What Are the Pros and Cons to Dental Bonding?

Dental bonding uses special colored tooth resin that is applied and hardened to the tooth. This is done to either restore missing parts of the tooth, such as when a tooth is chipped, or to improve its overall appearance.

Two Forms of Dental Bonding

There are generally two forms of dental bonding: direct composite bonding and adhesive bonding. Direct composite bonding uses tooth-colored composites (white or natural-looking materials) to fill cavities, repair chips or cracks, close gaps between your teeth and build up the worn-down edges of teeth. Adhesive bonding attaches a restoration to the tooth. It is commonly done through esthetic crowns, porcelain veneers, bridges and inlays/onlays.

Pros and Cons

Dental bonding isn’t expensive, and can usually be done in one office visit unless multiple teeth need bonded. Unlike veneers and crowns, there’s no removal of tooth enamel required, so it’s less evasive. Most procedures can be done without any numbing or anesthesia.
The catch is the material is not as strong as your regular tooth. In fact, even just chewing on your nails can damage a bonded area. It may last for only a few years before it again needs restored. Dental bonding is not nearly as long lasting as crowns, veneers, or filling, nor is it very resistant to stains.

How Dental Bonding is Done

In most cases, you will not need numbing for dental bonding. Numbing is only necessary if the bonding is being used to fill in a cavity, drilling needs to be done to accommodate its shape, or the damaged part of the tooth is near a nerve.

Your dentist will use a shade guide to ensure the new bonded piece is a color that matches your current teeth. This way the tooth will look natural. If you are planning to have teeth whitening done to the rest of your teeth as a cosmetic dentistry procedure, you might want to do that first so your newly bonded tooth will match the whitening.

The surface of your tooth is then roughened to provide more sticking surface. A conditioning liquid is applied to the tooth so that the bonding will better attach to the existing tooth. A special dental glue is then applied, which is then hardened with a special bright light. Once the material hardens, your dentist will work to sculpt and shape it to look like the rest of your tooth.

Dental bonding usually takes between 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the extent of the surface. If you are being treated by a dental school, you should expect the procedure to take twice as long to allow time for instruction.