What is Cosmetic Bonding?
Cosmetic bonding is procedure in which we bond tooth-colored, composite resin filling material to your teeth to repair a fractured, decayed, chipped, or off-color tooth. Bonding via composite resin is often done chairside, in a single appointment.
How do I know if I need cosmetic bonding?
Cosmetic bonding is often used to correct mild to severe discrepancies in tooth form. It can be used to minimize spaces (diastema) between teeth. The composite resin is selected to blend naturally with the surrounding dentition. An initial exam will be conducted to determine whether you are a candidate for cosmetic bonding. Cosmetic bonding is not recommended if your teeth require major changes in shape, and/or have minimal existing enamel. For instance, if you have a tooth that has received cosmetic bonding in past, with the tooth being mostly resin (with very little natural enamel left), we will often recommend a crown in this case. For cosmetic bonding to be successful, there must be a moderate amount of healthy enamel remaining in the tooth.
How cosmetic bonding works
We start by anesthetizing the tooth, if necessary. Then we select an appropriate shade that approximates the color of your tooth and surrounding dentition. The tooth is prepped, or “filed” down strategically, to help roughen the surface and remove any decayed areas or old or defective filling material. That may sound invasive, but often the amount of “filing” needed is minimal. A series of chemicals are applied to the tooth. The composite resin is applied to the tooth and sculpted to give it a lifelike appearance. A special light is shined on the resin, which causes it to harden and take its final shape. The process can take from 15 minutes to 90 minutes. It depends on the number of teeth involved, as well as on the number of surfaces per tooth that are to be treated, etc.
Pros and cons of cosmetic bonding
Pros include that cosmetic bonding is more cost-effective than porcelain veneers or porcelain crowns, and can be done chair-side and completed in one visit. Also, dramatic cosmetic improvements are attainable in most cases.
What about cons? Composite resin is, unfortunately, not as strong as natural tooth enamel, so there is always the chance that the material may fracture off and need to be repaired. Much depends on your eating habits, lifestyle, bite force and occlusion, as well as other individual factors.