February 3, 2010

Tooth Bonding

Bonding is a widely used type of work in which a dentist applies a tough material to a tooth for structural or cosmetic reasons. A special plastic resin is carefully matched to the natural color of the tooth being worked on. After the resin is applied to the tooth, it is cured or bonded to the tooth’s surface with a special type of light.

The Bonding Procecdure

The bonding procedure can most often be done in an hour or less. Very little prep work is called for. First, a liquid conditioner is applied to the tooth to create a rough surface to which the resin can stick. Next, the resin is applied and sculpted.

When the desired shape has been molded and smoothed, ultraviolet light or a laser is used, which makes the resin harden. In some cases, a number of layers of resin are built up in this way. When more than one layer is needed, each one is cured before the next is added. Anesthesia is rarely needed. After some final shaping and polishing, the tooth should look and feel nearly as good as new.

Tooth Conditions Addressed by Dental Bonding

Your dentist may suggest bonding for a number of reasons, either structural or cosmetic in nature. It may be used to cover natural defects or to repair chipped or broken teeth. If a visible tooth surface needs a filling, bonding may be used to help make the repair “disappear.”

Gaps between teeth can be filled in this way, and it is used to give teeth a new shape or color as well. Bonding is also used to help address tooth decay and to protect the roots of teeth near recessed gums.

Some Advantages and Disadvantage of Dental Bonding

There are pros and cons for the use of dental bonding. On the plus side:

  • It is easier and less costly than veneers and crowns, which involve drawn out and more costly lab work
  • Less of the tooth must be removed for bonding than for silver fillings, veneers, or crowns
  • Anesthesia is not generally needed unless a cavity needs to be filled
  • The work can be done quickly – most often in less than an hour
  • Resin that is the same color as the tooth is more pleasing to look at than dark colored silver or amalgam fillings
  • Bonding composites expand and contract just as natural teeth do, so they are less likely to crack

A few drawbacks of bonding include:

  • While stain resistant to a degree, bonding resin is not as strong against staining as the material used in crowns
  • While strong, bonding may not stand up to the effects of time as well as fillings, veneers, or crowns

To learn more about dental bonding, talk to your dentist or dental hygienist.