You have probably heard of the term “tooth bonding” but probably do not completely understand what it is. By the time you get done reading this article you will have a general understanding of the procedure and will be able to determine if it is for you.

So what is tooth bonding? Tooth bonding is a procedure that is used to repair chipped teeth or to fill in gaps between teeth. It involves the use of a resin that the dentist will apply to your teeth after they slightly roughen the tooth to provide a grip. After the resin dries the dentist will shape and polish it to a natural appearance.

Tooth bonding is not a cheap procedure. It will cost in the neighborhood of $300 to $600 per tooth. Since it is a cosmetic procedure it might not be covered by insurance unless it is being used to correct a cracked or broken tooth. You can expect the bonding to last for somewhere between 12 to 15 years before it might need repair. With proper care though the repair can last for much longer.

HOW IS COSMETIC TEETH BONDING DONE?

Teeth bonding is usually a one-visit procedure. The tooth is prepared by lightly roughening the area to be repaired, which usually doesn’t require anesthetic. Then the surface of the tooth is etched with a gel, and a treatment of bonding primers and resins is applied to the tooth. Then the composite is applied. Dental composites are materials made of acrylic resins impregnated with inorganic fillers, and containing photoinitiators, plus fillers such as quartz, glass, or silicon dioxide. They are made to a paste-like consistency so that they can be sculpted to the proper shape. They contain various pigments which are matched to your tooth color, and they come in varying degrees of translucency, with careful attention paid to their polishability. This composite is applied to your tooth, sometimes in several layers in order to duplicate the depth of color that occurs in a natural tooth. A high-intensity curing light is then used to harden it. With careful artistry, this composite can be manipulated to mimic the color details and translucency of your tooth, and polished to a beautiful shine.

HOW LONG WILL THE BONDING LAST?

The technology of composite tooth bonding materials is wonderful as far as the beauty that it can bring to your teeth. Still, with all that has been done, there are some limitations to the materials of which you need to be aware. How long bonding lasts depends on many factors that are unique to the individual. Many people will go for ten or fifteen years and have the bonding look as good as the day it was put in. Some people will get staining on the margins of the bonding after one or two years and will need some touch-up work. If you take care of it well, it would be unusual to ever have to replace it, but some touch-up work would be normal after three to five years.

If your case is one for which the dentist recommended porcelain, you should expect no warranty on the composite bonding. Under normal mouth conditions of most people and if used as recommended, the tooth bonding work that is done by a qualified cosmetic dentist will not darken or discolor with age. If it is not damaged by improper professional cleaning by a hygienist, it ordinarily will not stain any more than your natural teeth. In most cases, it is also durable enough to withstand the stresses of ordinary mouth function.

SENSITIVITY TO AIR AND TOUCH

When veneering or re-shaping is done, it is common to have some areas of sensitivity on the teeth that are treated. This sensitivity may persist for a number of weeks, but should gradually diminish. If you feel that you are experiencing unusual sensitivity, please contact the office for help in alleviating it.

TAKING CARE OF THE BONDING

1. Maintain the teeth by brushing and flossing faithfully. Avoid sweets or starchy foods between meals. Bonding holds up much better when it is clean. 2. If you have extensive bonding work, we recommend frequent professional maintenance. Having your teeth cleaned two to four times per year by a hygienist skilled in bonding maintenance can help protect your bonding and make it look better and last longer. 3. Harsh toothpastes will dull the shine on bonding and make it more susceptible to stain. There are two toothpastes that are known to be safe for bonded teeth: Supersmile is the one we recommend (because of its unmatched, gentle stain-removing power). Supersmile is available from cosmetic dental offices but not from stores. We make it available from our web site for a discount along with free shipping. (See our web page about Supersmile toothpaste.) Rembrandt Toothpaste is also safe for bonding and is available from stores, but it isn’t quite as effective in our opinion. Hard toothbrushes will also damage bonding. For small areas of tooth bonding, this degree of care is not necessary. But if you have large sections of a tooth or teeth that are bonded, the extra care would be recommended. We also have some information about whitening toothpaste. 4. When bonding is done on the biting edges of the front teeth, it is the most susceptible to breaking. Be careful not to subject it to unnecessary stresses. Carrots, popcorn, and other hard foods should be bitten off to the side, away from areas that have been bonded. Never bite fingernails, pins, or other hard objects with bonded teeth. 5. Do not let your bonded teeth be cleaned with pumice-containing prophylaxis pastes, ultrasonic cleaning devices, or air-polishing instruments. These will damage the surface of the bonding and make it more susceptible to stain. There are special polishing pastes and techniques for bonded teeth that not all hygienists or dentists are aware of. 6. Report to the office if you develop any areas that snag floss or feel rough. Areas like this can be smoothed easily if they are caught early. 7. Alcoholic beverages can cause the bonding to deteriorate prematurely. Also, smoking and frequent drinking of coffee or tea tend to stain both your teeth and the bonding.