What’s Dental Bonding?
Dental bonding uses a tooth-colored resin, known as “composite,” to fill a hole or crack in a tooth, to improve the appearance of a discolored tooth, or to fill a small gap between two teeth. The composite comes in several different colors, so it can be matched to your teeth and not be noticeable when you talk or smile.
The use of dental bonding to attach composite to the tooth is one of the options for filling a cavity; see the Dental Fillings page for more information on that use of dental bonding. This page will discuss the use of dental bonding to fix small defects to improve the appearance of the teeth.
When you’re considering any dental procedure, it’s important to know the risks and weigh them against the benefits. Once you understand the procedure, then you can make your decision about whether or not to proceed. To help you in your decision-making process, we have some information about the risks and benefits of having dental bonding at Dental Bonding: Risks and Benefits.
Please note that this page is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for qualified, individualized medical advice. You should discuss your potential dental procedure with your own dentist..
How it’s done
The composite resin comes in several colors, so the first step is for the dentist to select the shade of resin that most closely matches your tooth. Then, the area of the tooth where the resin will be applied will be prepared for the bonding. Your mouth will be held open, and the tooth to be bonded will be cleaned and dried. The dentist then roughens the area to be bonded, so the resin will stick and not slide off. This involves abrading (gently scratching) the tooth’s surface. Next, a liquid is applied to the area that will be bonded; this liquid improves the bond between the resin and the tooth.
The composite resin is then applied to the tooth, in roughly the desired shape. An ultraviolet light or laser is used to cause the resin to bond to the tooth. Finally, the dentist polishes and shapes the resin into the final shape.
Unless the tooth is also being drilled so that the composite can be used to fill a cavity, there is no need for numbing the area with Novocain or another such medication. This procedure will not cause pain, because only the outer layer of the tooth is involved. If, despite knowing that there will not be pain, you still feel anxiety about the procedure, sedation dentistry may be an option for you.
Preparing for the procedure
Choosing your dentist
Because cosmetic dentistry is not a recognized dental specialty, if a dentist calls himself or herself a “cosmetic dentist,” it doesn’t necessarily mean much. More importantly, you want to find out whether this particular dentist has experience performing the procedure you’re interested in. It’s at least as important to find a dentist with whom you feel comfortable, who listens to you, tries to understand your goals, and answers your questions. Referrals from friends and family, especially if they’ve had the particular procedure you’re considering, can be especially valuable.
Planning for the Cost
Of course, you’ll want to know the cost of your procedure, whether insurance will cover it, and how you’ll finance it. For more, visit our Dental Bonding Cost page.
Dental bonding is a relatively noninvasive procedure, so the recovery is typically fairly easy. You may find that the bonded tooth (or teeth) is sensitive to hot and cold, or to pressure (such a biting down). The sensitivity typically only lasts a few days, and then the bonded tooth will usually feel just like the rest of your teeth.