is porous, it will yellow from exposure to cigarette smoke,” explains Harms.

Less durable: Additionally, the material used in dental bonding isn’t as strong and long-lasting as porcelain veneers and crowns. It can easily chip. With proper care though, dental bonding can last three to seven years.

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, and red wine.

If you’re a smoker, this is a good reason to quit — not to mention that smoking also increases your risk of gum disease and oral cancer.

Since dental bonding can chip easily, avoid biting your nails or chewing on hard objects, such as ice, pencils, 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, says Harms.

Because dental bonding does take some artistic skill for optimal cosmetic results, it’s important to choose a dentist experienced with the procedure. Don't hesitate to ask to see before and after photos of your dentist’s previous dental bonding patients.

 Dental bonding isn’t appropriate in every situation, but it can be a quick and relatively inexpensive way to improve your smile. And feeling good about the appearance of your teeth can help you maintain good dental health.

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